The House of the Tiros is a museum and building located in the Spanish city of Granada, autonomous community of Andalusia. It is located in the neighborhood of the Realejo, in the street Pavaneras. Its name is due to the artillery pieces that are in its battlements. At the moment it is the headquarters of the Museum House of the Tiros of Granada; during some years, was also soothes of Ateneo of Granada.
It was built in the sixteenth century by the similarity of the Granadian palaces of the time and acquired by Gil Vazquez de Rengifo, commander of Montiel and one of the knights who participated in the Conquest of Granada with the Catholic Monarchs. The house was part of the wall of the neighborhood of the Potters, hence its aspect of military fort. Of the original building only the Tower is conserved, around which it has been constructed later.
The museum grew with works such as drawings, prints, lithographs, photographs, drawings, pieces of local handicrafts such as muds, lanterns, fabrics, bibliographical collections of Granada, travel, serial publications, brochures, posters or newspapers donated by private individuals. Make up the funds of this museum.
The museum was inaugurated in 1929 after the lengthy lawsuit regarding the Generalife concluded. In the agreement, the State recovered the estates of the Generalife and received, as a donation, the Casa de los Tiros, which is located at the entrance to one of the most unique areas in the city, the “Realejo”. The first tourist information office is located in this building, and the other rooms are dedicated to the development of a graphic museum of the history of Granada, very much in line with the local museums which were being set up around this time in Spain. The promoter or architect of this first museological and museographical project was Antonio Gallego Burín, who managed to gather together a significant collection of objects with a Granada theme. These objects were organised by environmentally recreating history in a chronological sequence which was begun in the 16th century and ended in the 20th century.
The selection criteria for the objects displayed a profound sense of the future, because efforts were focused on recovering drawings, engravings, lithographs, photographs, drawings, pieces of local craftsmanship such as earthenware, streetlamps, fabrics, etc. Bibliographical objects with a Granada theme, travel documents, series of publications, pamphlets etc. were also collected. This significant effort to organise the Museum was completed with the collection, through purchase or donation, of private archives from individuals who were of note in the cultural life of Granada. Gallego Burín would also donate his personal archives to this museum.
In the layout of the Casa de los Tiros Museum from 1929, there are several halls of special interest, such as the one dedicated to the Romantic travellers, centred on the figure of Washington Irving; the hall on industrial art, which accommodates the value and importance of the local craftsmanship; or the hall dedicated to the gypsy world, the only one dedicated to such an important human group at the time.
Antonio Gallego Morell, son of Gallego Burín, will continue his father’s work, consolidating and adding to the objects, even improving on the plan to dedicate a special interest in the literary world and world of journalism in Granada, which will add to the understanding of the exhibition halls.
After a profound restoration of the building, which was completed in the last decade of the 20th century, a plan was made to re-direct its image towards a museum with a more specific content, and thus a new type of exhibition space focused around Granada in the 19th century was created. This new image was based on the 1929 project, in addition to a close analysis of its collections, since there is a clear reference to the 19th century both chronologically and in the wealth of its objects. Consequently, throughout all of the exhibition spaces in the historical building, the museum which is presented in the visit displays a solid vision of those events and concepts which marked the 19th century.
This reorganisation of the museum discourse has implied a modernisation of the services regarding the research of local themes, providing the researchers with significant objects including series of publications, the library, the archive and the rich examples of cartography which are not on exhibit as well as lithographs, photographs, engravings with a Granada theme, etc.
The historical importance of the building must also be mentioned, in particular, the tower or main body with which the house, as an example of architecture from the 16th century, is presented to the city. Based on an Islamic past, the tower was transformed by its owner, Gil Vázquez Rengifo, in the 16th century, developing an interesting symbolic programme linked to and based on the exaltation of the medieval hero and the passage into modernity in this process.
The facade of the tower, as such is the shape of the building, ashlar and decorated by five sculptures on consoles, representing Hercules, Theseus, Mercury, Jason and Hector. The heroes are represented in an attitude of willingness to enter into battle at any time. They have separate feet to achieve greater stability, shoulders straightened and the view fixed in the distance. The figures are natural in size and since the facade of the narrow three-story building lacks other decorative elements, its virility and bellicosity make a great impression. On the façade a large door is opened from the 17th century, and a sword piercing a heart is carved on it. The following motto can be read: “The (heart) commands”.
The high hallway occupies the lower part of the tower, covered by a flat wooden roof with large beams supported by Gothic shoes. Among the beams, polychrome paintings of mythological animals and fighting beasts.
The courtyard of simple forms, with whitewashed walls, and the Muslim style with a small fountain in the middle and Nasrid columns.
The modern main staircase, dating from the eighteenth century and culminating with vaulted windows, leads to the upper floor, and decorated with a collection from the Generalife of portraits of the Spanish kings of the House of Austria by court portraitists, Copies made during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
The main staircase in the sixteenth century, contains pictorial mural decoration, representing the virtues: Charity, Hope, Justice and an Immaculate.
In the back of the building is the small garden, so typical of the buildings of Granada, where there are cypresses, boxwood, pomegranate, orange and myrtle trees. It has a fountain and a pond, as well as busts and sculptures. Some of its shrubs have names, having been planted by intellectuals of the time, as is the case of a laurel planted by Elena Martín Vivaldi.
The Golden Square, the most emblematic hall of the building, with Renaissance armor that decorates its ceiling and murals. The frescoes on the walls represent heroes and warriors, and there are four tondos with relief figures of heroines of antiquity.
The facade of the tower, as such is the shape of the building, of masonry and decorated by five sculptures on consoles, which represent Hercules, Theseus, Mercury, Jason and Hector. The heroes are represented in an attitude of readiness to enter battle at any moment. They have their feet apart for greater stability, their shoulders straightened and their eyes fixed on the distance. The figures are in natural size and since the facade of the narrow three-story building lacks other decorative elements, its virility and bellicoseness make a great impression. 4On the façade, a large, 17th-century gate is opened, and a sword piercing a heart is carved on it. The following motto can be read: ” The (heart) rules “. We find two balconies and three bronze knockers, fastened by hearts as nails that hold them, where you can read:
“The heart rules! People of war, exercise arms.
The heart breaks like a knocker calling us to battle and Aldabadas are what God gives and the heart feels them”
The high-rise hall occupies the lower part of the tower, covered by a flat wooden roof with large beams supported by Gothic shoes. Among the beams, polychrome paintings of mythological animals and wild beasts fighting.
The courtyard of simple forms, with whitewashed walls, and Muslim style with a small fountain in the middle and Nasrid columns.
The modern main staircase, dated from the 18th century and culminated with a vault with windows, gives way to the upper floor, and decorated with a collection from the Generalife of portraits of the Spanish kings of the House of Austria made by the portraitists of the Court, copies made during the 16th and 17th centuries.
The main staircase in the 16th century, contains mural pictorial decoration, representing the virtues: Charity, Hope, Justice and an Immaculate.
To the rear of the building is the small garden, so typical of Granada buildings, where cypresses, boxwood beds, pomegranates, orange trees and arrayanes. It has a fountain and a pond, as well as busts and sculptures. Some of its bushes have names, having been planted by intellectuals of the time, as is the case with a laurel planted by Elena Martín Vivaldi.
The Golden Square, the most emblematic room of the building, with Renaissance armor that decorates its ceiling and wall paintings. Its name refers to the abundance of golden reflections of its alfarje or coffered ceiling. Formed by large planks with bas-reliefs and texts, supported by large beams and shoes with shapes of historical figures, representing a chess board, being a sample of those who fought to achieve the unity of Spain, describing under each one the exploits that made them Famous. There is Alarico, Hermenegildo, Recaredo, Alfonso V,López de Mendoza, as well as the Catholic Monarchs architects of that unit and Carlos I, who elevated it to the category of Empire, and Isabel of Portugal. The frescoes located on the walls represent heroes and warriors, and there are four rounds with the embossed heroine figures of Antiquity.
The museum was growing with works such as drawings, prints, lithographs, photographs, plans, pieces of local handicrafts such as mud, lanterns, textiles, bibliographic backgrounds of Granada, travel, serials, brochures, posters or newspapers, donated by individuals who make up the funds of this museum.
Room I. The landscape: Sample of different graphic and literary representations of the city of Granada.
Room II Orientalism (I): Favorite theme of Romanticism.
Room III Orientalism (II): Representation of the concept of the oriental, which would reach its peak in the nineteenth century. Travel books that spread the taste for the exotic and the Middle Ages, making the city of Granada the goal and search for those values, being a city where the eastern and the western converge, being a reference for poets, painters, musicians and writers of the stature of José Zorrilla who turned his poem Granada into one of the most important orientalist poems concerning Romanticism.Another factor shown is the birth of Orientalist studies, with figures such as Francisco Javier Simonet, Leopoldo Eguilaz, Gaspar Remiro, Miguel Lafuente Alcántara, Antonio Almagro Cárdenas and the creation of the Historical and Philological Society of Friends of the East and the recovery of La Alhambra, incorporating the first conservation theories.
Room IV Travelers: Thanks to its rich cultural past and its geographical proximity, due to its aspect of another time and its Islamic past, the city of Granada becomes a place to visit at the end of the 19th century, as the Alhambra and the rest of the city, which still retained its old town planning, became one of the great myths of Romanticism. Some of these travelers were writers or painters, disseminators of Granada throughout Europe through their stories, their engravings or lithographs. The environment that these travelers could find when they arrived in the city is recreated.
Room V-VI. Industrial arts: Fajalauza pottery samples, produced in the Albaycín neighborhood,and small sculptures, popularly called “muds” for travelers and the Granada bourgeoisie.
Room VII. The costumbrismo: The costumbrismo of century XIX centered in popular types like bandits, sellers, and, mainly, gypsies of the Sacromonte, since it was a district that was especially attractive to the travelers and writers of the time. Granada was a peripheral area and very little modernized and because it became an inescapable destination, its people also became famous in books, paintings, photographs and prints, although the transmitted image was not a vision of reality, but a vision much more romantic.
Room VIII Transit: Some of the key Granada figures of the 19th century are presented.
Room IX. Isabelina Room: an environmental recreation of the Elizabethan period, incorporating armchairs, carpets or Elizabethan furniture, turning it into a period room.
Room X. Woman from Granada: the female presence through a collection of oils, basically portraits of women, of which the treatment given to the clothing of its protagonists stands out. They highlight “Woman with parrot”, by Joaquín de la Rosa, dated 1839, or “Woman in the green suit” by José González from 1851. It also has a literary collection of traditions where the Granada woman is the protagonist, highlighting the magazine of the “Madre de Familia” bourgeoisie, the biographies of Eugenia de Montijo or Mariana Pineda or photographs such as that of Emilia Llanos. There are also artistic-literary associations, such as “El Liceo” or “La Cuerda Granadina”
Room XI. Great events: journalism was the axis of communication of the nineteenth century. The newspapers are the richest heritage of this museum, so this becomes the main protagonist room. “The Defender of Granada” or “The Constitutional Fool” are some of the samples that can be found. The most important issues they denounce are poverty, illiteracy or the poor health situation of the city and become engines of the demands of modernity so demanded at this time.
Room XII Room of the parties: Sample of the great parties of Granada and those of the neighborhood. The phenomenon of “cartelism” is evident in this room. Bullfights, hand programs, texts and prints of the tradition of the city’s festivities and the growing role of photographic photography. You can also see a unique piece, axis of the big party of Corpus and which is known as the ” Tarasca “.
The collection began to meet shortly before 1929, once the creation of a museum center dedicated to the history of the city was decided. From that moment, its first director, Antonio Gallego Burín, had the financing of the Royal Tourism Commission, on which the museum depended, to acquire unique pieces that would fill the previously designed speech.
For this purpose, direct purchase was made in antique dealers and the acquisition of some private fund, such as that which belonged to the writer and journalist Francisco de Paula Valladar. Over time, other works came from the museum as a result of the donation of individuals, which enriched both the museum’s background and that of its library, centered on the history of Granada, and its newspaper library, which gathers Granada press from the 18th century to the present.
Among these revenues are significant: the legacy of the writer Melchor Fernández Almagro, which includes a rich epistolary in which his correspondence with his friend Federico García Lorca stands out; the donations of Antonio Gallego Morell, about Ángel Ganivet and his father, Antonio Gallego Burín; that of Ángeles Guerrero Ganivet, with photographs and documents about Ángel Ganivet; or the Seco de Lucena family, on the El Defensor de Granada archive.
The museum offers visitors three tours of its facilities. First, the main itinerary, room to room, starting from the central courtyard and ascending the stairs to the different floors. Second, the visitor can opt for a thematic or purely chronological view, thanks to the flexibility of his museological approach. Finally, a third option is proposed consisting of visiting the building itself for its architectural value, focusing on the uniqueness of the tower, patio and garden that the house has, drawing attention to its spatial conception as a typical Granada home.
Given the nature of the museum’s funds and the era to which they mostly belong, the nineteenth century has chosen to focus the discourse of the permanent exhibition in this historical period, with the intention of extending this chronological limit in the future and being aware that it is always possible to use the temporary exhibition hall as a complement to expand in detail the multiple aspects of museum discourse.
In the main tour of the permanent collection, a chronological criterion on the nineteenth century has not been followed, but the vision of this century has been raised from the great themes that, constant throughout the century, have marked the identity of Pomegranate.
Thus, room I begins the tour with an approach to the image of the city, transmitted over time by a multitude of artists who have contributed to fix it, not only locally but worldwide. In the following two rooms, a basic element is explained in the understanding of this historical moment of the city, Orientalism, which had an internationally famous point of attention in Granada, the Alhambra. Complement of the above is room IV, dedicated to remind travelers who arrived in Granada throughout the 19th century. Foreign travelers, such as Washington Irving, of which a portrait is exhibited, such as Spaniards.
Rooms V and VI focus on Granada’s industrial arts: mud, metal work, alpujarreños fabrics, brass lanterns and, above all of them, Fajalauza ceramics. Costumbrismo also occupies a prominent place in the Spanish culture of the 19th century, which is reflected in room VII, where the racial myths of the Spanish people are protagonists, with special reference to Granada: the Granada-born bullfighter Frascuelo (c. 1885), the Hazelnuts of the Hazel, the gypsies of the Sacromonte caves, etc.
On the lower floor, room IX recreates a nineteenth-century hall, with female portraits of artists from Granada and documentary and graphic references to the most important women of Granada’s life of the moment. These images are repeated in the next room, along with other testimonies of the cultural life of the city of the nineteenth century: theatrical posters, brochures, photographs and prints; not forgetting the gatherings like La Cofradía del Avellano,represented through the portrait of Ángel Ganivet. The XI room documents, thanks to the press, the historical evolution of Granada, from the Napoleonic invasion to the social and urban changes experienced in the city around 1900. And closes this route the XII room, where the main festival of the city, Corpus Christi, is the protagonist of posters and lithographs.
Knowing the richness of the exhibited collection it is easy to propose or undertake other routes or visits from other perspectives, such as a purely chronological vision or the possibility of following the history and evolution of various artistic techniques such as print or photography.
Finally, it is highly recommended a visit in which the protagonist is the building starting with the spaces of the museum that remember his past as a palace of Gil Vázquez Rengifo and later of the Granada Venegas or Marquises of Campotéjar, of which the hallway is preserved with animal paintings on the ceiling; following the main staircase, where a collection of portraits of Spanish kings of the House of Austria from the Generalife is exhibited; the small staircase of the 16th century with wall paintings of the Virtues; and, finally, the Golden Square, the main hall of the building, which retains remnants of mural painting and a rich wooden wall decorated with reliefs of the most important characters in the history of Spain until the reign of Emperor Carlos V.