The Plaza del Triunfo in Seville

Plaza del Triunfo in Seville

The Plaza del Triunfo in Seville is one of the most beautiful and unique places in the city .

 Many of our routes start or end here.

Along the History the Plaza del Triunfo in Seville has had differnt names , Plaza del Alcázar because of its proximity to it. It was also called Plaza de los Cantos because at a certain point the rubble and stones used in the construction of the Cathedral were piled up there.

Finally it is called Plaza del Triunfo in memory of the great earthquake of Lisbon in 1755. For a short period of time and taking advantage of the situation it was called the Square of the Triumph of the Republic.

It is interesting to study this area during the Islamic period: the Alcazar, the Great Mosque (now the Cathedral), the Royal Smithy (now the Archives of the Indies), the Alcaicería (a state market of precious godos north of the Great Mosque, almost next to it), and a little further away the Mint and the Atarazanas.

All these buildings were inside a defensive enclosure formed by a circuit of walls with their corresponding doors, that is to say, a real palatine city. This space was called the Interior Alcazaba ( Fortress).

The Plaza del Triunfo in Seville  and the Lisbon Earthquake

The 1755  earthquake is  known as the Lisbon Earthquake because it was in this city where the damage was most prominent.

It took place on November 1st, All Saints’ Day, surprising thousands of people in the middle of High Mass.

Its epicenter was located on the Azores-Gibraltar fault that crosses a wide region where the African tectonic plate collides with the Eurasian one.

The earthquake began in Lisbon (the city of reference) at 9:40 a.m. and its effects were felt in western Andalusia about 10 or 15 minutes later.

The shaking was not perceived as a continuous movement, but there were some intervals of quietness. Three phases are recorded in Lisbon and their corresponding reflections in the rest of the continent: The first consisted of rapid, very light vibrations that caused alarm and lasted about one minute. After about 30 seconds a very violent movement came the great tremor, which caused massive material and human destruction. This lasted 2 or 3 minutes. After another small pause of less than a minute, came another more lasting phase of 3 or 4 minutes, of less violence and with a tendency to disappear.

The total duration of the earthquake was therefore between 6 and 8 minutes (the longer the closer to the epicenter).

According to current studies, the earthquake could have had in the zone of influence of its epicenter a magnitude of between 8 and 9 degrees on the Richter scale. It is very difficult to say with what magnitude it hit western Andalusia.

The Tsunami

In relation to the provoked tsunami (perceived on both sides of the Atlantic), it is enough to say that in the cape of San Vicente the tsunami could have reached a height of 15 meters.

It affected a very large area. The effects on land, to a greater or lesser degree, could be perceived even in Germany and the tsunami even in the Antilles or Brazil.

The Victims

As for the number of victims, we must say that we are gathering in this article the data from what is the best and most professional study carried out to date on the Lisbon Earthquake, the one conducted by José Manuel Martínez Solares. Well, according to his research, in Lisbon, and as a result of the earthquake, the subsequent fire and the tsunami, some 12,000 people died (out of a population of about 150,000). There were also several thousand victims that are difficult to quantify in the south of Portugal. In Spain, as a result of the earthquake and especially the tsunami (on the coasts of Cadiz and Huelva), some 1,500 people died. In Morocco it is very difficult to know, but there must have been several thousand as well.

The consequences of the earthquake in the city

Regarding the damage in our city (Seville is about 371 kilometers from the epicenter): Of a possible total of about 11,000 houses, between 10 and 20% were destroyed or very seriously affected, and between 60 and 70% were affected to a greater or lesser extent.

Of the religious and civil buildings, although none of importance came to collapse, the great majority would be affected in some way (large pieces of stone fell from the roof of the main nave of the Cathedral, various sections of the Alcazar were very affected, and the Giralda tower wants popular devotion that did not fall thanks to the legendary contribution of Saints Justa and Rufina, protectors of the Tower in the earthquakes of 1504 (called Carmona), 1655 and 1755). The damage to the walls as well as to some of its gates and towers would be serious.

According to official data, there were 9 deaths; according to the inscription on the front tombstone of the Triumph, 6, in any case very few.

Besides its material and economic implications, it had a very wide social, religious and philosophical echo throughout the continent.

The repetition of an earthquake or tidal wave of similar characteristics is possible since the area between Gibraltar and the Azores Islands is of great seismic intensity (three tectonic plates contact and friction). In fact, experts say that movements of this caliber are usually repeated every thousand years. In Seville, the last significant one took place in the night of 1969, and another one of less intensity in 2007.

What is a ”Triunfo” in artistic terms?


In Seville, in gratitude for the few personal injuries suffered in the city and as a permanent reminder of the Earthquake, the Cabildo agreed to erect a monument in the place where tradition has it that the High Mass  was finished in the Cathedral at the time of the disaster.

What seems certain is that in that place an altar was set up where the day’s masses were celebrated and in the afternoon a Te Deum (thanksgiving) was officiated. This monument, a Triunfo in artistic terms, was paid for by popular subscription.

In Andalusia a laudatory or commemorative monument supported by a column or pilaster is called Triunfo.

This monument gives its name to the Plaza del Triunfo.

The monument, the work of José Tomás Zambrano, was finally inaugurated in 1756.

The column and the gazebo form a baroque ensemble made of stone with marble inlays.

The image of the Virgin (some call it of the Patronage) is of Italian school and, donated by a devotee, was possibly brought from Florence. The whole is surrounded by a wrought iron gate with four high street lights of the nineteenth century.

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