The History of Seville:A Free Tour
When in Sevilla, Spain we went on a wonderful history tour around the city, but for those who want to know it’s history but explore it themselves, I have outlined the main places of interest for the Sevilla Tourist. Seville is rich with history and every small statue in the city represents a story. Some stories are facts whilst others remain to be proven, but the myths are still very interesting part of Seville’s history. I believe without knowing these stories, the city is beautiful but the significance of the place can not be fully appreciated.
The Seville Cathedral is one of the main architectural beauties of the city, rich with history of the past. This cathedral used to be a mosque and 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, Replacing the once muslim structure with an ornate christian symbol. The decorative peices of the cathedral still display moorish artistry and dome-like mosque structures. Latter artwork is also hosted showing its medieval details with gargoyles on the shields of the cathedral exterior.
Jardines de Murillo
The Mayor of Seville Conde de Halcon convinced King Alfonso XIII in 1911 to give the city the area for a city garden. The city architect Juan Talavera y Heredia was chosen to design the gardens and then it was named Murillo Gardens to honor the painter Bartolome Esteban Murillo. The garden hosts a mass of different exotic plants, some imported from the Mediterranean. Many trees in the garden are over 80 years old.
In the gardens are a variety of art peices and statues representing different elements of Seville History.
The colours and shapes on the tiles of the bench are linked to the moorish muslim religious background of the city with its design very similar to the middle eastern tiles of Turkey, Morocco and Iran.
The Story of Christopher Colombus
There are various stories about Christopher Columbus, and many hold mythical status due to the fact that no one knows how true it all is.
The first history reports that with the backing of King Fernando and Queen Isabel for his voyage to to the Indies (that prompted the discovery of America). The reasons for their backing were that he would find new trade routes for the spanish monarchy, and if successful, be knighted. A myth follows that the reasons for King Fernando’s sending of Columbus were not as pure as that. A legend says that Columbus and Isabella had an affair, and the King agreed to the voyage thinking that Columbus would not return successfully. The accuracy of this claim is unknown. Additionally, the hanging items off of the ship seem to look like fruit but a story says the king may have died of eating bull’s testicles in thinking that feeding on them would improve his fertility. The fruit starts to resemble something very different.
Nonetheless, the monument stands to show the importance of Columbus’ Voyage and its connection with Seville. It is thought that Columbus is burial ground is in the city.
The City is rich with Jewish history. Many Jews and Muslims were exiled in the reign of King Ferdinand as they encouraged a Christian Country. Many in the middle ages where massacred for their faith if they did not immediately convert to catholicism. The pictures above tell a story of one Jewish girl, who fell in love for a Catholic Soldier, and told him of her escape. Her family was killed because of her naive love, and she is said to have hung herself after the murders. Las Cadenas indicates ‘Chains’ from where she hung herself and a plaque and skull is present at her home.
Her family was one of many to be murdered at the Jewish quarter of Seville, some mercilessly killed every Jew who fell into their hands and refused to be baptized; many women and children were sold into slavery. A number of Jews, however, managed to escape. Seville was the first to destroy its jewish communities and within three months most of the flourishing Jewish communities in all the Christian States of Spain – Castille, Aragon, Valencia, Catalonia, as well as the Balearic Islands-were destroyed.
Symbols of Wealth and Religious Status adorn the walls of the city.
The Pillars of Hercules
Hercules 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.
“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. The two columns were removed from the ruins of a Roman temple in calle Mármoles where two sister columns remain.
“NO8DO” is the official motto and the subject of one of the many legends of Seville. The legend has left its very tangible mark throughout the city as NO8DO can be seen on landmarks ranging from the common bike rack, the caps of the municipal sewer and water system, ordinary sidewalks, buses, taxis, monuments, even Christopher Columbus‘s tomb. The motto of Seville is a visible presence of which any visitor is sure to take note.
The motto is a rebus combining the Spanish syllables (NO and DO) and a drawing in between of the figure “8”. The figure represents a skein of yarn, or in Spanish, a “madeja”. When read aloud, “No madeja do” sounds like “No me ha dejado”, which means “It [Seville] has not abandoned me”.
The story of how NO8DO came to be the motto of the city has undoubtedly been embellished throughout the centuries.
After San Fernando’s death in the Real Alcázar, his son, Alfonso X assumed the throne. Alfonso X was a scholar king, hence his title. He was a poet, astronomer, astrologer, musician and linguist. Alfonso’s son, tried to usurp the throne from his father, but the people of Seville remained loyal to their scholar king and this is where the symbol comes from.