Portada » Palace of the Countess of Lebrija.

Palace of the Countess of Lebrija.

Main courtyard. Lebrija Palace. Sevilla.

In the meantime the group of Americans I was guiding through Seville enjoyed their free time, I decided to visit this famous palace. Of course, its treasures caught my attention. However, it was the story of the person behind it, the Countess of Lebrija, that impressed me the most.

María Regla Manjón y Mergelina, Lebrija countess.

Countess of Lebrija. Lebrija palace. Sevilla .

Regla Manjón y Mergelina was born in Sanlúcar de Barrameda in 1851 at the family residence located in El Pradillo. Her parents, Pedro Manjón y Fernández de Valdespino and Leona de Margelina y Gómez de Barreda, belonged to families of ancient nobility. Her father held the positions of senator, member of parliament, and mayor of Sanlúcar.

Regla spent her childhood between her native Sanlúcar and frequent stays in Madrid. After her marriage to Sevillian Federico Sánchez Bedoya in 1895, Regla settled in the Andalusian capital. Despite this, she never stopped visiting Sanlúcar. Her husband was a man of broad culture and significant wealth, much admired and beloved by his fellow Sevillians.

Federico was a captain in the Royal Artillery Corps. After the triumph of the 1868 revolution, he left the military. Once the Bourbon dynasty was restored, he began a brilliant political career affiliated with the Conservative Party of Cánovas del Castillo. He was a member of parliament for Seville, vice president of the Congress of Deputies, and civil governor of Madrid.

Unfortunately, Regla was widowed and childless very early, in 1898, due to Federico’s sudden and unexpected illness. From then on, Regla became a woman committed to the culture, issues, and needs of Sevillian society. She devoted her energy and fortune to them.

Committed to social work.

Countess of Lebrija.

In addition to her passion for art and antiques, her other great passion was social work. Upon her arrival in Seville, Regla was especially dedicated to abandoned children, for whom she built a modern nursery. She donated her estate, Huerta de San Jorge, for this purpose and constructed a regionalist building to care for abandoned children.

Similarly, she actively involved herself in the education of the children of the most disadvantaged Sevillian families, earning her the recognition as an Adoptive Daughter of the city of Seville. She also contributed to the founding of the antitubercular sanatorium El Tomillar in Dos Hermanas and ensured the proper hospital care for soldiers wounded in the African War. For these activities, King Alfonso XIII awarded her the Grand Cross of Charity in 1921.

In the cultural sphere, she was appointed a member of the Seville Monuments Commission in 1918. She was also elected a full academic member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Santa Isabel de Hungría, becoming the first and only woman to be part of this Sevillian institution for many years. Another distinction came a couple of years later when she was recognized as an academic in Seville by the Royal Academy of San Fernando.

She wished to spend her old age among the volumes of her library, but an eye injury prevented her from indulging in her great passion for reading. She passed away in 1938 at the age of 86 in the Sevillian palace she had so lovingly and dedicatedly rebuilt.

Today, the palace still belongs to the countess’s relatives, who continue the work of the foundation that María Regla created.

The palace of Lebrija.

The purpose of acquiring this property in 1901 was to transform it into a place to preserve her archaeological collection, archives, and library. The restoration of the Renaissance palace took her thirteen years, during which she became the Countess of Lebrija, a title bestowed upon her by Alfonso XIII in 1912.

She decorated the central courtyard of the summer ground floor with a large mosaic of the Roman god Pan, originally from the amphitheater of Italica. The rooms and galleries, paved with Roman marble, were adorned with statues, wellheads, and capitals acquired over the years. Additionally, her numerous display cases showcase Roman, Greco-Roman, Arab, Persian, and Chinese pieces.

On the upper floor, used during the winter, she installed the library, a chapel, and various salons. These rooms house an art collection with notable paintings by Van Dyck, Bruegel the Elder, and the school of Murillo.

As you can see, the Sevillian palace of the Countess of Lebrija is a must-visit place. If you want to explore the Andalusian capital and need a guide, let me know in the “contact” section, and we can design the tour. Thank you.

Carolina

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