Fundación Casa Ducal de Medinaceli

Through its history

The palace of the "Adelantados Mayores de Andalucía"

The flux of this house in its own double meaning of building and lineage, walk almost in paralel with the rise and fall of Seville, in whose history, family and palace played a key role.

The creation of the palace resulted from the marriage of Catalina de Ribera and Pedro Enriquez, and was extraordinarily beneficial to Seville in terms of the architectural legacy it left. Coming from Galicia, the Ribera linage started its enlargement in second half of the 14th century. They were representatives, as Adelantados Mayores de Andalucía, of the royal authority, in a Seville divided by the rivalries of the local aristocracy. At the end of the 15th century, after the union by marriage with the Enríquez linage, (from the House of Trastámara), who reigned in Castile, Aragon, Navarre and Naples, they took the surname Enríquez de Ribera and lived their golden century as the city of Seville turned into the metropolis of the West Indies, being awarded with the titles of Marquis of Tarifa (1514) and Duke of Alcalá de los Gazules (1558), two of these members were appointed viceroys of Naples, a position highly coveted amongst the aristocracy.

In the middle of the 17th century, at the time when Seville was entering into an economic crisis, which in the long-term would turn it into a peripheral city, the Enríquez de Ribera family experienced a succession crisis so that their family titles and estates passed to the Ducal House of Medinaceli through the marriage of a niece of the third Duke of Alcalá, Ana Maria Luisa Enríquez de Ribera, with the 7th Duke of Medinaceli.

The palace became one more of the Andalusian residences belonging to the Capitanes Generales de las Costas de Andalucia (field marshal of the Andalusian coasts), a position that the person awarded with the title of Duke of Medinaceli occupied until the end of the century. Throughout the 18th century, when the ducal family, like the rest of the high nobility, moved with all of their administration to Madrid, the building and its collections entered slowly into decline. It thus became just one of the many palaces across Spain that this House owned, with the inconvenience that its style did not fit in with new 18th century tastes.

It was not until Romanticism’s revival of the Mudejar style that the palace regained its lost importance, and again became the temporary residence of the Duke and Duchess of Medinaceli, who introduced Romantic-style features.  In the 20th century, there began a period of restorations and rehabilitations, increased with the incorporation of the palace in the heritage of the Ducal House of Medinaceli Foundation in 1978.

Seville, "New Rome"

If the creation of this palace resulted from the union of two warring noble families, made important through the defence of the border between the kingdom of Seville and the Muslim kingdom of Granada, its later expansion and ennoblement were the consequence of the close relationship that its descendants enjoyed with Italy throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. This relationship exposed them to the best of Renaissance humanist culture and instilled in them increasingly sophisticated cultural tastes.  The first stage of development ended symbolically with the death of Pedro Enríquez, on 4th February 1492,  on his return from the capture of Granada. The second opened when, in 1520, Fadrique Enríquez de Ribera returned from Seville after his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, having personally visited powerful cities such as Milan, Venice, Rome, Florence and Genoa. This was a key event in his life, a fact that he personally highlights by the writing on the façade of his house, surrounded by Jerusalem crosses: “4 days of August 1519, I entered Jerusalem”. It was not a less important event the change that his palace went through and, along with it, the domestic architecture of a city where the precious metals from the New World firstly arrived.

From Genoa, Fadrique also brought to Seville the first marble stonework influenced by the Renaissance: tombs to honour the memory of his ancestors and architectural elements for the improvement of his palace. The impression these artworks made on Seville was extraordinary, forcing the Genoian workshop that had realized them to look for additional craftsmen to satisfy the growing demand.  However, it was the introduction of original spaces to accommodate new forms of socializing that converted this palace into the paradigm of the noble Sevillan residence. It incorporated novelties that broke radically with previously employed architectural models, for example, the monumental gateway and the double house; a winter residence on the top floor, a summer one on the lower floor, connected by a sumptuous staircase.

When Fadrique died, his heirs made a great effort to use this palace as a filter through which the Italian Renaissance reached Seville. During the viceroyalty of Naples, the first Duke of Alcalá formed an extraordinary collection of sculptures which led to the creation of a new palace next to the one he had inherited. This was a permanent source of inspiration for the group of humanists, protected by the third Duke of Alcalá, which included Francisco Pacheco, master and father-in-law of Diego Velázquez.

«« PreviousPage 1/4Next »»


Previsualización de la cronología de la Casa de Pilatos

This timeline is designed as an educational instrument which, in the manner of a virtual voyage through time, provides a quick glimpse of the history of the building from its construction to the present day.

It is arranged in four contextual levels which are, from bottom to top: the history of the House of Alcalá, that of the palace, that of Seville, and general history.

Each moment in the history of the monument is illustrated by photographs located in the foreground which, when clicked on, provide access to a brief explanation of a specific aspect.

In the background, as a spatial-temporal backdrop, you will see pictures of other Sevillian buildings constructed around the same time and indicating the timespan they occupy.

Use the arrows in the bottom corners to move towards the present or the past.