One of the most original, romantic and stylishly Spanish architectural genres of the late 19th century modernist movement is the decorative and distinctly Hispanic "Neomudéjar" style. Its enduring characteristic use of bricks, as the main constructive element, gives this architectural method its versatility and the power to be pretty.

Neomudéjar really hit the Spanish architecture scene in the late 19th century, as a kind of Moorish Revival, and soon spread across Spain. Spanish architects mixed a wide range of Arab and Western inspired designs to create truly original works of grandeur.

One such example is "Hermanitas de los Ancianos Desamparados", roughly translated to mean "The Sisters of the Abandoned Elders". This enormous building is a refuge for the elderly, or we would say a "nursing home", in the city of Sueca, capital of the Ribera Baixa in the Valencia province. It was built in 1911, ending in 1919, by a Sueca-born architect by the name of  Buenaventura Ferrando Castells.

Castells did his training in Madrid where every student architect was taking their cues from the Vienna Secession movement that promoted modernism as a new twist on the Neoclassical. However, Castells was a proud Valenciano and was inspired by the Valenican Modernist movement, which was leading the way with the construction of new bullrings around the province. His nursing home design is both formal in structure with a square base flanked by twin towers and yet it is pushed to a whole other level of creativity with the incorporation of different architectural styles all rendered in brick.

Let's take a look at some of these features...

* Report by Arts Historian and Educator , Karla Darocas, Hons. B.A. (
* Copyright photos and text : Karla Darocas 2018 *

At first glance, you can see the overall harmony and balance of the windows and towers. It has perfect symmetry, an component of the Neoclassical trend. Get closer to the patterns and designs made entirely from Mudejar's complicated tiling patterns and marvel at the sophistication.

At the top are Gothic blue framed windows set into Mudéjar style horseshoe arches. They are topped by a basket weave brickwork. Below the windows, standing proudly in a Baroque robe and halo is Christ himself with his hair long. He is under a royal crown and standing in a niche that is surrounded by 3d herringbone brickwork.

The lower windows are gorgeous narrow Gothics with wooden frames and surrounded by receding brickwork and again the 3d herringbone on top.

Each tower has round ocular windows that are topped by a Latin cross created by geometry planned and worked into the bricking. Looking up from the base of the tower, you can see the geometric shapes forming a positive upward arrow shape out of the brink work. Amazing!

Taken from the Baroque era are these wonderful Solomonic or corkscrew columns on the main front. And going back the Medieval era, this building is guarded by crazy winged Gothic beasts as gargoyles that help to channel rain water away from the brickwork.

From the sides, there are more geometric shapes to ponder like classical squares and rectangles. The entire compound is surrounded by a wrought iron fence showcasing both arabesques and baroque designs.

Inside the main doors is an entrance hall. Once again, we see the marvelous brickwork of the craftsmen who perform their magic around this beautiful, balanced and wide multifoil arch pine door, that has transforms into a tree of life.

The entrance is a Gothic vaulted room with exposed ribs that hold a light in the key stone. The arch ribs in the vault are attached to the wall with formerets or wall-ribs that rest on decorative triangular brickwork corbels or brackets.

From a distance, we can see Baroque gable style bell towers with decorative ornaments on top. The entrance portal is Gothic as are all the lower flanking windows.


Sueca's economy in the 19th century was fundamentally agrarian. It took on a more powerful position when it started the cultivation of rice.

In the 20th century, the farmers of Sueca moved from serving their noble landowners, who in many cases lived in Valencia or in other towns, to becoming individual, private agricultural owners of some importance.

On the 22nd of April, 1922, two wealthy families joined their assets by the marriage of Antonio Baldoví Beltrán and Teresa Cardona Burguera.

The construction of the Hermanitas de los Ancianos Desamparados was financed with their inheritance money.

According to Beltrán's instructions, the building would become a pantheon for he and his wife, who would each have a sarcophagus tomb placed and admired in the nave of the internal church. However, during the second half of the 20th century these funerary monuments were moved to one of the courtyards on the north side.


This building is beautiful. There are many ancient Arab decorative elements built into the design of this building, along with Gothic and even a bit of Baroque. It is absolutely eclectic.