The imposing Church of San Luis de los Franceses

What to see in seville

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The imposing Church of San Luis de los Franceses

It is one of the places in Seville that you have to visit

It is located in the vicinity of La Macarena and yet it goes unnoticed by many tourists, but the value of the treasure that it is on the outside and inside is incalculable. And you have to know that Seville is much more than the Giralda, the Plaza de España or the Reales Atarazanas.

The artist who was responsible for the construction of its interior, Pedro Duque Cornejo, has been clearly undervalued as he is relatively unknown. He is one of those versatile artists who worked in sculpture, painting, architecture and as an engraver. He was responsible for the altarpieces inside the church, a work that became obsessive for him.

In addition to his meticulousness and passion for his work, there was one more reason for his meticulous dedication to every detail, which is quite anecdotal. If he left the church he would be thrown into prison, but as long as he remained inside he could not be apprehended according to the laws of the time. It was because in a town in the province of Huelva (Trigueros) about 100 kilometres from Seville, he had left some unfinished works for which he had been denounced. So he sought asylum in San Luís, and the monks did him the favour of sheltering him while he devoted himself to embellishing the altarpiece of this church, so that as long as he was in a sacred place he could not be arrested, and so he spent months without going out. By the time he considered that he had finished his very complete work, the statute of limitations had expired.

A baroque feat of the period

The facade presents a variety of the most attractive and original colours to be found on a church in Europe. Those with a passion for architecture and art in general will be delighted by the sight of each of the details and sculptural elements rich in religious symbolism on the façade. But if you go inside, you will discover that it has nothing to envy the grandeur of the exterior. Many of those who have visited it describe it as “being in heaven”.

This church is one of the great jewels of the city and of European baroque, and therefore deserves to be preserved as the jewel that it is. The latest remodelling work consists of recovering the splendour of the facade towers, designed by Leonardo de Figueroa, which have not been restored since the 1990s, in order to prevent the degeneration that even caused some detachments in the south tower in 2018.

On the other hand, a work has been undertaken in the Sala de Profundis to adapt it as a cultural space in which exhibitions can be held, using temperature and humidity regulating equipment, as it is a space that was covered up some time ago to be used as a multi-purpose room and warehouse, and has neither ventilation nor natural light. This Sala de Profundis, covered by groin vaults, is located in the main gallery of the Monumental Complex of San Luis de los Franceses, making it a privileged location and an ideal space for exhibitions. 

Thus, a visit to this place will be useful by visiting the crypt, the church, the chapel, the permanent exhibition of baroque and contemporary painting in the Refectory Hall, and the exhibitions held in this newly refurbished hall.

Reasons enough

There are more interesting details such as the fact that the church is oriented in order to the transit of the sun, so that the altar of San Estanislao, which holds the child Jesus and represents life, is in the north and always has light; and that of San Francisco Borja, which holds the putrefied skull of the Empress of Isabel of Portugal and represents death, is in the south and remains almost always in darkness. It is worth entering and observing all these details.

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