Potro Square (Square of the Colt)
The old and historical Potro Square is located near the bank of River Guadalquivir, marking the border between the medieval neighbourhoods of Santa María and San Nicolás de la Axerquía. From the Mosque-Cathedral, we only need to go down the narrow and winding Cardenal González Street, until we reach a great open space, with a Triumph of San Rafael at its front.
According to scholars, Potro Square was named after an old lodge, among others, which disappeared. Ramírez de las Casas Deza claims that "in that place colts and mules were sold in the past". However, the most reasonable and accepted theory is that it is named after the fountain in its centre. ... [Read more...]
Potro Square was originally conceived as a square space, completely closed, rather than rectangular and opened, as it is today. These urban changes have happened due to several needs the city has had to cover with time. The first great remodelling of the space was the creation of the disappeared Hospital of Charity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, where the Museum of Fine Arts and Julio Romero de Torres are today. Years later, the side facing the river was demolished in order to improve the way to its bank, and the mentioned Triumph of San Rafael, by Verdiguier, was located there, after having been transferred from the central San Hipólito Square. Some believe that this was done to imitate the closing of the square.
The fountain, the main element of the square, dates back to Felipe II’s mandate, and it was commissioned by Chief Magistrate Garcí Suárez de Carvajal, aiming at improving the water supply in the area. It was originally located where the monument of San Rafael is today, but it was moved to the other side of the square around 1847.
With an octagonal floor, it has two steps to get to the basin, which is approximately a metre high. A column which has been cut in its shaft acts as a base for the sink, from which we can see a pineapple with four heads, which are the pipes through which water is pumped. Over it we can see the proud rampant colt. Water is pumped, as we say, from the four heads on the pineapple and it falls in the sink, where other four holes drop the water in the basin, thus creating a magnificent and refreshing sound.
We must highlight that both the fountain in Potro Square and the one missing from Corredera Square received water from Maimón Spring, located on the outskirts of the city, an old Roman aqueduct from Emperor Augustus’s times.
A tile on the façade of the Museum of Fine Arts from 1917 tells us that "The Prince of Inventiveness of Spain, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, with lineage from Córdoba, mentioned this place and neighbourhood in the best novel in the world. Several neighbours from Córdoba with love for the city and veneration for the country dedicate this humble memory to the unequalled writer".
The truth is that he not only mentioned this square in his novels "Don Quijote de la Mancha" or "Rinconete y Cortadillo", but he also lived here. Besides, his grandfather Juan de Cervantes, and his great-grandparents, Rodrigo and Catalina, were also from here.
Miguel de Cervantes was born in Alcalá de Henares (Madrid) in 1547, but he moved to Valladolid with his family when he was only 4. His father, Rodrigo de Cervantes, who was a doctor, went through a severe economic crisis which took him to prison as he could not pay his debts for some time. When he finished his sentence, he took his family to Córdoba, and they settled in Sillerías Street, today Romero Barros, where he worked as a surgeon in Hospital of Charity. He lived in Córdoba until his grandparents died in 1557. However, he frequently travelled to our city, such as when he came back to be at the funeral of playwright Lope de Rueda, who he had admired since his childhood.
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