What is the Popular Athenaeum of Almodóvar del Río?
An Athenaeum is a civil space of culture and freedom. His name refers to the Greek goddess of wisdom, Athena . They were born in the darkness of absolutism to give birth to society through the dissemination of science, arts and letters. The oldest in Spain is the Ateneo de Madrid, founded in 1835, followed by the Ateneo de Cádiz in 1858. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Atheist movement served the most humble classes to meet their educational and cultural needs. In this context, the Popular Athenaeum of Almodóvar del Río was born, the dean civil institution of this town and the third oldest Athenaeum in Andalusia, founded on May 14, 1925.
His first and second articles are two authentic manifestos for culture and freedom: “Under the name of Athenaeum, an association is constituted in this population that will aim to disseminate scientific and artistic knowledge among all social classes in general, and particularly between the working classes ”; “When in the collective life an arbitrariness is committed on the part of the public powers against the inviolable right of people or a limitation to free emission of the thought, this entity will have to make public its disagreement as it deems more opportune, because the silence before the consummated outrage represents the unspoken conformity with it ”.
Manuel Alba Blanes, day laborer, musician, playwright and last Republican mayor of Almodóvar del Río, was its first president. During its beginnings, the concern of the Popular Athenaeum was to open classrooms to teach reading and writing, the creation of an own library, a student, a music school, the organization of conferences, gatherings, participation in the Book Fairs and facilitate access to women's culture. But there was also a place for leisure, with the evenings enlivened by the Merinas Orchestra and the organization of dances for Fair, New Year or Carnival. Despite the advent of the civil war, the Ateneo Popular survived this hard trance while maintaining its name and its founding essence. From then until today, for almost a century, the Popular Athenaeum has tried to maintain this balance between leisure and dissemination, with countless cultural acts of all kinds, being the engine of the civil and cultural society of Almodóvar del Río, all thanks to the delivery, perseverance and commitment of all its partners and Board of Directors throughout its history.
He was one of the founders of the Ateneos de Andalucía Federation, which includes among his honorary atheists personalities of the prestige of Manuel Clavero Arévalo, María de los Ángeles Infante or Salvador Távora. At present, the Ateneo Popular de Almodóvar del Río is the administrative headquarters of the Federation.