The Gateway to America in Seville

ITINERARY: Seville, Castilleaja de la Cuesta, Santiponce.

The discovery of America and subsequent events made Seville one of the most important cities of its time. The centre of the trade monopoly of the New World, it was the base for seafaring operations in the Atlantic and Pacific for over two hundred years. The impact of those times has left an indelible mark which is manifest in numerous religious, civil and administrative buildings of various kinds. From places related to the figure of Christopher Columbus, who resided during his visits at the Monasterio de La Cartuja (15th-18th C.) situated in the centre of the Expo'92 site and the old Colegio de San Laureano (16th C.), where his son, Hernando was to built his house and gardens, to a complex mosaic of architectural examples.

Three categories may be established in order to distinguish the traces left by contact with America. Firstly, the port, the very core of its past, the wharves of which witnessed the setting sail and the return of the First Voyage around the world by Magallanes and Elcano. On the left bank, the Arenal, which includes the Atarazanas (13th-18th C). served as an arsenal and supply depot ; the symbolic Torre del Oro and Torre de la Plata (The Gold Tower and The Silver Tower) and the Arab wall which formed part of the old Customs area, where the merchandise entering the city was stores on its way to the Casa de La Contratacion (Chamber of Commerce), which was situated in the Alcazar, and which was the office which controlled the traffic and the preparation of fleets. Precious metals were taken to the Casa de La Moneda ( the Mint 16th-18th C.) where, according to one witness " so much gold was stored that it was hard to imagine".

A second reminder of those times are the religious buildings, many belonging to the orders with interests in America, such as the Church of La Magdalena (17th-18thC.), which belonged to the Convent of San Pablo, the study centre of the defender of the Indians, Friar Bartolome de las Casas, The Convent of Los Remedios (16th-17th C.), on the other side of the river, built for the protection of the sailors; the parish church of Santa Ana (13th-16th C.), The Cathedral of the sailors' quarter of Triana, and the Convent of Santa Paula, under the patronage of the descendants of Columbus, Hernán Cortés, Viceroys and Spanish emigrants returning from America.

The fever of onstructionfired the riches carried there by river led to the building of 2,400 new houses between 1561 and 1588, the finest examples being properties of merchants. The Casa Pinelos (15th-17th C.), belonging to an influential Genoese family, friens of Columbus and active entrepreneurs; the house of Mañara (16th-17th C.), born in Corsica, situated in the heart of the old Jewish quarter; and the house of Bucarelli (17th C.), with its splendid façade. And finally, three great emblematic buildings: the palace of San Telmo (17th- 19th C.) which was the seat of the University of seafarers, an institutions which traind seamen; Archivo de Indias, the Archives of the Indies (16th-18th C.) of exceptional documentary interest, and the former Tobacco Factory (18th C.), now the University, reminding us that this was where tobacco enters Europe.

In nearby Castilleja de la Cuesta is the Palce of Hernan Cortes (16th C. greatly modified), probably the scene of his death, and in Santiponce, the Monastery of San Isidro del Campo (14th-17th C.), the centre for the export of agricultural produce to America, with its Gothic Temple and Mudejar style monastic patios. And finally, an example of the influence of the return, The Church of San Agustin (18th C.) in Marchena, with its Mexican Baroque decoration.

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