The City of Sevilla
Seville is more than 2,000 years old. The passage of the various civilizations, instrumental in its growth, has left the city a distinct personality, and a large and well-preserved historical centre. Although with a strong medieval, renaissance and baroque heritage, the city received heavy influences from Arabic culture, which can be seen in the most famous monuments and places.
The city was known from Roman times as Hispalis. The nearby Roman city of Italica, a mainly residential city at the time, is well-preserved and gives an impression of how Hispalis may have looked in the later Roman period. Existing Roman features in Seville include the remnants of an aqueduct.
After successive conquests of the Roman province of Hispania Baetica by the Vandals and the Visigoths during the 5th and 6th centuries, the city was taken by the Moors in 712 and renamed Išbīliya (إشبيلية), derived from Hispalis, from which the present name "Sevilla" is derived. It was an important centre in Muslim Andalusia and it remained under Muslim control, under the authority of the Umayyad caliphate, the Almoravid empire and the Almohad dynasties, until falling to the Christian king Fernando III of Castile in 1248. The city, though, retains many Moorish features, including large sections of the city wall.
Following the Reconquest, the city's development continued, mainly due to its economical position, with the construction of public buildings including churches, many of which are in Mudéjar style. A royal residence, the alcazar, was built in a moorish lush style, and the huge gothic cathedral was built during the 15th century. Later, the city experienced another golden age of development brought about by the wealth accumulating from the awarding of a monopoly of trade within the Spanish territories in the New World (See Winds in the Age of Sail). Since only ships departing from Seville could go and come from the Spanish Americas, merchants of all the world went to Seville, as it was the gate to America, and its population growth to nearly a million people, to some accounts. However, when the monopoly was forced to be shared with Cádiz in the late 16th century, its importance started to decline, and after the silting up of the Guadalquivir river, the city went into relative economic decline.
Seville's development in the 19th and 20th centuries was characterised by population growth and increasing industrialisation.
Seville fell very quickly to General Franco's troops near the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 due to its proximity to the invasion force coming from Morocco. After the initial takeover of the city, resistance continued amongst the working class areas for some time, until a series of fierce reprisals took place.
- (Spanish) Official website of the city council.