The Casa-Museo Benlliure
As Valencia’s first family of art, the Benlliures left an indelible mark on the city’s cultural landscape, around the turn of the 20th century. We visited their former home on Calle Blanquerias, which has been converted into a museum dedicated to the family and their astounding artistic output.
Three separate Benlliures managed to achieve widespread fame in the world of art. José Benlliure (1858-1937) was a painter well-known throughout Spain for his grand historical works, while his younger brother Mariano (1862-1947) specialized in sculpture. José’s son Peppino (1884-1916) was born in Rome, but returned to Valencia where he became a highly accomplished impressionist painter. Peppino might have become the greatest of the Benlliures, but died of a lung disease at the age of 32.
I’m going to take a risk, and classify the Casa-Museo Benlliure as one of Valencia’s “hidden gems.” This could be ignorant; this museum might usually be swarming with people. It should be! It’s in the city center, just down the road from the Torres Serrano, and it’s beautiful — you step through the doors and are transported back 100 years in time. But despite living in Valencia for years, we had never entertained the notion of visiting. We’d never heard anyone talk about it, nor received a single recommendation from any of our friends or acquaintances.
So I’m quite certain that, yes, the Casa-Museo Benlliure is a hidden gem. And it was right under our noses all this time. After wandering about the three floors of the main residence, whose rooms are packed with artwork from the Benlliure boys, visitors can exit into the garden, shaded by orange and lemon trees and decorated with antique Valencian tiles. In the back of the garden, there’s another house full of paintings, a private library, and a collection of ancient artifacts.
And it’s all so lovely! On the first floor of the mansion and within the garden house, the rooms retain their original furniture, providing a sense of the tasteful opulence in which the Benlliures lived. We spent a long time here, but still couldn’t enjoy the house in as leisurely a fashion as it seems to demand. So I made a mental note to return one day soon, perhaps with a book. I could spend all day here… reading in the garden, and occasionally retiring inside to inspect a favorite painting.
… and actually, I could spend every day here. The staff might eventually get annoyed with me, especially once I begin confusing them for my servants. But hey, I’ve paid the entrance fee, so what can they do? Yes, I’m going to seriously consider becoming the guy who lives in the Casa Museo Benlliure. At least during opening hours.