Two days ago I read this article and I thought it would be a good idea to write about the Museum of Andalusian Autonomy for the #MuseumWeek
The museum is in Coria del Rio, a town very close to Seville. I highly recommend to visit it because it is a perfect way to get in contact with the contemporary history of Andalusia. In the entrance there is an exhibition that explains the historical process to achieve the status of Autonomy during the Spanish Transition.
One of the steps for Andalusia to be considered an autonomous community at the same level as Catalonia and Basque Country was the celebration of a referendum. In this museum there is the blackboard where the results were written during the voting. People clearly voted “Yes” to the autonomy even with the hard conditions that the central Government of Spain gave to Andalusia.
This process was not so peaceful as you can imagine. The 4th of December of 1977, large demonstrations were organized all over Andalusia (even in Catalonia, where the Andalusian migrants did everything they could to support the autonomy) and sadly in a demonstration a protester died due to police repression. I mean he was killed. He was called Manuel García Caparrós and the Museum also makes us remind him.
The jewel of this museum is the house of Blas Infante. He is considered the father of Andalusia as you can read in the article I linked above. He was born in Casares, but the last years of his life he lived in Coria del Río where he built his own house with the help of a Moroccan artisan and a Sevillian ceramist from Triana.
From the outside the house seems to be quite simple. It is built in mudejar style, mainly with bricks, and the windows have the typical Islamic arches. At the main entrance, the emblem of Andalusia welcomes the visitors. The emblem was designed by Infante and he was inspired by the emblem of Cadiz: Hercules standing with two lions between the two columns of Gibraltar, considered in the past the end of the world.
I cannot explain how I felt when I crossed the main gate and got inside the house. Suddenly it seemed I was in a different world and in a different time. Every corner, detail, the floor and the roof were decorated like you can see in the pictures below. I had the feeling that I was in a mosque, or maybe in a Andalusian palace from the 11th century. All the people who were with me felt exactly the same.
The heavy decoration is mainly in the first three rooms and while you continue inside it starts to be lighter. But it is always in the same style: tiles all around, colours, craftworks in wood and plaster, antiquities… There was still some of the furniture like the radio Infante owned, the one the fascists said he used it as a way to be in contact with the communists from Moscow.
As a museum there are also few elements that explain the life of Infante and his political ideas like documents, books and pictures. There is even an hologram of an actor who played the roll of Blas Infante: in a room we can see him working in his studio, in a different room we can see him composing the Andalusian Hymn with his piano.
A detail that I want to point is that there is a room with the painting of the lovers of Antequera. According to the legend he was the soldier of the christian prince Fernando and she was the daughter of the Muslim king. As you can imagine, they fell in love during the conquest led by Fernando. Since they could not stay together they committed suicide throwing themselves from top of the hill that nowadays is called the Hill of the Lovers. Maybe Infante chose this painting for two reasons: The first one because it was in Antequera where he and his group signed the first Andalusian Constitution, and the second one as a way to represent the mixture of cultures that used to live together and quite peacefully in Andalusia centuries ago.
In the first room of the house there is also a beautiful detail. The guide told us that there is a sentence written in the decoration. It is written in our language but using the Arab alphabet and calligraphy. I do not remember exactly what it was written, but I know they were words in honour to his mother, as this was her room.
Finally, the detail I like most: the kitchen was decorated with small tiles that represent different happenings and chapters of the Universal Novel Quixote. A daughter of Infante who is still alive, said her father enjoyed telling the Quixote to her and her sister using these tiles as a book. Cards and magnets of the drawings are sold at the shop of the museum.
The last room in the house is the most shocking one. A video about how the fascist captain Queipo de Llano reached Seville is played, and it finished with the hologram of Infante going out of the house to be executed in another place. Since that day, his wife and daughters have always maintained this door closed.
Long live free Andalusia!
Are you visiting Andalusia? Maybe I can help you to organize your trip or I can be your guide. Penelope