The history of Seville is based around a fascinating tug of power and influence between Muslim Moors and Christians – the impact of both is prominent in the city. Starting in 711, North African Muslims captured the Iberian Peninsula and ruled for 5 centuries. Whilst the Muslim State was diminishing, Christians against the Moorish rule led a successful movement to expel the Moors from Spain.
The Moors’ distinct mark on Andalucian culture can still be seen all over the city today – in the spectacular palace of Alcazar which was rebuilt in a Moorish style, albeit for Christian purposes.
In 1503, Seville was to become one of the wealthiest and largest cities on the planet, after being awarded a monopoly on Spanish trade with the Americas. The smaller ships at the time could easily navigate through the Guadalquivir, bringing gold and silver to Seville and turning it into one of Europe’s most beautiful cities – the latter still being the case today.
However a combination of a plague in 1649, killing half of the city’s population, and the increase in size of the ships meant that Seville was not the ideal place to home the Casa de la Contratación. This was instead moved to the big-port city of Cadiz, and consequently took the trade and wealth with it, away from Seville.