Manises has been one of the 49 localities declared UNESCO Creative Cities by the end of 2021. A recognition for the commitment to put culture and creativity at the heart of development and to share knowledge and good practices. The city of València’s South Hour thus joins a network that currently has 295 cities in 90 countries.
To achieve this milestone, the candidacy was developed by the Department of Tourism and Promotion of Ceramics of the Manises City Council together with the Polytechnic University of Valencia. Specifically, the work was led by Professor MªJosé Viñals, who was already in charge of the successful candidate of the Valencian town of Llíria. This work was based on a series of main reasons and axes to achieve recognition.
1 – Ceramics are an essential part of Manises’ identity.
In 1238, King James I handed over the Islamic farmstead of Manises to Artal de Luna. From that moment on, local pottery craftsmanship began to develop in small pre-existing Muslim potteries. This was the first step towards becoming, in later centuries, an authentic production centre known and recognised throughout the world.
2 – Its continuity as a world reference
Nowadays, Manises continues to be a reference point for its ceramics sector made up of craftsmen and artists, production companies and raw material companies. Names such as: Arturo Mora, Cerámicas Palanca, the Valencian Association of Ceramics AVEC-prize, Jose Gimeno Martínez, Aliarte Cerámica, Drac Ceramic or Domanises, are just some of the extensive network of the ceramic sector in Manises. It is also one of the few towns, if not the only one, where all the elements for the creation of ceramics are available: from the creation of the pastes, colours and kilns to the configuration and creation of the piece in the different workshops.
3 – Its traditional craft know-how
The pottery tradition has been uninterruptedly present for more than 700 years. The knowledge has been passed down from generation to generation. Thanks to this, our inhabitants have a deep-rooted wealth of heritage that forms part of their local idiosyncrasy.
4 – The desire to conserve, care for and disseminate
With the creation and promotion of the ‘Museu de la Ceràmica de Manises’ it has demonstrated its eagerness to conserve, care for and disseminate its ceramics and its history. Furthermore, through the international ceramics competition, the Manises International Ceramics Biennial, it offers the opportunity to promote and encourage contemporary creation.
5 – Learning as the essence of its unique identity
The Escola d’Art i Superior de Ceràmica of our town has been one of the first schools in Spain of regulated education and the first of Higher Education in Ceramics. From its origins to the present day, it has been a world reference that has trained hundreds of people of local, national and international origin. Professionals such as: Gloria Lacruz, Takashi, Dolores Trujillo, Jessica Tuxuera, Pilar Valderrama and Ana Illueca have trained here.
6 – Defence of the activity and promotion of associationism
Ceramic production in Manises would not have been possible for so many centuries without the ‘Gremi de mestres d’obra de terra’ which, as early as the mid-15th century, defended the local activity and its economic interests.
This guild, which has now become the Valencian Ceramics Association AVEC-GREMI, works together with ANPEC – National Association of Ceramics Professionals and Encisar-te, all of which are based in Manises, to defend, promote and promote ceramics in different social spheres.
7 – Its uses and customs
The link between ceramics and the inhabitants of Manises is evident even in the most everyday gestures, such as the use of ceramic containers to serve food.
8 – Its essence linked to festivals
One of the moments where the link with ceramics is most evident is the celebration of the town’s festivities in honour of ‘Santes Escudelleres: Santa Justa i Rufina’, patron saints of the town’s potters.
Among the events, the celebration of the “Festa i Cavalcada de la Ceràmica” (Ceramics Festival and Cavalcade), declared of Autonomous Tourist Interest, stands out. As well as the Ceramics Cavalcade, a unique spectacle in the world that has been held since 1900 and in which the “clavarios” from the floats present visitors with pieces of local craftsmanship.
9 – For its continuous search for excellence
The good work of the artisans of Manises has made it possible to find pieces or samples of ceramics in the most prestigious museums in the world such as the British Museum (London), Victoria & Albert (London), Louvre (Paris), Museo del Palazzo di Venezia (Rome), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), The Hispanic Society (New York), Jean Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles, California), Smithsonian (Washington D.C.) or Art Institute Chicago (Chicago), among others.
10 – For its links with other cities linked to ceramics
Manises promotes the development of ceramics through its links with other towns such as Montelupo (Florence, Italy) with which it is twinned. As well as actively participating since its foundation in the AeCC (Spanish Association of Ceramic Cities) and in the AeuCC (European Association of Ceramic Cities). Currently, Xavier Morant, the Councillor for the Promotion of Ceramics in Manises chairs the AeuCC, which brings together all the European associations of ceramic cities.
Another of the actions undertaken by the council to promote the development of heritage and ceramics has been the recent incorporation of Manises into the European Ceramics Route. This Cultural Itinerary seeks to revalue the importance that ceramics has had in the construction of the European identity, but above all, in the economic and social development of some regions.
In addition to Manises, Seville and Castellón de la Plana are other Spanish cities that form part of this European Route.