Marchena is a village near Seville (65 Km).

The waters of the right bank of the Guadalquivir River flow through the plains of this city in which echoes of Roman times coexist with those of the walled Arab enclosures. Towers and ramparts… an enclosure from which Marchena could not escape. History is history. Baroque in MarchenaThis city, with the passing of time, could not but be influenced by the baroque

period —all the more, being, as it was, a duchy. Marchena, in addition to possessing works in other artistic styles, stands out for its baroque influences, which manifest themselves in various areas of the Fine Arts: architecture, painting and the lesser arts.


We begin our walking tour by pausing for a moment outside a magnificent example of Marchena’s civic baroque architecture —a temple with the surprising feature of battlements on its walls. It is the parroquia de San Juan (Parish Church of St John) —we will go inside later. In front of us we see a monumental building of grandiose and well-balanced proportions. This late 17th century construction catches the eye with its two-storeyed facade and beautiful Tuscan columns supporting the ground-floor arches. In the rear part of one of the towers with battlements is a garden with a balcony. We will find a fair number of other Andalusian-style stately homes that belonged to the nobility, or to the nouveau-riche families of owners and farmers that comprised the urban bourgeoisie of that time, that were constructed in the same style as this impressive building. On the whole, this type of house has the following features: the facade with its shutters and balconies, and the entrance hall that leads to the central patio. The ground-floor rooms open off the patio, while the upper floor is reached by a side staircase.

Baroque in Marchena

Now we are in the Plaza Ducal. It is very reminiscent of the Plaza de la Corredera in Cordoba. This square is an emblem of Marchena, and has been remodelled various times since the 16th century, the last time being in the 18th century when the new Casas Capitulares were built. For centuries, religious festivals, tournaments and bullfights, among other celebrations, have all taken place on this site.

The moment has come to become acquainted with the religious side of baroque art, as we go into the Parish Church of San Juan —the city’s most highly-prized church, which houses the Parish Museum of Zurbarán. There are so many artistic treasures contained within its wallsthat we could spend hours here.

VirginThis temple, originally conceived by Gothic and Mudejar architects, is home to renaissance and baroque works of art. The main altar, an authentic masterpiece of Sevillian art, is extremely impressive, as are other minor works of intense baroque style that can be found in the aisles. The choir is an outstanding work, truly excellent, in keeping with the importance that this small cathedral gave to music. In fact, this tradition has been kept alive through the efforts of Marchena’s Academia de Órgano (Organ School), the only one of its kind in Spain. The choir, enclosed by splendid iron railings, was built of high-quality wood such as cedar and cyprus, and the seats stand out for their intricate relief carvings. Let’s go through to the sacristy, where we can admire a collection of canvases by the great painter Zurbarán. Two of these, La Inmaculada and Cristo Crucificado, achieved international renown in the eighties in exhibitions in New York, Paris and Holland. We cannot leave the parish without paying a visit to the Museo de Platería y Ornamentos (Museum of Silverware and Ornaments). Within its glass cases we find, among others, such important pieces as the Custodia Procesional by the prestigious silversmith Francisco de Alfaro. There is still much to see in the Iglesia de San Juan, but not to worry —we will return another day.

We shall now pay a visit to another emblem of Marchena – the Convent of San Agustin, a building which had to wait a century to be consecrated, after many ups and downs. No similar building exists within the province —the convent styles of Madrid and Seville are fused to provide a resting-place for Count Don Manuel Ponce de León of Madrid, a key player in the town’s urban reforms, who is buried here in the presbytery, as he had stipulated in hiswill. Take a moment’s pause in the cloister porticos to admire the patio with its two magnificent walled wells.

We return to our route, making a stop in the Convento de La Inmaculada Concepción (Convent of the Immaculate Conception), where we can marvel at the two cloistered patios and the main altar, a magnificent example of baroque art. Outside the city, near the road to Osuna, we find the Convento de San Andrés, an enclosed convent, inside which, among other pieces of great artistic interest, is a painting by the artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.

Finally, we pay a visit to the Casa Fábrica, which was originally built to serve as workshop, warehouse and granary for the Iglesia de San Juan. Its wealth lies in the beauty of its interior patios and the simplicity of it as a whole.

We still have various examples of the abundant civic and religious baroque art of Marchena to admire, and we will come back another day… but that’s another story.

FLYING WITH VULTURES Seville and Christopher Columbus