In almost all of the works that have described Seville since the 16th century, they speak of its “Roman” walls. Official historiography did not hesitate to trace its origin back to the times of Julius Caesar, as reflected in the founding legend of the city that appeared inscribed on a plaque at the Puerta de Jerez: "Hercules founded me, Julius Caesar surrounded me with walls and high towers. In fact, until just a few decades ago, the guides continued to allude to the Roman origin of the Seville fence.

Thus, they were endowed with much more antiquity, within the tendency to extol the Roman past as the main cultural substratum over the Islamic contribution.

It is true that Seville had some Roman walls that have been verified archaeologically, but they enclosed a much smaller space that was limited to an area that extended approximately between Martín Villa, Laraña and Imagen streets, to the north, and the area from the cathedral and the fortress, to the south. The wall that reached contemporary times is the one built by the Almohads in the 12th century, although there are authors who trace its origins back a few decades and attribute them to the Almoravids.

They built an enormous wall marked out by towers of more than 7 kilometers in length, which closed off a space of 273 hectares. The dimensions were so enormous that the intramural area was not filled by the city until centuries later. The few canvases that have come down to us belonged to these walls: the one that develops between the Macarena arch and the Puerta de Córdoba, the one in the Valle gardens and the one that runs along Calle del Agua to the Alcázar in the neighborhood of Santa Cruz. In addition, there are many other fragments masked among the current buildings in various parts of the city.

We know the location of many of the entrances that the Almohad walled enclosure had. In the Puerta de la Macarena there was the bab Maqarana, in the one in Córdoba the bab Qurtuba, at the end of Sol street the bab al-Sams, in Puerta Jerez the bab Saris and possibly in the postigo del Aceite the bab Zayt. In addition, we know that there were other entrances whose names are not clear, such as those of Puerta Osario, Puerta de la Carne or Puerta de Triana, which is said to be the most beautiful of all the Muslim fences.

Of all of them, only the Aceite shutter and the Macarena and Córdoba gates have survived to us, although in a very partial way. Most of the walls and their gates were demolished in the second half of the 19th century, especially during the Democratic Six-year period, between 1868 and 1874. The reasons given were mainly urban. It was believed that the walls restricted Seville in some way and made its expansion impossible following modern and rational criteria.


There was a prevailing current of thought that identified the permanence of walled enclosures in Spanish cities with the decadence and lack of progress that they wanted to overcome. In a very beautiful way, Bécquer shares this feeling in some verses dedicated to Ávila in 1864:

Almost lost in the twilight mist and enclosed within its jagged walls, the ancient city, homeland of Santa Teresa, Ávila, the one with the dark, narrow and crooked streets, the one with the dust-covered balconies, the corners with altarpieces and the eaves. outgoing There is the population, today as in the 16th century, silent and stagnant.

The fact that the walls were almost complete until such recent times makes it possible for there to be numerous engravings, paintings, drawings and even photographs of its main entrances. However, it must be said that the doors that appear in these images do not correspond to the original ones of the Almohad fence, but rather belong to the reconstructions carried out from the 16th century, therefore they present a stylistic variety that ranges between Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassicism according to their chronology.

This is the case of the Macarena arch, which only shares its location with the Almoha door, since as we see it today it is the result of an 18th century work, when it was completely redone.

The reason why the Almohad entrances were replaced by others made after the arrival of the Christians has to do above all with issues of transit. The Muslim entrances were layered to allow their defense in a more effective way. That is to say, they were made up of several doors arranged at an angle forming turns that made them more difficult to attack. When the Christian conquest of the Peninsula was consolidated, this reinforced security became unnecessary and also caused bottleneck problems in the entry and exit of people and merchandise, especially as the use of horse-drawn carriages spread. Thus, the authorities successively undertook to replace the original entrances with others that were simpler in structure, with a large central opening open on both sides through which it was much easier to navigate.

The only entrance from which we can still see something of its original Almohad traces is the Puerta de Córdoba. As it has come down to us, it is a robust rectangular tower with two horseshoe-arched doors open on two sides, forming a 90º angle. This body would originally be inscribed in a larger fortified space, which had a third door open to the outside and now disappeared. If attacking theorists managed to get past this third gate, they still had two more to break down, while the city's defenders could harass them from the top of the walls.

The fact that it is the only preserved door is not the result of chance. Since the Middle Ages, the legend had spread that this was the place where the Visigothic prince Hermenegildo was imprisoned, after having revolted against his father Leovigildo, proclaiming himself king. Hermenegildo had justified his disloyalty in his conversion to Catholicism, which in theory prevented him from maintaining his fidelity to an Arian king. This circumstance would cause Hermenegildo over time to be identified by official and Catholic historiography as a precursor martyr of the catholicity of Spain. In this vein, he was canonized in 1585 and has since been considered one of the patron saints of the Hispanic Monarchy. The places related to his history or his legend became almost sacred. This explains why in the 17th century the church of San Hermenegildo, which we can see today, was built next to the door.

Although incomplete, this meant that the gate was saved from the great destruction of the wall in the 19th century and has come down to us, at least partially. Seville's taste for legends, which inhabit each of the corners of this city, served in this case so that today we can contemplate a beautiful testimony of the monumental walls of Isbiliya from the 12th century.


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