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EMASESA Cultural

This water company in Seville is working hard to organize concerts, exhibitions and competitions. You’d never know it from the outside, but their headquarters are a labyrinth containing not just a palace, but a convent dating back to the 17th century too. Culture, education and the environment go hand in hand at EMASESA Cultural.

By:  B. A. Etxaniz
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Cultural Centre run by the Seville Water Board
Birth: 1997
Location: Seville
Stands out for: bringing together culture, education and the environment
Did you know? they organize exhibitions, competitions and concerts

Brought up on a diet of Western movies from the 1940s, most of us are used to the image of farmers using water pumps under the blazing sun to extract much needed water from underground wells. In the 21st century we’ve become used to using water for cooking or washing without the need for such rigmarole. With just a simple twist of a tap, litres and litres of water magically appear in our homes like blue gold. In the capital of Seville EMASESA is the company responsible for making that possible.

Primarily known as the water supplier for Seville that runs the reservoirs in Aracena, Zufre, Minilla and Gergal, EMASESA also provides culture in Seville: “it’s a way to give something back to our clients after all the trust they’ve invested in us,” highlights Manuel Marchena Gómez, CEO of EMASESA. Under the title EMASESA Cultural they organize concerts, exhibitions, shows, competitions and workshops at their head office on calle Escuelas Pías.

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The administrative head office that houses EMASESA is just the tip of the iceberg. If you visit you’ll find yourself in a labyrinth filled with architectural remains that cover over four centuries of history, amongst them the remains of the Palacio de los Ponce de León and the Convento de la Orden Tercera de los Franciscanos. As you make your way around the building you’ll come across several different patios such as the Novicios, the Sacristía or the Sagrado Corazón intermingled with a 17th century baroque staircase, marble fountains and hand-carved ceiling woodwork. Unsurprisingly, the restoration of the building won the 1990 international Europa Nostra Award.

EMASESA Cultural is predominantly focused on conserving the historic and artistic patrimony of Seville. They are also working hard to promote a respect of the environment in general and water in particular. “Culture is fundamental to allow civilizations to move forward and our survival depends on the conservation of the environment. That’s why we believe culture and the environment should go hand in hand,” explains Marchena. Water is the focus of all activities organized by EMASESA Cultural. The pianist Javier Perianes, the soprano Carmen Serrano, the Peyel Trio… these are just some of the protagonists of their events calendar. They’ve also organized short story and painting competitions, as well as the Concurso de Pintura al Aire Libre Mírate (an open air painting competition).

Their library and archives contain more than a thousand volumes related to the subject of water, it’s efficient use and research on related subjects. EMASESA has its very own Department of Research and Development that looks into areas such as the respect and protection of the environment and sustainable development. EMASESA aims to “bring the company into close contact with citizens and put its facilities and knowledge at their disposal in order to promote the proper use of the water cycle”. Visitors can browse their archives, use the Internet, their online catalogue and even borrow books.

Their specialized knowledge transcends the building and reaches school children throughout Seville. EMASESA organizes two programmes directed at children entitled El agua en las aulas (water in the classroom) and Ven a conocernos (come and meet us): “We hope to educate boys and girls of today, the adults of tomorrow, to respect the environment,” explains Marchena. “Our main aim is the respectful use of water”. Besides visiting their facilities in the city, students are invited to visit the El Gergal reservoir, the water treatment centre El Carambolo, the sewage treatment plant in Tabalada, the El Arboreto Botanical Gardens as well as the Prince Albert I of Monaco Aquarium. In the 2009/2010 school year, more than 18,400 students took part in both programmes.

Far from being simply a municipal water management company, EMASESA has managed to create a following amongst people of all ages who come to enjoy the architecture, culture, educational opportunities, research and environmental initiatives. Each of these areas is working towards a deeper understanding of water and its conservation in the 21st century.

Getting there?

EMASESA Cultural
Palacio Ponce de León & Convento de los Terceros
C/ Escuelas Pías, 1
Sevilla, Sevilla

Opening hours:

Price: Free entry.

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