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Sevilla Travel Guide

Sevilla's History

  • Classical
  • Islamic
  • Medieval
  • Reinassance
  • Baroque
  • 18 th.

Seville's history is intimately linked to that of the river Guadalquivir because from its most remote past the city has been both a river port and bridge between the Atlantic Ocean and the hinterland of Andalusia, nor should we forget that Seville has always been the crossroads between the North- East and West of the Iberian Peninsula. Even as far back as the beginnings of the first milenium B.C. the area of Seville was destined to become the great market place of the Guadalquivir Valley. The original Seville was born where the river became no longer navigable for seagoing ships. Archaeological excavations undertaken in 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 Seville's limits to that most popular of mythical heroes, Hercules.He marked with 6 columns the spot where Julius Caesar would later found the city of Seville. The illustrious Roman general called the new city Iulia Romula Hispalis: Iulia after himself, Romula in honour of Rome and Hispalis, according to Saint Isidore in his Etymologies, because many of the buildings had wooden piles driven into the ground as foundations. Subsequent historical researches into the founding of Seville have to this day been unable to correct this popular belief in Seville´s mythical origins to such an extent that it is celebrated in a popular verse:

"Raised by Hercules,
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 her mythical founders that their statues, specially sculpted by Diego Pasquera, were placed on two granite pillars with Corinthian capitals in the newly created promenade, Alameda de Hércules, where they can still be admired. Incidentally, the two columns were removed from the ruins of a Roman temple in calle Mármoles where two sister columns remain.

In 206 B.C., after defeating the Carthaginians in Ilipa Magna (Alcalá del Río), Scipio Africanus settled a contingent of veteran soldiers in Itálica just outside Seville. This Roman city is a must for anybody who wants to see for themselves how highly advanced the region surrounding the river Guadalquivir was during the Roman occupation. Itálica, birthplace of the Emperors Trajan and Hadrian, reached its apogée between the second and fourth century A.D. Among its many public buildings the Amphitheatre, with a seating capacity of 25,000, is the jewel in Itálica's crown. Also of great interest are its porticoed streets which protected the inhabitants from the elements. Itálica offers exceptional examples of domestic architecture such as De Exedra, Los Pájaros or Hylas, three houses which boast splendid mosaics. However, the majority of Italica's most important archaeological treasures are now in the city of Seville, either in the Archaeological Museum in El Parque de María Luisa Park or in La Casa de la Condesa de Lebrija mansion in calle Cuna.

Although Hispalis (Roman Seville) was being rebuilt after its being pillaged by the Carthaginians at the end of the third century B.C., the name of Hispalis only appeared for the first time in the official Roman history in 49 B.C., five years before Julius Caesar granted it the status of colony to celebrate his victory over Pompey. Such is the reality behind the myth of Caesar´s founding the city. Even today the outlay of Seville city centres streets belie their Roman origins. What was the Eastern part of Decumanus Maximus is modern-day Calle Aguilas, while the Northern section of Cardus Maximus coincides with Calle Alhondiga. This leads us to conclude that what is today La Plaza del Alfalfa, at the junction of these two streets may possibly have the Imperial Forum while ther nearby Plaza del Salvador was probably the site of the Curia and Basilica.

By the end of Imperial Rome, Hispalis was the eleventh most important city in the Roman world and was even the centre of Christian activity in the Iberian Peninsula, far above its rivals such as Mérida and Astorga. In 287 A.D.. two potter girls, Justa and Rufina achieved martyrdom for their repeated refusal to adore a graven image of the god Salambó. As joint patron saints of Seville, they have been immortalised by the painters Murillo, whose painting is in the Fine Arts Museum, and Goya, whose canvas hangs in the cathedral.

n 411 A.D. 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 a thunderbolt after profaning the Basilica which 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 plunder, only to be replaced by the Suevi who also temporarily occupied the city.

The Visigoth occupation of Seville, which roughly coincided with the reign of Emperor Justinian (527-565 A.D.) in Constantinople, had much more far-reaching consequences than those of the Vandals and Suevi. Having originally settled in what is now Galicia, the Visigoths took control of most of Hispania. It is speculated that during this period, Seville was witness to the murder of two kings, Teudis and Teudiselus, but the event which shook the Visigoth world to its foundations was a civil war between two religious factions. Prince Hermenegild, a recent convert to Catholicism, led and uprising against his father Leovigild who, like most Visigoths, was an Arian Christian. After beseiging and taking Seville, Leovigild took his son prisoner in Córdoba. Hermenegild was banished to Valencia where he was later murdered by order of Leovigild.

The above is what factual history tells us, yet after centuries the myth persists that Hermenegild was imprisoned and murdered in a fortified tower near Puerta de Córdoba, one of Seville's city gates, in 584. Indeed a marble plaque on the tower still reminds the passer-by of the myth, the inscription of which in English would be thus: "Venerate all ye who pass this place for it was considerated by the blood of Hermenegild, 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 basked in the intellectual light of Leander (Leandro) and Isidore (Isidoro), bothers, bishops and ultimately saints. Isidore's "Etymologies" was in its time regarded as the repositary of all the 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 wich has recently been restored is dedicated to Isidore, while both he and Leander were subjects for several canvasses by Murillo.

During its five hundred years of occupation by the Moors, Seville was of prime importance, both culturally and politically. In 712 following the siege and conquest of the city (by Musa b. Nusayr in 712) its Roman name, Hispalis, was changed to the Arabic Isbilya. During the eigth and ninth centuries people of many different Arab nations settled in Seville. One of the mos numerous contingents to settle in Seville were the Yemenis who were responsible of many uprisings and disturbances during Abs Al Rahman I's emirate (756-788), besides their continuous struggle against the Ommiad dynasty in Córdoba which had been capital of Al-Andalus since 716.

The tranquility enjoyed in Al-Andalus during the emirates of Hassim I (788-796) and Al Hakam I (796-822) was shattered following the Norman invasion of 844 during the reign of Abd-Al-Rahman II (822-852). Isbilya was saved by troops from Córdoba after one and a half years of sacking and pillaging throughout the whole region. Fifteen years before the arrival of the Normans, Ibn Adabbas had completed Isbilya's principal mosque on a site now occupied by the Baroque parish church of Divino Salvador. Visitors to this church can still admire the mosque's sahn, or orangerie and the base of its minaret. The area around the mosque with its narrow winding streets was dedicated to silk trading. Although the silk traders and their premises are long gone, the buildings which have taken their place, follow their sinous street plan as can be seen in the streets between la Plaza del Pan, la Plaza del Alfalfa and La Plaza de la Encarnación.

In the tenth century, peace and prosperity reigned once more thanks to Caliph Abd-Al Rahman III. With the fall of the Caliphate of Córdoba in 1035, Al-Andalus as a unified territory disappeared and smaller independent kingdoms arose in its place. One such kingdom was that of Seville. During the Abbadid dinasty, not only did Isbilya achieve its greatest territorial extension, from the Algarve in the West, to modern-day Murcia in the East, but it also gained supremacy over the other kingdoms, including Córdoba.

The reigns of Al-Mutadid (1042-1068) and his son Al-Mutamid (1068-1091) were high points in the history of Isbilya, above all that of Al-Mutamid, the poet king who finished his days languishing in exile in Agmat with his memories of the perfection of Isbilya and the beauty of his wife, Rumaykiya. Visiting the Alcazar, we can easily imagine his literary court gathered in one of the patios or salons of Al-Muwarak, renamed El Alcázar de la Bendición and remodelled by Pedro I of Castille in the fourteenth century.

During this period, military and tributary pressure effectively mortgaged Seville to the kingdom of Castilla y León (Castile).In an attempt to check the expansionist policy of Alfonso VI of Castile, the Moorish kings of Badajoz, Granada and Seville agreed to ask for outside help, in the shape of the Almoravid Berbers from the North of Africa. Finally the Almoravid scimitar turned against its masters and the kingdom of Seville fell to them Almoravids in 1091.

Subsequent to 1091, Seville became indispensible 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 constructed by the Almoravids. The longest section of wall extant is between the arch of the Basilica of La Macarena and la Puerta de Córdoba, guarded by eight towers. The social and religious intolerance of the Almoravids soon became a source of discontent among the populace, who began to organise themselves against their conquerors. This, coupled with the threat posed by the Castilian king, Alfonso VII, paved the way for the arrival of the Almohads in Cádiz in 1145.

During this period, Seville was made administrative capital of Al-Andalus by the Almohads. The Almohads also restored to the region a period of prosperity and relative peace, although the peace was frequently disturbed by the incursions of the Castilians or by the Guadalquivir bursting its banks.

These distractions did not however discourage the Almohads from an ambitious building programme, including the construction of La Buhaira palace outside the city walls and of a pontoon bridge across the Guadalquivir linking the hamlet of Triana to the city.

The most ambitious project started in 1172 when work began on a new central mosque, a site now occupied by the imposing pile of the cathedral. Although the mosque is no more, an idea of its grandeur can be had from the contemplation of its spacious orangerie and the body of its minaret with decorative brickwork. When built this tower was topped with four golden spheres of decreasing size. Since 1568 however, the tower has been crowned by an airy belfry with a bronze weather vane, El Giraldillo, which by extension, has lent its name to the tower La Giralda, one of the most famous belltowers of Christendom.

From 1220 onwards, Almohad power was in irreversible decline. Repairs to the city walls and the construction of La Torre del Oro (The Golden Tower) did not impede the triumphant entry of Fernando III into the city on December 22nd, 1248 after a 15-month siege of the city and its final capitulation on November 23rd, 1248.

After the reconquest of Seville, the city became capital of a large kingdom with a stable civil and ecclesiastical administration. Fernando III stayed in the city until his death in 1252 and was buried in the royal Chapel at the feet of Our Lady of Kings which he venerated with such fervour in life. His incorrupt remains are now in the splendid silver casket made by silversmith Laureano de Pina to celebrate Fernando's canonisation in 1671. The epitaph, written in Spanish, Latin, Arabic and Hebrew testifies the veneration that the Sevillians felt for their king and saint, and affirms that Fernando was "...the most loyal, truthful, the frankest, most hardworking, most handsome, most mature and distinguished, most persistent and humble who most feared God, who served him most faithfully, who confounded 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 which the inhabitants returned manyfold, especially in the final years of his reign. The NO8DO symbol on the city's coat of arms is an heraldic pun in Spanish, with the 8 representing a skein (madeja) of wool. Thus the device reads: NOmadejaDO, more or less Spanish for "you've never abandoned me" (no me ha dejado). Seville's heraldic device par excellence is therefore testimony of Alfonso X´s great esteem of his Sevillian subjects' loyalty. Alfonso X was also author of the poems of "Las cantigas de Santa María" and "Las Siete Partidas" besides commissioning the construction of a Gothic church in Triana dedicated to Santa Ana, mother of the Virgin Mary who he believed had interceded to cure him of an ocular problem.

One of the most notorious figures of Seville's mediaeval history and legend is King Pedro I called by some "The Avenger" and by others "The cruel". Even though he never loved his wife, Doña Blanca de Borbón, Pedro ordered the murder of Prince Don Fadrique, Grand master of the Order of Santiago for committing adultery with her. It is assumed that the deed was carried out in La Sala de Justicia (Law Court) in the Reales Alcázares.

This walled palace originally built by the Abbadids is the oldest palace of the Castilian kings and it reflects Pedro I's personality. Pedro built new additions and remodelled other parts with exhuberant Mudejar décor; an inscription on the main door of the Patio de Montería declares that "THE HIGHEST, NOBLEST, MOST POWERFUL ALL-CONQUERING KING, PEDRO I, KING, BY GRACE OF GOD, OF CASTILE AND LEÓN ORDERED THESE GARDENS, PALACES AND GATES TO BE BUILT, WHICH WERE DONE IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD FOURTEEN HUNDRED AND TWO" (1364). The esteem in which the Sevillians held Pedro is exemplified by their naming some rainwater tanks in the Patio del Crucero Baños de doña María de Padilla (Doña María de Padilla's baths).

Pedro I's unrequited and unwelcome passion for Doña María Fernández Coronel, an illustrious noblewoman is well known to Sevillian popular history. After the imprisonment and death of her husband, Don Juan de la Cerda, by order of Pedro I, Doña María suffered variously at the hand of the Monarch, sufferings which popular myth have enriched and embellished to her greater virtue. Finally to rid herself definitively of Pedro's unwanted advances, Doña María deliberately threw boiling oil over her face, producing a horrible disfigurement. These events happened in the kitchens in the convent of Santa Clara. In 1374, under the reign of king Henry II of Trastamara, the Convent of Santa Inés was founded and the mummified body of Doña María dressed in the habits of a Franciscan lies in its choir. Indeed, every December 2nd it is exposed to the respectful veneration of the faithful.

The legend of "La Cabeza del Rey Don Pedro" (The Head of King Pedro) has been treated many times by poets and novelists alike and nowadays it gives name to a street in the Alfalfa quarter of the city. In this street there is a niche with sculptor Marcos Cabrera's bust of Pedro, sculpted in 1599 which replaced a cruder terracotta head. Popular belief has it that the terracotta head representing the king was placed there by Pedro I himself. Legend says that an old woman caught Pedro commiting a heinous deed at the spot below where the niche is. To calm the popular tumult, the king promised that the culprit's head would be placed at the site of the crime, and so it was, albeit a model in clay!.

The great earthquake of 1356 happened during Pedro's reign. This event had a great architectural effect upon the city of Seville, since it gave rise to the reconstruction of parish churches such as those of San Miguel, Omnium Sanctorum, Santa Marina and San Román.

The years following Seville's reconquest saw a great influx of Jewish immigrants who made the city their home and their colony grew to be the second largest in Spain after that of Toledo. In 1391 the Jewish community was the object of a violent attack resulting in numerous deaths and pillage as the direct result of Ferrán Martínez, Archdeacon of Ecija´s inflammatory preachings. What was Seville's Jewish Quarter, formerly enclosed by a pallisade, are today the Barrio de Santa Cruz Quarter and that of San Bartolomé.

In 1401 Seville's Chapter House reached a decision of 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 finished, those who see it will take us for madmen". To a great extent he saw his wish fulfilled since the Cathedral of Santa María de la Sede is the largest Gothic church in the world and in area ranks third in all Christendom after Saint Peter´s of Rome and Saint Paul´s in London. Such a huge undertaking attracted innumerable first class artists, bricklayers, stonemasons, carpenters, painters, goldsmiths, blacksmiths, sculptors, woodcarvers, glaziers, embroiderers, ceramicists, etc. Consecrated in 1507, the Cathedral, with its many additions in Renaissance or Mannerist styles is a huge multifunctional building. Besides being a Holy Temple, its is a first-class museum, immense Pantheon and a repository of libraries and archives of inestimable value. Since the sixteenth century, the Seises, a group of boy dancers, perform their evolutions three times a year in front of the Holy Sacrament of the Main Chapel at Shrovetide, on Corpus Christi and on the day of the Inmmaculate Conception.

The fifteenth century was a time of great political tensions, nor was Seville an exception, with the continuous struggle between the noble houses of Guzmán and Ponce de León as they tried to gain control of the local government.

Also during this period, Seville was the Court in all but name of the Catholic Kings 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, enjoyed the military and economic support of the Sevillian population who thus contributed to the final unification of Spain in the remarkable year of 1492.

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. Moreover, it is a date which roughly coincides with the end of the Middle Ages. In Seville, 1492 marked the beginning of two centuries during which the city would become gateway to the New World. Seville became a melting pot for European and American cultures . For those setting out for the New World, the image of Seville would remain indelibly fixed in their mind's eye as the last sight of a city of the Old World. The boom generated by trade with the Americas transformed Seville into the mecca of European commerce. The most diverse professions, such as actors, bankers, famed artists and navigators of reknown, missionaries whose only desire was to convert and save souls and unscrupulous adventurers, all converged on the city. In these two golden centuries Seville became Spain´s principal city and 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 Havanna and now lie in the Mausoleum by Arturo Melida in the transept of the Cathedral. Hernando Columbus, son of the great navigator, bequeathed his collection of thousands illuminated and incunabular manuscripts and codices to the Cathedral. These documents form the bulk of the Columbus Library housed within the Cathedral.

In 1503, la Casa de la Contratación, the governing body of all commercial, scientific and legal aspects of trade with the Americas was formed in the Alcázares. The only architectural relic of this administrative body is El Cuarto del Navegante, or Navigators´Chamber. Presided by the painting "La Virgen de los navegantes" attributed to the school of Alejo Fernández circa 1535. This splendid painting is a polyptych in five leaves not only of artistic, but also iconographical and historical interest as it features in the central part the Virgin and includes portraits of many of those involved in American trade and discovery as well as faithfully reproducing examples of contemporary naval architecture.

In 1505, Maese Rodrigo Fernández de Santaella recieved a papal bull from Julius II to found El Colegio de Santa María de Jesús, the seed of the future Seville University. This college was situated near the modern Puerta de Jerez. Only two architectural elements remain: the late Gothic portal which since 1920 has formed part of the entrance to the Convent of Santa Clara and the small, intensely Mudéjar chapel.

In 1518 Fadrique Henríquez de Ribera, the first Marquis of Tarifa started on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, a three-year journey which would have profound consequences for Seville. In Jerusalem, Fadrique took part in the procession of the Stations of the Cross, a procession which he would transplant to Seville on his return. The first Station was placed in the Marquis' own palace due to which it soon became known as "Casa de Pilatos"- Pilate's House. The last Station was fixed as the Gothic-Mudéjar Calvary outside the city walls and known as La Cruz del Campo (Cross in the Fields). The total distance of the Stations of the Cross is 997 metres approximately the same distance as that which Christ trod from the Praetorium to Calvary. Seville's early procession of the Stations of the Cross is a milestone in the evolution of the Penitential brotherhoods of the city and although this route no longer forms part of any of the brotherhoods processions during holy Week, it is still commemorated on the first Friday of Lent inside Casa de Pilatos.

In 1526 Charles V of Germany and I of Spain chose Seville as the city for his marriage with Isabel of Portugal. The ceremony took place in the Alcázar, many of whose apartments and patios were renovated in Renaissance style. The harmonious pavilion built in the spacious gardens of The Alcázar is still to be seen and set into its floor is the name of its builder, or perhaps, renovator, Master of Works Juan Hernández and the date, 1546.

This imperial wedding highlighted yet again the inadequacy of the Town Hall in the midst of the chaotic Corral de los Olmos, next to the Archbishop´s palace. Thus in 1526 it was agreed that the seat of local government should be transferred to a new purpose-built site in plaza San Francisco, which became the city centre par excellence, in which the temporal and ecclesiastical powers stood shoulder to shoulder, the other sides of the square being occupied by the Royal Prison, the Courts of Law and the Monastery of San Francisco.

In 1543 the Consulate of the Indies, in which all Spanish merchants trading with the Indies were registered, was founded. Until this time most contracts and agreements had been discussed on the Cathedral steps. This led the Chapter House to surround the Cathedral with chains, suspended between marble columns which are still extant, to impede these traders and merchants, some even on horseback and with pack animals, from entering the cathedral. The problem found its permanent solution when the Herrerian style La Casa de la Lonja was completed in 1598. Later, King Carlos III ordered that the building be adapted to house the Archives of The Indies.

In 1570 Philip II visited Seville, an occasion on which the city´s inhabitants surpassed themselves in the reception of their king. The numerous Royal Cortège made its triumphal entry throuogh Puerta de Goles city gate which was renamed Puerta Real (Royal Gate) to commemorate the ocassion. Chronicler Luis Cabrera de Córdoba recounts that Philip II "rejoiced to see the great, beautiful, rich, noble and loyal City, possessed of the best which nature, artifice and mankind could lay at the feet of a prince".

In June 1579 the much- venerated Gothic images of La Virgen de las Batallas and Nuestra Señora de los Reyes were solemnly transferred to the Capilla Real (Royal Chapel) of the Cathedral. As well as these two images, the latter being patron of the Archdiocese of Seville, many other relics and illustrious dead were also removed to their present resting place, including San Leandro, San Fernando, his sword and pennant, Doña Beatriz de Suabia, Alfonso X the Wise, Pedro I, Doña María de Padilla and the Princes Alonso, Pedro and Fadrique.

During the sixteenth century the solemn procession of Corpus Christi was consolidated as the most important in Seville's liturgical calender. This procession was characterised by its many different elements, the religious, the profane and the eye-catching street decorations. Besides this the procession itself included representations of the city's guilds. In 1587 silversmith Juan de Arfe's impressive Monstrance was carried in procession. This sterling silver Monstrance is still admired by Sevillians and visitors alike due to its size but more importantly, due to its rich decoration.

The immortal Miguel de Cervantes was well acquainted with the social and economic reality of Seville at the close of the sixteenth century.Indeed he once said of the city that it was "...shelter of the poor and refuge of the unfortunate, in whose grandeur not only the humble can be found, but also the rich may be seen. Ruffians rogues and charlatans were all to be encountered in the streets of sixteenth-century Seville, attracted by the city's extraordinary opulence. Cervantes no doubt drew from life for such characters as Rinconete and Cortadillo, perhaps created during his sojurn in the Royal Prison. Although the prison no longer exists, a bronze bust of Cervantes by Sebastián Santos Rojas may be seen in c/ Francisco Bruna, site of Cervantes' incarceration.

In spite of the riches of the previous century, seventeenth-century Seville fell prey to the grave economic crisis which afflicted Europe in general and Spain in particular. This economic decline which was further aggravated in Seville by various natural catastrophes such as floods and the plague was, fortunately, not accompanied by a corresponding artistic decline. In fact, the opposite was rather the case.

Inflamed by Counter-Reformation zeal, Seville became what can only be described as a monastic city. No more proof is needed than the fact that in 1671 the city had 45 monasteries and 28 convents. Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustines and Jesuits were the most populous orders. Thus was the social and architectural backdrop to the Holy Week processions which, since the 1604 Synod called by Cardenal Fernando Niño de Guevara, had an obligatory section culminating in the Cathedral. This was the origin of the "Carrera Oficial" or Official Route which all Brotherhoods must follow. This route begins at La Campana, follows Calle Sierpes, crosses Plaza San Francisco, goes along Avenida de la Constitución and finally enters the Cathedral.

By this time, the principal Brotherhoods had already been formed. The fame of some of the objects of their devotion has passed outside the limits of Seville and even of Spain itself. Two examples of the above are Jesús del Gran Poder and La Macarena. The image of Jesus was sculpted by Juan de Mesa in 1620 and the latter by a member of the School of Pedro Roldán in the second half of the seventeenth century and are to be found in the city´s two minor basilicas.

Doubtlessly Religion was the prime mover of seventeenth-century Seville, which became the stage upon which many religious acts were played, such as the canonisations which took place during this period. In 1622 Francisco Javier (Francis Xavier) Teresa de Jesús (Theresa of Jesus) and Felipe Neri (Philip Neri) were raised to sainthood. But the most important canonisation was that of San Fernando in 1671. This particular ceremony shone with an especial splendour, with popular festivals, religious rites and ephimeral arquitecture.

This period also sees Seville becoming known as "Land of the Virgin Mary", this fact being recognised in 1946 when the phrase "muy mariana" -"devoted to Our Lady"- was added to the city's coat of arms. This Marian fervour would explain why the city was so interested in the heated debate of the Immaculate Conception - whether the Virgin Mary's own birth was, like Christ's, by Immaculate Conception. This debate was a bone of serious contention between the Franciscans who believed in the Immaculate Conception , and the Dominicans who did not.The Sevillian populace obviously took the Franciscans' side, ridiculing the Dominicans with rhymes that quickly became familiar to all: "In spite of all their monasteries, and the Dominicans within, Mary was conceived without Original Sin". Even more popular were the verses written by Miguel Cid and set to music by Father Bernardo de Toro. In fact these songs are still sung by the Seises, one of the choruses being:"All of the people shout with one voice to our Queen: Our Lady, you were conceived without Original Sin". The theme of the Immaculate Conception was a recurrent one for the city's artists, Martínez Montañés being its prime exponent in sculpture and Murillo on canvas, both of whom created masterpieces inspired by this particular Muse.

The infamous plague of 1649 left behind a terrible devastation as can be seen in an anonymous canvas in the Franciscan Nuns' Hospital del Pozo Santo. Seville's population was halved, which was a heavy blow for the local economy. One of the plague's most illustrious victims was the sculptor Martínez Montañés who was buried in the Parish church of Santa María Magdalena. Slowly, discontent began to seep into the social fabric of Sevillian life., but especially amongst the most lowly. This discontent came to a head in the 1652 riot in Calle Feria sparked off by the scarcity and high price of bread. Calle Feria street is however more famous for its centuries-old Thursday flea market where the passer-by can contemplate the most varied and curious goods, especially antiques and second-hand items.

Don Miguel de Mañara y Vicentelo de Leca, Knight of the Order of Calatrava's name must be mentioned in the same breath as the Hospital y Hermandad (Brotherhood) de la Santa Caridad founded in 1578. This institution was originally founded to bury paupers and criminals with a modicum of decency, and later extended its activity to sheltering the homeless old. Ortiz y Zúñiga, a contemporary chronicler wrote that after the death of his wife, Mañara renounced the pleasures of this world and dedicated himself to working for the Brotherhood, becoming Brother Superior from 1664 to his death in 1679.

The figure of Mañara is also believed by some, albeit wrongly, to have inspired Tirso de Molina's most famous creation, destined for universal fame, Don Juan in his play "El Burlador de Sevilla" or "The Seducer of Seville". Don Juan, the unrepentant seducer, inspired many plays and operas, such as that of Mozart. Seville has honoured this fictitious libertine with a bust in the Plaza de los Refinadores, in the Barrio de Santa Cruz.

Miguel de Mañara's influence still pervades the Hospital de la Santa Caridad. He is buried under the high altar of the church, even though his wish was to be buried in the threshold so that all those who entered would walk over him, but not before reading his chilling epitaph. "Here lies the dust and bones of the worst man to have lived on God's earth. Please pray for his soul".

Mañara's thoughts can be perused in his book "Discurso de la Verdad"- "On Truth"- which is a representative example of his century´s disdain for earthly goods and pleasures, a century which saw eternal life as man´s main goal, a goal achieved through works of charity. This attitude to life was captured and given form in the church, a Baroque jewel, which Mañara built and dedicated to St. George (La Iglesia de San Jorge). Many famous contemporary artists collaborated in the construction such as Bernardo Simón de Pineda who executed the retable, sculptor Pedro Roldán, painters Juan de Valdés Leal and Murillo.

Perhaps one of the most touching details of Mañara's influence in the Hospital de la Caridad are the eight rose bushes which, according to tradition, were planted by Mañara himself over three centuries ago and since which time have not stopped flowering.

Another hospital, El Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes, was founded in 1675 by Canon Justino de Neve to receive the many sick and homeless priests and friars who wandered the city at that time. The church with canvasses by Valdés Leal Senior and Junior was the first to be dedicated to San Fernando. This charitable institution, in the heart of the Barrio Santa Cruz carried on its good works well into this century and the beautiful building, designed in the purest Baroque style by Leonardo de Figueroa, has been home to the cultural foundation Fundación FOCUS since 1991.

1681 saw the birth of the Seminary college of San Telmo whose duty according to Carlos III was to "...house, bring up and educate orphaned and abandoned boys for service in the navy and fleets of the Indies". Since then, this Baroque Palace, emblematic of Seville´s civil architecture of the period, has undergone many changes in its use. Among other things, it was residence of the Dukes of Montpensier in the nineteenth century. During most of this century, it was the provincial Seminary and finally, since 1989 it has been home to the Presidency of the Junta de Andalucía, or regional government.

In 1717 the administration of the Indies was moved to Cádiz and thus disappeared Seville's monopoly on the Indies trade, and her prosperity. Political reasons coupled with the navigational difficulties of the river were the motive of such a loss in favour of the sea-port. No corresponding change was to be found in Seville's high society. Indeed after the War of Succession had placed the House of Bourbon on throne, Seville was honoured with new noble families such as the Counts Galindo and Aguila whose mansions are still to be found in Plaza del Museo and calle Aguilas respectively.

Between 1729 and 1733 Felipe V established his court in Seville. During this so-called Royal Lustrum the city of Seville threw itself heart and soul into the task of entertaining and amusing their melancholy monarch who needed constant change and novelty. Also during these years the devotion to La Divina Pastora (Divine Shepherdess), whose origins were in Seville, was consolidated.This devotion, which was introduced into Hispano-America by Fr. Isidore of Seville in 1703. During this time La Divina Pastora was painted by Alonso Miguel de Tovar after the style of Murillo.

On 18 June 1725 a Royal Command decreed the relocation of the tobacco factory to a site next to San Telmo Palace. When the construction, supervised by military engineers, was completed it was the largest industrial building erected in Europe during the eighteenth century.

This building, now the main building of Seville University is the backdrop to the first scenes of Prosper Merimé's 1845 drama which in turn served as the basis of Bizet's opera, "Carmen". Carmen was a voluptuous tobacco worker who drove men wild with desire.

The last act takes place in Seville's bullring, Holy of Holies to the bullfighting world. After disdaining the desperate advances of Don José, a former lover, Carmen is stabbed by him and expires before La Puerta del Príncipe, the door through which many a triumphant bullfighter has been carried shoulder-high.

During this period in Seville Royal Proclamations were greeted with sumptuous and popular celebrations in which dances, bullfights, jousts, the erection of ephemeral buildings, masquerades, allegorical processions and theatre alternated with vertiginous rapidity. Fernando VI and Bárbara de Braganza's coronation in 1746 was celebrated by the tobacco factory workers with a masquerade. The procession consisted of eight symbolical carriages. The last of which was topped with a portrait of the new monarchs. The painter Domingo Martínez, who affected Murillo's style, captured this Baroque event in a series of canvasses which not only illustrated the colour and ostention of this event, but also gave an accurate chronicle of contemporary Sevillian society and customs. These paintings still captivate the spectator´s wonder and imagination today in Seville's Art gallery (Museo de Bellas Artes).

The earthquake which destroyed Lisbon on 1 November 1755 was also the greatest natural catastrophe to ever hit Seville. A contemporary source relates that "all of Seville´s streets became one vast theatre upon which scenes of bitterness and desperation were played". It is said that the earthquake was of such strength that the bells of the Giralda pealed on their own. Innumerable buildings and monuments were left in ruins or in urgent need of repair. The cathedral Chapter House attributed the fact that no-one was killed for the divine intervention of the Virgin Mary and in thanks erected a "Triumph" dedicated to the Virgin in the Square next to the Cathedral which has been known since then as "Plaza del Triunfo".

In 1758 Seville´s first newspaper -the "Hebdo-mario útil de Sevilla" was the first paper to be printed in Spain outside Madrid. In 1792 another paper was started -"Diario histórico y político de Sevilla" which was followed in 1803 by "Correo literario y económico de Sevilla". For those interested, these papers can be consulted in the Hemeroteca Municipal - Municipal Newspaper Library in calle Almirante Apodaca situated in what was the Law Court (Antiguos Juzgados).

Under Pablo Olavide, Seville University was moved from its original seat in the colegio de Santa María de Jesús to what had been the Jesuit Monastery until their expulsion from Spain in 1767. Nowadays, this building in Calle Laraña is the Fine Arts department of the University.

In May 1700, the century of enlightenment and scientific discovery, Seville saw the foundation of the Royal Society of Philosophy and Medicine of Seville, the first of its type in Spain. Other Royal Societies would follow during the century: in 1751 the Royal Academy of Letters was founded. In 1775 it was the turn of the Royal Economic Society of Friends of the Realm and of the Royal School of the Three Noble Arts which was the forerunner of the present-day Royal Academy of Fine Arts of St Isabel of Hungary which like the other modern Sevillian Academies has its seat in La Casa de los Pinelo, a Reinaissance mansion in Calle Abades.

Olavide was also the creator of a new municipal figure, that of the neighbourhood mayor as well as dividing the city into quarters, neighbourhoods and blocks, which were indicated by tiles let into the walls of various buildings. In fact some of these tiles can still be seen.

In 1771 the ubiquitous Olavide ordered the creation of the first map of Seville, drawn up by Francisco Manuel Coelho and etched by José Antonio Amat. Such was its accuracy that it was awarded a prize by the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid. In fact even today it is an indispensible document for any researcher of eighteenth-century Seville.