The Walls of Seville

Walls of Seville (Macarena Section)

Probably already in Roman times Seville had a walled enclosure, which surely Julius Caesar would have extended the walls of Seville, known as Hispalis back then, during his stay in 47 BC.

In the Puerta de Jerez ( Jerez Gate ) there is a tombstone on which we can read the following legend “Hercules built me, Julio Cesar surrounded me with walls and high towers and the Holy King won me with Garci Perez de Vargas”

The remains of the wall that we can see today are from the Islamic period and were built between the 12th and 13th centuries.

A colossal work, with a width of two and a half meters and a route of 7 and a half kms long. The historic center of Seville, one of the largest in Europe, is shaped by this Almohad wall. The surface area inside the walled enclosure is about 300 hectares

Rammed earth, formed by an amalgam of stones, pieces of brick or ceramic, sand and lime is the construction material the walls are made of.

The function of the Walls

The purpose of the walls of Seville was originally defensive. With the passing of time and already in the 16th and 17th centuries this defensive function wasn´t  relevant any more, but they still have a clear utility.

A civil function, to serve of surveillance and control of those who enter and leave since they were closed at night leaving out rogues, prostitutes and ruffians who normally lived in the suburbs.

A tax function since there were specific doors through which certain goods that were subject to tax had to enter the city, for example the Postigo del Aceite (Oil Gate), which fortunately can still be seen today at the end of Dos de Mayo Street.

The walls of Seville also functioned as a sanitary barrier against epidemics and as a defense wall against the many floods that the city regularly suffered until well into the 20th century, when the deviation of the Guadalquivir river was completed.

In 1868 the decision was taken to demolish the walls of Seville, which at that time were thought to be a brake on the “modern” growth of our city. This decision will change the look of Seville for ever.

Fortunately, the most important section of the walls that was saved from demolition was a piece of wall between the Puerta de Córdoba and the Puerta de la Macarena, probably because at that time this area was not of great urbanistic interest.

Today it is a real treasure and the Town Hall has already approved a restoration project that will begin in 2021.

The Gates

It is not known for sure how many gates and shutters the walls of Seville had, but there could have been as many as 20.

The original Islamic gates were simple projections in the wall, with an elbowed entrance. In the 16th century, once the wall had lost its defensive purpose, these humble gates were replaced by wide gates and shutters with a monumental character.

Only four gates have survived to the present day. The most important one, the Macarena Gate.

There are also references to secret gates through which one could easily flee the city, which makes sense if we think that the wall was basically defensive

It is also interensting how some other Gates have survived in our memory as we walk around the city, still present in the names of squares and streets even when the actual gates were demolished more than a century ago.

La Puerta de Jerez  

The Jerez Gate, today one of the busiest areas of the city, with its beautiful fountain in the center, the Hotel Alfnoso XIII, the old university chapel and the beginning of the Consitución Avenue

La Puerta de la Carne

The Meat Gate, named after the construction of the Meat Market, outside the city walls and in front of the gate. The City Council had a monopoly on this market that supplied the city with meat.

La Puerta de Carmona

The Carmona Gate, was the eastern gate of the city and one of the main ones. It remained open all night. Next to Carmona’s Gate were the “Caños de Carmona” (Carmona’s aqueduct) that supplied the city with drinking water.

La Puerta Osario

The Ossuary Gate, its name was due to the legendary existence of an Islamic cemetery in this area of the city, outside the walls

If you want to know more about Seville and its history contact Showmesevilla and we will organize a customized visit for you.

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