Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it, or otherwise just not know as many neat factoids about the areas they travel while visiting around the world as they perhaps should. Whether it be doom or ignorance, I’m here to help cure the ailment. Today we touch upon Seville, Spain and its vibrant history as it has been passed down the empires of history.
Seville, Spain is an interesting city from a historical standpoint. It was founded approximately 2,200 years ago by the romans, who called it Hispalis. According to mythos Hercules himself founded the city, sailing through the Strait of Gibraltar (An article about Gibraltar can be found here) and founding the trading posts at Cadiz and Seville. If one looks closely you can still see the remnants of Rome in some sections of the city, such as the columns of La Alameda de Hercules as seen above, or the last vestiges of the aqueducts which are now crumbling in many places. In 712 the Moors, Muslims from the North of Africa, took the city and renamed it Ishbiliya. It was the capital city for the kings of the Almoravid dynasty and the Umayyad Caliphate from the 8th to the 13th centuries.
It was not until 1247 that the Christian King Ferdinand III of Castile turned his eyes to the city, capturing it the next year. This led to much growth in the city’s public sector which included a large amount of churches being built, including the Seville Cathedral (pictured above) which is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world! The city also has the distinction of being the last seat of the infamous Spanish Inquisition, which was held in the Castle of St. George.
After Christopher Columbus’ expedition to the so called New World netted Spain new avenues of resources, Seville saw a massive boom due to the fact that it had a monopoly with the Crown when it came to trading from the West Indies. All goods from the new world had to pass through Seville before being distributed to the rest of Spain. Due to this a ‘golden age of development’ began in Seville. Merchants from all over Europe came to buy the precious trade goods from North America. During this time the city’s population grew to over a million, and Seville knew untold wealth. All good things must come to an end though, and in the late 16th century its previous monopoly was at last broken when the port of Cadiz was also authorized as a port of trade. To make matters far worse the Great Plague of Seville in 1649 wiped out half of Seville’s population, devastating the city.
In the 18th century Charles III of Spain promoted Seville’s industries. The Royal Tobacco Factory, pictured above, began construction in 1728 with several additions to it over the next 30 years. At the time of its completion it was the second largest building in Spain, only surpassed by the royal resident El Escorial. In more recent times it has been the seat of the rectorate of the University of Seville. In the 20th century Seville fell very quickly at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, due to the fact that a general carried out a coup within the city and captured the city center without much resistance.
Seville has a very rich history, and it still shows in the city today. It has a vibrant old town where its Roman and Moorish past can be easily seen, and its grand constructs of the Christian faith are a reminder of how closely tied to the Catholic church the city has been throughout the years. Seville is a beautiful city that has transitioned to the modern age about as well as any European city, and we’re super excited to be stopping there as part of our Drag Stars at Sea: Europe Allstars! For all of the details on this exciting trip, go here.