In the Spanish town of Manises, if a surface can be tiled, it probably is. Located close to Valencia, it has for several centuries been synonymous with the manufacture of exquisite tiles and ceramic pieces.
The art was brought over by the Moors. The region’s golden period of ceramic production began in the 14th century and went on until the 18th century. The delicate pottery pieces blended Arabic and Christian influences and were famous across the continent and beyond. Deep blue, their signature color, was common in many of the pieces.
The industry fell on hard times in the 19th century and things worsened even further in the 20th century. Although the town has lost some of its international prestige, ceramics are still the most important aspect of the town and many parts still proudly showcase the form.
One of the best places to see and appreciate the exquisite ceramics is Avenida Blasco Ibáñez. While walking along this main thoroughfare dedicated to Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, a prolific author and local hero, you will see large tiled panels on both sides depicting images derived from his many novels. The panels are about four feet high and five feet long and showcase the best of Spanish literature and visual art. The neighborhood is also where several ceramic producers have their premises and shopfronts, which are highly decorated with their tile work. There are still plenty of ceramic workshops here, although there seems to be a recent trend of closures.
The massive tiled cross in the middle of Avenida Blasco Ibáñez is also very impressive. The town’s tourism office is covered in attractive tiles and nearby is the municipal market, which has some fantastic panels.
The ceramics fest is not limited to this street. There is also the municipal Museum of Ceramics on Carrer Sagrari, which presents the various production techniques used throughout the centuries. The top floor features a small gallery with modern ceramic works.
Know Before You Go
When travelling from Valencia city it is easiest to go to Manises by the Metro.