We’ve been meaning to go here for ages. The first time we searched for this place we ended up a kilometre away staring at a sex-shop window. Resisting the urge to enter, we pledged to find one of Granada’s less-visited attractions another day.
Tucked behind the sky-high trees on Calle de Antequeruela Alta, one of the pedestrian routes up to the Alhambra, a quiet street is home to Fundación Rodríguez-Acosta. And like many of Granada’s cármenes (strictly the Albaicin quarter) – walled house gardens normally with citrus trees and vines – you could easily stroll by it. Not only a sprawling garden over several levels, the building – which contains the studio built by one of Spain’s great 20th century painters, José María Rodríguez-Acosta – sits above everything like a monument, which it is.
He was a lucky fella; born in 1878 in Granada into the soft white underbelly of a banking family, he was left to paint to his heart’s content until something ‘happened in his life’ (we weren’t told during the tour) – so he abandoned painting for years and began designing his studio and gardens.
Built between 1916 and 1930 – with the help of others including Modesto Cendoya (curator of the Alhambra at the time) this was the place he came for inspiration, not least for the views south across the rooftops of Granada. It was never intended as a home – there was no kitchen or bedrooms.
The gardens are very expressionistic and a mix of styles with myriad block/Cubist walls, classical columns, cypress trees, gazebos, a pond (with Venus), Moorish touches, a balcony from a 16th century palace in Ubeda, and even a nun’s tomb (her remains are elsewhere).
On our visit, Granada’s normally-blue skies were hidden by cloud and we couldn’t make head nor tail of the gardens which seemed…well, grey and colourless – and they certainly weren’t as quaint as many carmens are. But maybe that’s what the artist intended. The time of construction, his imagination, and time of year (with barely a flower on display), clearly played their part.
In 1941 the foundation which bears his name came into being – primarily to aid research, award scholarships and run lectures and exhibitions. It includes a fabulous art and library collection, enriched by contributions – most importantly from the family of art historian, archeologist and collector, Manuel Gómez Moreno (b. 1870). He could barely have achieved more during his 100-year life (you can read more about him here).
The Instituto Gómez Moreno came into being in 1973 to promote his legacy. A large collection of paintings, statues and artefacts were donated by his family to be housed in a new annex, which increased the size of the buildings attached to the gardens.
A huge sky-light illuminates objects from Roman and Egyptian artefacts through medieval paintings and sculptures, architectural drawings from the 1500s, Spanish portrait work – to 20th century pieces. It’s an eclectic mix but works brilliantly, although we were given just 15 minutes to admire the works. Not enough time to admire the works in our opinion.
Understandably, most visitors to the city head straight for its grander neighbour, the Alhambra, which stares down through the trees. But spare an hour to visit this place and it will add to your visit to Granada. You can only visit via a tour, which begins every 30 minutes.
Here are some pictures on Pinterest.
Fundación Rodríguez-Acosta: Callejón Niños del Royo. Open 15 March to 14 October, 10am to 6.30pm: 15 March to 14 October, 10am to 4.30pm. 5€ adult ticket.
The website gives a good insight into the place: fundacionrodriguezacosta.com Finally, the people ‘in charge’ of directions should help people find it more easily – search for the address is our advice.
[Photos of gardens only, we weren’t allowed to take interior shots. The weather wasn’t great when we visited, affecting the quality. Click to enlarge.]
© con jamón spain