Address: Santa María de Gracia, s/n
Phone: 95 414 21 02
After the Christian conquest of the town by king Ferdinand III in 1247, Carmona had to adapt quickly to the consequences of being part of the kingdom of Castille.
In the 15th century, parishes were created and the first convents appeared in Carmona. The oldest of all of the convents here, Santa Clara, (Saint Clare) is occupied by a closed order of nuns belonging to the Franciscans order. The Clarisses are inspired by the life of poverty, charity and sacrifice led by their founder Saint Clare of Assissi, a disciple of Saint Francisco of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan order.
Its foundation was authorized by a papel bull issued by Pope Pio II in 1460, having been petitioned by local noblewomen Teresa and Beatriz de Salcedo. Ever since its beginnings, the convent has counted on large donations of which the one made by Beatriz Pacheco, duchess of Arcos, following her death in 1511, was particularly important.
Judging by its interior structure, its construction took place between the end of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th century.
The church has just one rectangular-shaped nave, covered with a wooden roof, following the typical model of a Sevillian convent of the time. The chancel – the area around the altar – is covered with a Gothic ribbed vault, invoking a style which has much more in common with the purely Christian art of the period.
Points of interest
In the 17th century, the chancel of the church was decorated with golden paintings of sinuous Baroque designs. The main alter-piece, designed and carved by Felipe Ribas in 1645, also dates from this period.
In the interior part of the church there is a tilework plinth, made with techniques linked to Muslim art, but which actually date to the 16th century and, in the higher part of the church nave walls, there is a series of paintings from the mid-17th century which possibly came from the local workshop of a follower of the Zurbarán school.
At the foot of the church is the choir, covering two levels and separated from the rest of the church by a lattice screen.
From the lower part of the choir we reach the cloister, a harmonious quadrangular design over two levels, designed to gain access to the different parts of the convent.
The old church entry was located at the foot of the transept but was subsequently filled in so that nowadays access is through a double main door located in the north wall.
The tower and observation/lookout point
This is one of the most noteworthy parts of the convent, together with the church and the cloister, standing out even more than the church tower. Built in the 17th century in one corner of the convent, it follows the late Baroque design blueprint.
It has various floors and is topped by a four-sided roof.
The convent´s revolving hatch/door
The Clarisse sisters have a bakery where they produce sumptuous cakes – many of which are of Moorish origin -, sponge cakes, merengue and cider cakes, and the traditional torta inglesa all of which, in the old days, were sold via a torno, (an unusual revolving half-sized hatch), built to allow non-face to face transactions, effectively respecting the intimacy of this closed order of nuns.
Since the convent has opened for tourists, it is now possible to buy these delicious delicacies directly from the reception.
Every 6th December, the wide range of cakes produced by the nuns here are put on display and sale in the cloister, with all profits going to the upkeep of the religious community