THE GOLD AND SILVER TOWERS

The walls of Isbiliya were notably increased during the last stage of the Muslim rule. Specifically, between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the city's walled enclosure was expanded, fully encompassing what is now the old town. Some authors indicate that it was by Almoravid initiative, although it seems that the bulk of the group would already be Almohad. The main fragments that have come down to us are from this period, such as the section that goes from the Arco de la Macarena to the Puerta de Córdoba or the visible canvas in the Jardines del Valle.

Around 1220 the surroundings of the Alcázar were fortified in turn. As part of this process, the Torre del Oro was built to reinforce the defense of the port. It was linked by a wall canvas to the Alcázar complex, so it was possible to get there from the palaces without stepping on the street. Forming part of this fragment that disappeared almost in its entirety would be the towers of La Plata and Abdelaziz, which we can see today on Santander Street and on Constitution Avenue respectively.

The Torre del Oro is the most famous of those that have survived from the walled enclosure of Seville. It was built between 1220 and 1221 and apparently owes its name to the golden effects that its color produced when it reflected with the river, the result of the lime and straw mortar with which it was originally completely covered.

Archaeological studies suggest that only the first body of the tower corresponds to the initial Almohad phase, the plan of which is a twelve-sided polygon. Its upper part is crossed by a frieze with paired windows, today blinded, framed by pointed horseshoe arches, supported by brick pilasters.

It is probable that the series of battlements that top this body are already from the Christian period, probably from the reign of Alfonso X the Wise. There are also doubts about the chronology of the second body of the tower, although in general its construction tends to be attributed to the reign of Pedro I, already in the 14th century. It is documented that this body had direct access from the Alcázar through the upper part of the wall, without the need to go down to the street. Apparently, King Don Pedro made use of this circumstance to use the Torre del Oro as a setting for his encounters with one of his lovers. Given this use that we know, it is likely that he himself ordered the construction of this second level.

In any case, the second body also has a twelve-sided plan, like the main body, but smaller. It presents a beautiful decoration based on polylobed blind arches, alternating on their faces the couplets with the simple ones.

Finally, the body that tops the tower, with its small dome of golden tiles, was added as early as the 18th century, as part of the work undertaken by the engineer Sebastián Van der Borcht to strengthen and embellish the tower after the damage suffered by the Lisbon earthquake of 1755.

From its Islamic origins, the main purpose of the Torre del Oro was to serve as a defensive bastion at the entrance to the Port of Seville. It should be remembered that during most of its history the port stretched between the tower and the Bridge of Barcas, in the place that today occupies the Bridge of Isabel II. Currently, the tower al berga is a Naval Museum, focused on highlighting the link between Seville and navigation, with numerous pieces such as instruments, engravings, nautical charts or models.

For its part, the so-called Torre de la Plata is located in the current Santander Street, and was originally linked to that of Oro by a wall canvas that has now disappeared. They were part of the defensive complex to the south of the city, the port and the surroundings of the Alcázar, along with other towers such as Abdelaziz, which is still preserved on Avenida de la Constitución.

It has an octagonal plan and is simpler than the Gold in its structure and decoration, although in all probability they were built around the same time. What does seem likely is that it was already grown in Christian times, in the time of Alfonso X, during the second half of the 13th century. We know that in Christian times it was also called Torre de los Azacanes. Azacán is a word of Arabic origin that designated those who were dedicated to carrying water using animals. It is probable that on a regular basis he entered the city through the shutter that was next to this tower and that this is where the name comes from.

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