History of Seville

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Many poets and writers have used the legend of the origin of Seville in their works. Two such are the brothers Joaquín and Serafín Alvarez Quintero in their dramatic poem Historia de Sevilla (History of Seville) that begins:
'Mr Hercules,/ bored on the planet, / was searching for a pretty place / to set up a tavern. / As he was passing a place / where today the Alameda stands, / (and it is because of what happened there that since then / it has the name it has), / he stopped in amazement; / breathing hard, / he looked at the ground, / then at the sky, / and said, 'Brother, what a land'.

Contrary to the mythological version, scientific history verifies 7,000 years of the dolmens (prehistoric sepulchral chamber) at Aljarafe and El Gandúl, in the municipal district of Alcalá de Guadaira, although the ones at dólmenes de Valencina de la Concepción are more well known.

Archaeological remains also exist in the villages of the province, like at Carmona where the Museo de la Necrópolis (The Necropolis Museum) is located; Osuna, or the region of Estepa, has the oldest Iberian remains from southern Europe. You can view some of these remains in the Museo Arqueológico Municipal (Municipal Archaeology Museum) in Marchena.

The Phoenicians

In the year 800 BC, Phoenician merchants settled in the valley of the Guadalquivir River, in a city that may have been Seville: the city's name, Tartessus, was given to the river and a kingdom. Biblical quotations and Greek historians confirm the existence of treasures such as that of El Carambolo. The Tartessians must have lived on the cornice of the Aljarafe, and their descendants established a city called Hispalis ' present-day Seville. In 206 BC the Second Punic War began, and Scipio reached these lands, defeated Asdrúbal and established the city of Itálica, the birthplace of the Roman emperors Hadrian and Trajan.

The Romans

Italica fell in favour of Hispalis (Roman Seville). The city experienced a period of expansion and growth. A walled acropolis with several access doors was built, though nowadays all that remain are the Arco de la Macarena (Macarena Arch) and the Postigo del Aceite (Oil Gate).

Hispalis later moved between Cesar and Pompeyo who engaged in the battle of Munda in 43 BC (between Osuna and Estepa) in which Osuna emerged victor. After this, Hispalis became a Roman colony with the right of Roman citizenship. Vestiges of Roman civilisation remain in the city's Museo Arqueológico (Archaeological Museum).

Hispalis was the true political, economic and administrative centre of the southern Iberian Peninsula. In the 4th century Christianity was legalised, and in the 5th and 6th centuries the Suevo and Visigothic invasions occurred.

Muslim Seville

The arrival of the Muslims in 711 caused a radical transformation in the whole Peninsula, though especially in the south which they inhabited longest. Isbilia (the Arabic name for Seville) blossomed with its Arabic-Andalusian culture mix. Jews, Christians, Mozarabs (Christians living under Arab rule) and various Arab ethnic groups lived together in harmony. Isbilia was an important city, although Cordoba's status as capital of Andalusia rankled her citizens and caused several uprisings against Cordoba. Seville flourished culturally under the rule of al-Mutadid (11th century). In 1085 al-Mutadid was forced to call on the aid of the Almoravids and was subsequently exiled. Once again Seville bloomed culturally under the Almoravids and their successors the Almohads. The 12th century saw a flourishing economy, population growth, and extensive building projects. The Giralda, the minaret of the mosque, is a splendid example.

The Reconquest

In 1248, Ferdinand III reconquered Isbilia and expelled the Muslims, and the city was renamed Seville. It was repopulated by Christians, and a significant Jewish quarter emerged. The Alcázar became the residence of the Christian monarchs. Seville blossomed, especially under Alfonso X the Wise, son of Ferdinand III, and Pedro I 'The Cruel'.

You can see the Arabic influence in the religious buildings of the era, for example in churches such as
Santa Marina, (the) Iglesia de San Marcos o la torre de la iglesia de (or the tower of the church of) Iglesia de Santa Catalina.

Gate to America

In the 15th century under the Catholic monarchs Seville became great, despite events such as the establishment of the Inquisition. The city became the gateway to the New World with its discovery by Christopher Columbus.

18th and 19th centuries

Seville's brilliance declined in the 18th century, though she retained memories of having been the most important city in Spain. The Napoleonic invasion occurred in the 19th century (1808-1812), and part of Seville's artistic wealth was transported to France. After the departure of the French, Seville became immersed in the ups and downs of political life that were a feature of Spain for most of the century. At the end of the century of Romanticism, the renowned Spanish Romantic poet Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer emerged. He is commemorated in a beautiful monument in the Parque de María Luisa.

Republic and War

The Iberoamerican Exposition of 1929 in Seville was the first significant event in the 20th century that began a new renaissance. Witness to this event are beautiful monuments such as Plaza de España.

Later came the brief period of the Second Republic (the first was in the 1870s), and the Franco regime. Queipo de Llano took La Plaza de Sevilla the day after the uprising of 18 July 1936, and the city scarcely felt the effects of the war ' unlike many other parts of Spain, such as Barcelona and Madrid. The nation-wide famine of the 1940s hit the country hard. In the 1950s and 1960s, in the middle of the dictatorship, the country began to recover somewhat.


With the arrival of democracy at the end of the 1970s, and the establishment of the Statute of Autonomies, Seville became the provincial capital and headquarters of its principal autonomous bodies. It retains the status of one of the most important capitals of Spain, and among its most beautiful. The staging of the International Exposition of 1992 in Seville endowed the city with an impressive infrastructure, including communications, accommodation and restaurants, ensuring many prospects for progress into the 21st century. The Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (Museum of Contemporary Art) now administers some of the Expo pavilions.