The history of Seville is closely linked to that of the Guadalquivir River because from its most remote past the city has been both a river port and a bridge between the Atlantic Ocean and the interior of Andalusia, and we must not forget that Seville has always been the crossroads between the north-east and west of the Iberian Peninsula.
Even from the beginning of the first millennium B.C. The area of Seville was destined to become the great market square of the Guadalquivir Valley. The original Seville was born where the river was no longer navigable for sea-going ships. Archaeological excavations at La Cuesta del Rosario confirm that the first permanent settlements date back to the 9th century.
For centuries, analysts and chroniclers gave the honour of tracing the boundaries of Seville to the most popular of the mythical heroes, Hercules. It marked with 6 columns the place where Julius Caesar would later find the city of Seville.
In Roma general called the new city Iulia Romula Hispalis: Iulia, after him, Romula in honour of Rome and Hispalis, according to Saint Isidore in his Etymologies, because when they arrived at the site they saw many of the buildings had wooden piles nailed to the ground as foundations to avoid river water.
Subsequent historical research on the foundation of Seville to this day has not been able to correct this popular belief in the mythical origins of Seville to such an extent that it is celebrated in a popular verse:
“Hercules edified me,
Julius Caesar fortified me,
with high walls and towers,
I was conquered for the king
of heaven by Garcí Pérez de Vargas”
So great was the admiration felt by Renaissance Seville towards its mythical founders that its statues, especially sculpted by Diego Pasquera, were placed on two granite pillars with Corinthian capitals on the recently created promenade, Alameda de Hércules, where they can still be admired. Incidentally, the two columns were removed from the ruins of a Roman temple on Carrer Marmoles, where two sister columns remain.
🏰 The beginning of the city a long time ago
According to legend, the origin of Seville dates back to the Tartessos, as a Phoenician merchant after touring the Mediterranean and venturing behind the Strait of Gibraltar (the limit of the world known until then) founded the current Cadiz and decided to climb the Guadalquivir. Founding a colony in what may now be the area of the Plaza de la Alfalfa.
Subsoil studies suggest, in part, that the origin dates back some 3000 years.
🧮 The arrival of the Romans
In 206 B.C., after defeating the Carthaginians at Ilipa Magna (Alcalá del Río), Scipio Africanus established a contingent of veteran soldiers in Italica, on the outskirts of Seville.
This Roman city is a must-see for anyone who wants to see for themselves how advanced the region surrounding the Guadalquivir River was during the Roman occupation.
Italica, birthplace of Emperors Trajan and Hadrian, reached its apogee between the 2nd and 4th centuries AD. Among its numerous public buildings, the Amphitheatre, with a capacity for 25,000 people, is the jewel in the crown of Italica.
Also of great interest are its porticoed streets that protect the inhabitants from the elements. Italica offers exceptional examples of domestic architecture such as De Exedra, Los Pájaros or Hylas, three houses with splendid mosaics.
However, most of Italy’s most important archaeological treasures are now in the city of Seville, either in the Archaeological Museum in the Parque de El Parque de María Luisa or in the mansion La Casa de la Condesa de Lebrija in Calle Cuna.
Although Hispalis (Roman Seville) was rebuilt after being looted by the Carthaginians at the end of the 3rd century BC, the name Hispalis only appeared for the first time in official Roman history in 49 BC, five years before the concession of Julius Caesar.
It is the colony state to celebrate its victory over Pompey. Such is the reality behind the myth of the founding of the city by Caesar. Even today, the streets of Seville’s city centres belie its Roman origins. What was the eastern part of Decumanus Maximus is the modern Aguilas Street, while the northern section of Cardus Maximus coincides with Alhondiga Street.
This leads us to conclude that what today is the Plaza de la Alfalfa, at the crossroads of these two streets possibly has the Imperial Forum, while the nearby Plaza del Salvador was probably the site of the Curia and the Basilica.
At the end of imperial Rome, Hispalis was the eleventh most important city in the Roman world and was even the center of Christian activity in the Iberian Peninsula, far above its rivals such as Merida and Astorga.
In 287 A.D.. two pottery girls, Justa and Rufina achieved martyrdom for their repeated refusal to worship a carved image of the god Salambó. As patron saints of Seville, they have been immortalized by the painters Murillo, whose painting is in the Museum of Fine Arts, and Goya, whose canvas hangs in the cathedral.
In 411 AD Baetis, the Roman province roughly equivalent to Andalusia and Murcia, was conquered by the Silingian Vandals and in 426 Seville was taken by the Vandal King Gonderic, who according to popular myth was killed by lightning after desecrating the Basilica that had contained the Relics of St.
Vincent since the reign of Emperor Constantine I in the previous century. The barbarian hosts left the province in 429 for Tunisia in search of new conquests and looting, only to be replaced by the Suevi who also temporarily occupied the city.
⚔ The arrival of the Visigoth
The Visigoth occupation of Seville, which coincided roughly with the reign of Emperor Justinian (527-565 A.D.) in Constantinople, had far more profound consequences than those of the Vandals and Suevi.
Originally established in what is now Galicia, the Visigoths took control of most of Hispania. It is speculated that during this period, Seville witnessed the assassination of two kings, Teudis and Teudiselus, but the event that shook the Visigoth world to its foundations was a civil war between two religious factions.
Prince Hermenegild, a recent convert to Catholicism, led and rose up against his father Leovigild, who, like most Visigoths, was an Arian Christian. After begging and taking Seville, Leovigild took his son prisoner in Cordoba. Hermenegild was exiled to Valencia where he was later murdered by order of Leovigild.
This is what the objective story tells us, but after centuries the myth persists that Hermenegild was imprisoned and murdered in a fortified tower near the Puerta de Córdoba, one of the gates of the city of Seville, in 584.
In fact, a marble plaque on the tower still remembers the passer-by. In fact, a marble plaque on the tower still reminds the passerby. -by the myth, whose inscription in English would read: “Worship all who pass through this place because they were considered by the blood of Hermenegild, the king.
With the death of Leovigild, his other son, Recared, converted to Catholicism in 589, brought religious and political unity to the Visigoths. Culturally, Seville enjoyed the intellectual light of Leander (Leander) and Isidore (Isidore), annoyed, bishops and finally saints. Isidore’s “Etymologies” were at the time considered the repository of all knowledge of Antiquity and Isidore himself was universally celebrated as “Pride of Spain and Doctor of Wisdom applauded by all nations”.
In fact, one of Seville’s oldest parish churches, which has recently been restored, is dedicated to Isidore, while both he and Leander were the subjects of several Murillo surveys.
In the city there is hardly any trace of this period.
👳 The arrival of the Moorish
During its five hundred years of Moorish occupation, Seville was of great importance, both culturally and politically.
In 712 after the siege and conquest of the city (by Musa b. Nusayr in 712) the Roman name Hispalis was delete, Teh new name in Arabic was Isbilya.
In the first two centuries, during the eighth and ninth centuries, people from different Arab nations settled in Seville to live.
One of the numerous contingents that settled in Seville were the Yemenis responsible for many uprisings and riots during the emirate of Abs Al Rahman I (756-788), in addition to their continued struggle against the Ommiad dynasty in Cordoba, which had been the capital of Al-Andalus since 716.
The tranquillity enjoyed in Al-Andalus during the emirates of Hassim I (788-796) and Al Hakam I (796-822) was destroyed after the Norman invasion of 844 during the reign of Abd-Al-Rahman II (822-852). Isbilya was saved by troops from Cordoba after a year and a half of looting and plundering throughout the region.
Fifteen years before the arrival of the Normans, Ibn Adabbas had completed the main mosque of Isbilya on a site now occupied by the baroque parish church of Divino Salvador. Visitors to this church can still admire the sahn of the mosque or orangerie and the base of its minaret.
The area around the mosque with its narrow, winding streets was dedicated to the silk trade. Although the silk merchants and their facilities are already gone, the buildings that have taken their place follow their winding street plan, as can be seen in the streets between Bread Square, Alfalfa Square and Encarnation Square.
In the 10th century, peace and prosperity reigned once again thanks to the caliph Abd-Al Rahman III. With the fall of the Caliphate of Cordoba in 1035, Al-Andalus disappeared as a unified territory and smaller independent kingdoms emerged in its place. One of these kingdoms was Seville.
During the Abbadid dynasty, Isbilya not only achieved its greatest territorial extension, from the Algarve in the west to present-day Murcia in the east, but also gained supremacy over the other kingdoms, including Cordoba.
The reigns of Al-Mutadid (1042-1068) and his son Al-Mutamid (1068-1091) were culminating points in the history of Isbilya, especially that of Al-Mutamid, the poet king who ended his days languishing in exile in Agmat with his memories of the perfection of Isbilya and the beauty of his wife, Rumaykiya.
When visiting the Alcazar, we can easily imagine its literary court gathered in one of the courtyards or halls of Al-Muwarak, renamed The Alcazar of Blessing and remodeled by Peter I of Castile in the fourteenth century.
During this period, military and tax pressure effectively mortgaged Seville in the kingdom of Castilla y León (Castilla).
In an attempt to verify the expansionist policy of Alfonso VI of Castile, the Moorish kings of Badajoz, Granada and Seville agreed to seek external aid. Aid, in the form of the Almoravid Berbers of North Africa. Finally, the Almoravid scimitar turned against its masters and the kingdom of Seville fell to the Almoravids in 1091.
After 1091, Seville became indispensable to its new masters as a bridgehead and base for troops arriving from the Maghreb.
Excavations have recently confirmed that the last walls to be built around Seville were built by the Almoravids. The longest section of the existing wall is between the arch of the Basilica of La Macarena and the Puerta de Córdoba, guarded by eight towers.
The social and religious intolerance of the Almoravids soon became a source of discontent among the population, who began to organize themselves against their conquerors.
This, together with the threat posed by the Castilian king, Alfonso VII, paved the way for the arrival of the Almohads in Cadiz in 1145.
During this period, Seville became the administrative capital of Al-Andalus because of the Almohads.
The Almohads also returned to the region a period of prosperity and relative peace, although peace was frequently disturbed by the incursions of the Castilians or by the outbreak of the Guadalquivir.
However, these distractions did not discourage the Almohads from an ambitious construction programme, including the construction of the Buhaira palace outside the city walls and a pontoon bridge over the Guadalquivir linking the village of Triana with the city.
The most ambitious project began in 1172, when work began on a new central mosque, a site that now occupies the cathedral’s imposing pile.
Although the mosque no longer exists, one can get an idea of its grandeur from the contemplation of its spacious orangerie and the body of its minaret with decorative bricks. When this tower was built it was topped with four gilded spheres of decreasing size.
However, since 1568, the tower has been crowned by a large bell tower with a bronze weather vane, El Giraldillo, which by extension, has lent its name to the La Giralda tower, one of the most famous belfries in Christendom.
From 1220 onwards, Almohad power was in irreversible decline. Repairs to the city walls and the construction of La Torre del Oro did not prevent the triumphal entry of Ferdinand III into the city on 22 December 1248 after a 15-month siege of the city and its final capitulation in November. 23, 1248.
⛪ The sevilla mediaeval period
After the reconquest of Seville, the city became the capital of a great kingdom with a stable civil and ecclesiastical administration.
Ferdinand III remained in the city until his death in 1252 and was buried in the royal chapel at the feet of Our Lady of the Kings, which he venerated with such fervor in life. His incorrupt remains are now in the splendid silver chest made by the goldsmith Laureano de Pina to celebrate Ferdinand’s canonization in 1671.
The epitaph, written in Spanish, Latin, Arabic and Hebrew, testifies to the veneration that the Sevillians felt for their king and saint, and states that Ferdinand was “… the most loyal, sincere, the most frank, the most hard-working, the most handsome, the most mature and distinguished, the most persistent and humble who feared God the most, who served him most faithfully, who confused and destroyed his enemies and who raised and honoured all those who were loyal, who conquered Seville, capital of Spain… “.
Fernando’s son and successor, Alfonso X the Wise, always had a certain affection for Seville that the inhabitants returned many times, especially in the last years of his reign.
The NO8DO symbol on the city’s coat of arms is a heraldic play on words in Spanish, where the 8 represents a hank of wool. Therefore, the device says: NOmadejaDO, more or less Spanish for “you have never left me” (it has not left me). The heraldic device par excellence of Seville is, therefore, testimony to the high esteem of Alfonso X for the loyalty of his subjects Seville.
Alfonso X was also the author of the poems “Las cantigas de Santa María” and “Las Siete Partidas”, as well as commissioning the construction of a Gothic church in Triana dedicated to Santa Ana, mother of the Virgin Mary he believed had interceded to cure him of an eye problem.
One of the most notorious figures in the history and medieval legend of Seville is King Peter who was called some “The Avenger” and others “The Cruel”.
Although he never loved his wife, Doña Blanca de Borbón, Pedro ordered the assassination of Prince Don Fadrique, Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, for committing adultery with her. The writing is supposed to have taken place in the Court of Justice of the Royal Alcazars.
This walled palace originally built by the Abbadids is the oldest palace of the Castilian kings and reflects the personality of Peter I.
Peter built new additions and remodeled other parts with exuberant Mudejar decoration; an inscription on the main door of the Patio de Montería states that “THE MOST PUBLIC KING, THE MOST PUBLIC, THE MOST POWERFUL, THE MOST POWERFUL, THE PEDRO I, THE KING, BY THE GRACE OF GOD, CASTILLE AND LION ASKED FOR THESE GARDENS, PALACES AND DOORS TO BE BUILT, WHICH WAS MADE IN THE YEAR OF OUR FIFTY-FIFTH AND TWO “(1364).
The esteem in which the Sevillians arrested Peter is exemplified by naming some rainwater tanks in the Patio del Crucero Baños de doña María de Padilla (baths of Doña María de Padilla).
Pedro I’s unrequited and inopportune passion for Doña María Fernández Coronel, an illustrious noblewoman, is well known in Seville’s popular history.
After the imprisonment and death of her husband, Don Juan de la Cerda, by order of Pedro I, Doña María suffered in various ways at the hands of the monarch, suffering that the popular myth has enriched and embellished her greatest virtue.
Finally, to finally get rid of Pedro’s unwanted advances, Doña María deliberately threw boiling oil on his face, producing a horrible disfigurement. These events occurred in the kitchens of the convent of Santa Claro.
The legend of “La Cabeza del Rey Don Pedro” (The Head of King Pedro) has been treated many times by poets and novelists, and today gives its name to a street in the Alfalfa district of the city. In this street there is a niche with the bust of Pedro by sculptor Marcos Cabrera, sculpted in 1599 that replaced a coarser terracotta head.
Popular belief says that the terracotta head representing the king was placed there by Peter I himself. Legend has it that an old woman caught Peter committing an atrocious act in the place below the niche. To calm the popular tumult, the king promised that the head of the culprit would be placed at the scene of the crime, and so it was, even if it is a clay model!
The great earthquake of 1356 occurred during Peter’s reign. This changed the architectural on the city of Seville, the reconstruction was inspired by parish churches such as San Miguel, Omnium Sanctorum, Santa Marina and San Román.
The years following the reconquest of Seville saw a large influx of Jewish immigrants who made the city their home and their colony became the second largest in Spain after Toledo.
In 1391, the Jewish community was the object of a violent attack that resulted in numerous deaths and looting as a direct result of Ferrán Martínez, archdeacon of the inflammatory preaching of Ecija. What was the Jewish Quarter of Seville, formerly enclosed by a palisade, is today the Barrio de Santa Cruz and the Barrio de San Bartolomé.
In 1401, the Chapter House of Seville reached a decision with far-reaching consequences for the religious history of Seville: nothing less than the construction of a new Cathedral which, as one of the prebendaries declared, would be so large that “when it is over, those you see will drive us crazy”. To a large extent, he saw his wish fulfilled since the Cathedral of Santa Maria de la Sede is the largest Gothic church in the world and occupies the third place in all of Christianity after St. Peter of Rome and St. Paul in London.
Such an enormous undertaking attracted countless first-class artists, bricklayers, bricklayers, carpenters, painters, goldsmiths, blacksmiths, sculptors, woodcarvers, glaziers, embroiderers, ceramists, etc. Consecrated in 1507, the Cathedral, with its multiple additions in Renaissance or Mannerist styles. It is an enormous multifunctional building.
In addition to being a sacred temple, it is a first class museum, an immense pantheon and a repository of libraries and archives of inestimable value. Since the 16th century, the Seises, a group of dancers, perform their evolutions three times a year in front of the Blessed Sacrament of the Main Chapel in Shrovetide, in Corpus Christi and on the day of the Immaculate Conception.
The fifteenth century was a time of great political tension, and Seville was no exception, with the continuing struggle between the noble houses of Guzmán and Ponce de León as they attempted to gain control of the local government.
Also during this period, Seville was the Court in everything but the name of the Catholic Monarchs between July 1477 and December 1478. Three years later, the city became the first seat of the Holy Office, better known as the Inquisition. The war against the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada, which was the most important war waged in Spain during that century, had the military and economic support of the Sevillian population, thus contributing to the final unification of Spain in the remarkable year 1492.
🎨 The arrival of the Renaissance and subsequent artistic periods
1492 is an important year in the history of Spain; it marked not only the final expulsion of the Moors and the unification of Spain under a single crown, but also the discovery of America. In addition, it is a date that coincides approximately with the end of the Middle Ages.
In Seville, 1492 marked the beginning of two centuries during which the city would become the gateway to the New World. Seville became a melting pot of European and American cultures. For those launching into the New World, the image of Seville will remain indelibly fixed in your mind as the last vision of an Old World city.
The boom generated by trade with America transformed Seville into the Mecca of European trade. The most diverse professions, such as actors, bankers, famous artists and renowned sailors, missionaries whose only desire was to convert and save souls and unscrupulous adventurers, all converged in the city. In these two golden centuries, Seville became the main city of Spain and one of the ten largest European cities.
Christopher Columbus, admiral of the oceanic seas (the Atlantic) visited Seville in 1492, 1493 and 1501.
Centuries later, in 1899 his remains were brought to Seville from Havana and are now in the Mausoleum by Arturo Melida on the Cathedral cruise.
Hernando Colón, son of the great navigator, bequeathed his collection of thousands of illuminated and incunabular manuscripts and codices to the Cathedral. These documents make up the bulk of the Columbus Library inside the Cathedral.
👉 The baroque
By this time, the main brotherhoods had already been formed. The fame of some of the objects of their devotion has passed beyond the borders of Seville and even Spain.
Two examples of the above are Jesus of the Great Power and La Macarena. The image of Jesus was sculpted by Juan de Mesa in 1620 and the latter by a member of the Pedro Roldán School in the second half of the 17th century, and is found in the city’s two minor basilicas.
1681 saw the birth of the University of the Seminary of San Telmo, whose duty, according to Charles III, was “… to house, educate and educate orphaned and abandoned children for service in the navy and fleets of the Indies”.
Since then, this baroque palace, emblematic of the Sevillian civil architecture of the time, has undergone many changes in its use. Among other things, it was the residence of the Dukes of Montpensier in the 19th century.
For most of this century, it was the Provincial Seminary and, finally, since 1989 it has been the seat of the Presidency of the Junta de Andalucía or regional government.
👉 The French in Seville
The French invasion of Seville took place on 1 February 1810 in the context of the French invasion of Spain and the War of Spanish Independence.
This would last until 27 August 1812, when it was won by the Spaniards with British help in the Battle of the Bridge of Triana.
The artistic despoilment suffered by the city was remarkable. Some of the paintings they took are still in their museums.
👉 The Industrial Revolution in Seville
Never arrived as in other European cities, has always lived more from agriculture, although it operated several huge factories, highlighting two above all: the Royal Tobacco Factory and the Royal Artillery Factory.
However, the city was populated by small workshops, factories of the nineteenth and twentieth century, heirs of the guild craft, without a solid financial system to drive them.
🚀 The Seville of the 21st century
Seville has been transformed into a modern city, very adapted to tourists and travellers who arrive, which is why it has become one of the most important tourist cities in the world.
Thanks to the richness of its history and to the preservation of its traditions, you can get to know a modern city, with high quality food and drinks, with beautiful spaces for walking, and with all the necessary transport links.