Unique ceramics in Spain is the country´s unmatched cultural heritage. It is the biggest eye candy for all art aficionados around the world. As a Spanish pottery fan myself, I could endlessly share with you beautiful captures of buildings, floors, and plates that I keep encountering on my Spanish road trips. In fact, that´s what I constantly do on my IG Ceramics stories, so if you still follow along – I guess we are on the same page and you don’t mind it. So let me share with you more unique places to go on a hunt for colorful Spanish tiles.
Ceramics in Spain
While Spain is globally famous for its unique festivities, outstanding landmarks, and natural wonders, there´s one particular thing that has stolen my heart ever since I visited the Iberian Peninsula for the first time. I’m talking about Spanish ceramic tiles and vibrant local pottery. It constantly grabs your attention across Spain no matter where you go. These vibrant tiles often decorate facades, stairs, walls, or even street name signs. The ceramics in Spain are incredibly unique if you travel to the areas with rich ceramic history. So, where can you find the best places for Ceramics lovers in Spain?
In this post, I will try to fill you in briefly on the most unique Spanish small towns where the local ceramic tradition still persists against the globalization and era of multinationals.
The origins of ceramics in Spain
The origins of the Spanish ceramics could be traced back to the Arabs on the Iberian Peninsula. In the picture below you can see how ceramic art and traditions were spread across the Mediterranean region. Historians claim that the first important Spanish ceramic factory appeared in Granda back in the XI century.
Nowadays, painted tin-glazed tile works across Spain and Portugal are known as azulejo. The term “azulejo” is derived from the Arabic word “al-zulaich,” which means “polished stone.”
Top places to find ceramics in Spain
In the city of Valencia, you will find one of the most beautiful ceramic museums in Spain – Marques de Dos Aguas Palace. It houses the largest national collection of ceramic in Spain, dating from the 18th century to modern times. It is a must-stop even if you have one day in Valencia. The museum´s exposition also includes a selection of pieces from the nearest ceramic artisan hubs – Alcora, Paterna, and Manises.
The small town of Manises is one of the coolest Valencia day trips. Manises is known for more than 700 years of ceramic crafts. The town is particularly famous for its golden and blue pottery pieces of the 14th and 15th centuries, as well as polychromatic earthenware and tiles from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Nearby Manises you will find another small Spanish ceramic museum – Museo Municipal de Ceramica de Paterna.
Talavera de la Reina
Relatively close to the famous city of Toledo, you will find the small town of Talavera de la Reina, another creative hub of Spanish ceramic. Fans of ceramics in Spain can’t miss: Museo Ceramico Ruiz de Luna, Basilica del Prado, Bridges of the Alameda, Prado Gardens, Ethnographic Museum, and local ceramic shops (see the full list here).
On a local tourist website of Talavera de la Reina, you can enjoy 360-degree murals online. You can also arrange a visit to one of the local ceramic workshops (unfortunately this info is only available in Spanish).
Ceramica de Talavera is also a well-known handmade style in Mexico. Back in 1575, when the country was a Spanish colony, a group of ceramic artists from Talavera de La Reina was sent to a Mexican village Puebla de Los Angeles with the aim of establishing a traditional workshop. Since 2019, Ceramics of Talavera from both Spain (Talavera de la Reina and El Puente del Arzobispo) and Mexico (Puebla and Tlaxcala) have been included in the UNESCO list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
There are many compliments one can possibly address to the city of Seville. Not only is it one of my favorite places in Spain, but it actually unites all the famous things Spain globally ranks for. Moorish walls, Roman ruins, Mudejar decorations, Renaissance architecture, the orange-tree plazas, delicious tapas, entertaining fiestas, the magic of flamenco, and of course the beautiful Spanish ceramics.
Seville´s rich ceramic history began during the Islamic times in the quarter barrio de Triana. While local factories no longer exist you can still visit a local ceramic museum Centro Cerámica Triana, as well as ceramic artisan stores and workshops. Seville´s ceramic tradition was largely influenced by Italian cities, like Savona.
The province of Castellon is home to the Spanish ceramic tile industry, and world-known factories like Porcelanosa. The city of Castellon is an easy day trip from Valencia by train. Within the city center, you´ll find lots of ceramic facades and decorations. A local museum Museo de Bellas Artes de Castellon houses a unique collection of ceramic pottery.
While this Castellon town hall website only provides info in Spanish, you can still pick up a few new ceramic-related places/buildings/facades to visit in the city and then drop by the local Tourist Office (location: Casa Abadía, Plaza de la Hierba) and ask them for directions.
Two ceramic museums in the province of Castellon are Manolo Safont Tile Museum and Ceramic Museum of Alcora. Both are worth visiting.
Even though the small town of Alcora also belongs to the province of Castellon, I´d like to give it a separate shout-out. This village was once home to one of the greatest Spanish factories – Conde de Aranda (1727) using crafts from Italy, France, and Holland. It was there the first Spanish porcelain was created back in 1751.
The Ceramic Museum of Alcora is a great place to learn more about local ceramic traditions. To my surprise, it also has a few absolutely unique modern ceramic artworks. Across the small town of Alcora, you’ll also find lots of ceramic murals and decorations: Portales de Marco y Verdera (s.XIV), Iglesia Parroquial Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, Salón Gótico (Casa de la Musica) (s.XIV), Capilla de Marco, local murals –“Bloc de Notas”, “Muro Dentro do Muro” y “Cruce de Caminos”, “Árbol y Tierra”, “Tránsitos”.
In, Alcora there are currently two ceramic workshops selling unique Spanish ceramic pieces – Cop D´Art and Marti I Miralles, both also offer ceramic-decorating classes.
More places for ceramic lovers
While exploring the Spanish art arena, discovering secret museums and hidden villages across the whole country you will constantly discover more examples of Ceramics in Spain, for instance – Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas in Madrid, El Museo del Disseny in Barcelona, La Fabrica de Sargadelos in Galicia.
Do you like vibrant ceramics in Spain? Are you a handmade pottery fan?
Ceramic lovers can also enjoy videos on my IG Highlight Ceramic in Spain.