The large Renaissance building that we know today as the Archivo de Indias was originally conceived as the Lonja de Mercaderes, to house and organize part of the commercial activity that arrived in the city during the 16th century. Until its construction, merchants used the spaces around the Cathedral as a market, especially the area known as 'las gradas', towards Alemanes street. The Chapter of the Cathedral was upset with this situation and asked the king for a solution.

Felipe II would attend to the request and commission Juan de Herrera, the famous architect from El Escorial, to design the new building in 1572. Work began in 1584 directed by Juan de Minjares following Herrera's plans. It seems that the building was ready for use in 1598, although there is evidence that the works continued during the 17th century.

When the center of commerce moved to Cádiz, in the 18th century, it was when the building was readapted to house all the documentation generated by the Casa de Contratación. As a result of this new circumstance, new works would be undertaken on the property in order to adapt it to the new use. It would be then, for example, when the monumental main access staircase to the upper floor was built.

It houses all the documentation related to the Spanish administration of the American territories. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987, together with the Cathedral and the Alcázar, due to the great historical and artistic values of the complex.

The building is a magnificent sample of the Renaissance in the city, with a more sober and Italianate air than is usual here. It has a square plan, two stories high, articulated around a monumental central patio, porticoed with Doric columns, very similar to the Patio de los Evangelistas in El Escorial.

On the façade, a bichrome color was introduced between the reddish brick panels and the pale stone pilasters. This game of two colors was enormously successful in Seville and we will see it reproduced in numerous buildings in the city for centuries to come.

Inside, the naves around the patio are covered with hollow vaults, with coffers and plant decoration. Practically all the walls are covered by shelves of magnificent quality, made with mahogany and cedar wood brought expressly from Cuba. These shelves were added in the 18th century, when the old Lonja was converted into an Archive.

It was also then that Lucas Cintora designed the monumental staircase behind the main access from Avenida de la Constitución. It is covered with red and greyish black jaspers and above it stands a vaulted ceiling with a central lantern that provides light.

The Archive contains documents of incalculable value. Manuscripts of characters such as Christopher Columbus, Hernán Cortés, Miguel de Cervantes, Felipe II, Felipe IV or George Washington himself, the first president of the United States. In addition, it brings together a magnificent collection of engravings, drawings and maps, authentic jewels for the study of the history of America up to the 19th century.



The House of Trade was an institution founded in 1503 by order of Isabel la Católica, in charge of managing everything related to navigation and commercial exploitation of the new territories of the Crown overseas.

CC BY-SA 4.0

Initially it settled in a space of the old Shipyards, but due to the constant flooding of the river, it was soon moved to the location that it would occupy inside the Alcázar. There it would occupy the space of one of the old Muslim palaces, to the west of the palace of Pedro I, a space that had already been used by the so-called Cuarto de los Admirales. At the beginning of the 16th century, a complete renovation of the facilities began and a new façade was opened towards the current Plaza de la Contratación. However, the building that we can see there today, owned by the Junta de Andalucía, was built in the 1970s. It was then that the old courtyard of the Muslim palace was rebuilt, based on the few archaeological remains found.

From the 16th century Casa de Contratación, some rooms and patios have been preserved, which today can be visited from inside the Alcázar. Among them, we can highlight the Admiral's Room and the Audience Room.

The Admiral's Hall is a large rectangular space covered by a wooden ceiling, with horizontal beams resting on corbels with a design inspired by the work of Sebastiano Serlio. Dating from the end of the 16th century, this ceiling is attributed to the master carpenter of the Alcázar, Martín Infante. The walls are decorated with paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries belonging to National Heritage, the Prado Museum and the collection of the Royal Family. Particularly interesting are the portraits painted by the German Winterhalter of The King and Queen of France, Luis Felipe and Amelia, with their children, and those of Don Antonio and Doña Luisa Fernanda, Dukes of Montpensier.

Opposite, hangs a large painting titled The Aftermath of Fernando III the Saint, signed and dated in Seville by the local painter Virgilio Mattoni in 1887. It is a work owned by the Prado Museum, although it is deposited in the Alcázar due to the great connection of the work with this place, since the event that it narrates, the death of Fernando III, happened here, in the Alcázar. On the back wall, in the central place of the room, we can see the oil painting titled The Ibero-American Exhibition Inauguration, painted by Alfonso Grosso in 1929.

For its part, the Courtroom owes its name to the fact that it was the seat of the Admiralty Court of Castilla. It is a room with a square plan, whose wooden coffered ceiling from the 16th century, richly gilded, presents traces reminiscent of the old Mudejar style.

On the walls appear the coats of arms of several famous admirals in the naval history of Spain, among which is that of Christopher Columbus, right in the center of the wall on the left.

In the central part of the room we see the altarpiece of Nuestra Señora de los Navegantes, made by Alejo Fernández in 1535. It is the first painting in Europe that has the discovery of America as its theme. We cannot identify the figures that appear clearly, but we know that they are Christopher Columbus, Emperor Carlos, Fernando el Católico, Sancho de Matienzo (first treasurer of the Casa de Contratación), Americo Vespuccio, Juan de la Cosa and several indigenous people. , of the recently discovered lands. All of them covered under the mantle of the Virgin of Buenos Aires. At the bottom are several of the types of boats that made the race to the Indies, so the work as a whole offers testimony of incalculable value.


The Sevillian town hall has its headquarters in a magnificent 16th century building, which preserves much of its façade traces of the exquisite Plateresque Renaissance style in which it was built.

CC BY-SA 4.0

The building was originally attached to the Casa Grande de San Francisco convent, which originally occupied the entire area of Plaza Nueva and its adjacent blocks. The works began around 1527, coinciding with the stay of Emperor Charles V in the city to celebrate his marriage to Isabel of Portugal. Throughout the century, different architects succeeded one another in directing the works, such as Diego de Riaño, Juan Sánchez, Hernán Ruiz II or Benvenuto Tortello.

In the 19th century, following the disappearance of the San Francisco convent, the building was significantly expanded. It was then that the neoclassical façade facing Plaza Nueva was built, the work of Balbino Marrón (1861) and the extension of the façade towards Plaza de San Francisco, directed by Demetrio de los Ríos (1868).

Towards the outside, the exquisite Plateresque decoration of the part built in the 16th century stands out. We can see a complex iconographic program, full of mythological characters and references to Roman antiquity, mixed with the emblems of Carlos V. In this way, it was intended to exalt the city's past, relating it to the glorification of the figure of the emperor . In this way, the aim was to consolidate Seville as the most important city of that great empire that took shape during the 16th century.

On both sides of the arch that originally gave access to the Convent of San Francisco we see two niches with the figures of Hercules and Julius Caesar. Both characters are considered the mythological and historical founders of the city. The sculptures were added in 1854 one of the extensive restorations undertaken on the building's façade. They are the work of Vicente Hernández Couquet.


The Royal Court was the highest judicial institution in the city and settled in this space since the beginning of the 16th century, when it moved from its previous headquarters in the Casa de Pilatos. The current building would be built in the Renaissance style at the end of the same century by order of Felipe II.

However, the building that we can see today is far from the original, due to the numerous historical vicissitudes it has gone through.

In 1918 there was a great fire that destroyed it to a large extent and forced the transfer of the courts to Almirante Apocada street, to the place where the General Archive of Andalusia is located today.

After the fire, Aníbal González was in charge of remodeling the property, giving it its current appearance. In the 1970s it underwent another important transformation with the aim of making it the headquarters of the old Caja de San Fernando. Today it houses the headquarters of the CajaSol Foundation.