Seville City - History

Remarkable Roman Mosacis in Italica
Roman Mosaic in Italica, near Seville.

history of seville

Seville has a long, rich and fascinating history. The Romans governed the whole of Spain for more than six centuries; their first colony, Italica, is close to the city, and can still be visited today.



The Romans changed the face of the countryside and towns, building aqueducts and long straight roads to link the major towns. Today some of the best preserved artifacts from this period can be found at Seville's magnificent Archaeological Museum.

But it was the Moslem civilization that had the most lasting impact on the city. Their reign in Seville lasted for more than 500 years (711 -1248), until King Fernando III reconquered the city - you can see his statue in Plaza Nueva.

Some of the city's most magnificent buildings stand as a legacy to this era, including the Torre del Oro, Torre de Plata, Giralda, Patio de los Naranjos, the area of Triana, the Macarena Walls and the oldest part of the Alcazar. Later mudejar craftsmen, muslims working for Christian kings, used their skills to create beautiful Moorish-style buildings, such as the Palacio Pedro I, part of Seville's Reales Alcazares. Several Mudejar churches date from this period, including the Iglesia de San Marcos, the Iglesia de Santa Catalina and the Iglesia de San Pedro.

A superb example of non-religious mudejar architecture is the Casa de Pilatos, one of the most beautiful buildings you can visit in Seville. The remaining sections of city walls and gates offer an insight into the history and development of the city over the ages.

After the fall of Granada to the Christians in 1492, the city entered an era of expansion and prosperity, as the most important port in Spain. The conquest of the New World made Seville one of the most affluent cities in Europe: the 16th century is known as Seville's Golden Age, when the cathedral was built, and painters such as Murillo, Zurbaran and Velzquez were producing their finest works. However in the 17th century, much of the monarchy's wealth was squandered on military campaigns by the Hapsburg kings.

By the 18th century, Spain had fallen into economic decline. The War of Spanish Succession (1701-1713) saw Bourbons replace Hapsburgs on the Spanish throne. Under the Treaty of Utrecht, Gibraltar was handed over to the British.

The following century saw ties with France drag Spain into the Napoleonic Wars. Following the Battle of Trafalgar, the Spanish King, Carlos IV, abdicated and Napoleon Bonaparte placed his brother, Joseph on the Spanish throne. The Peninsula War ensued (1803-1813) and, with British help, the French were driven out of Spain. After the Bourbon restoration, Spain, weakened by further strife, began to lose her colonies.

Additionally, throughout the 19th century, and then the early 20th century, poverty led to political conflict and ultimately to Civil War (1936-1939).

Many of the more recent historic buildings date from the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition (or Expo), including the vast Plaza de España lined with tiled panels depicting the Spanish provinces, as well as a canal and bridges, and the park within which the plaza is located  Parque Maria Luisa.

In 1992 a second Expo took place in Seville, commemorating the 500th anniversary of Columbus' historic voyage. Using the latest technology, this exhibition took place on previously vacant land north of Triana, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world.

Italica  Torre del Oro
The Roman ruins and remarkable mosaics of Italica are located less than 9 kilometres to the north of the city.
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The Torre del Oro (Golden Tower), is a remnant of the Moorish fortified walls.
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Torre de Plata Triana
A recently restored octagonal tower which was joined by the city walls.
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Next to Santa Cruz, this is the most atmospheric area of Seville.
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Seville Expo 92 Seville Expo 29
The Expo took place on the land surrounding the ruined Cartuja monastery in April 1992.
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The Expo took place in and around Maria Luisa Park in 1929.
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Macarena Walls
These walls date from 1135, the time of the Almoravides.
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