Port of Seville
Review and History

The Port of Seville is the capital of the Province of Seville in Andalusia, Spain. Lying on the eastern bank of the Guadalquivir River about 54 miles inland from the Atlantic coast, Seville is Andalusia’s most important city and the fourth biggest city in Spain.

The Port of Seville is the country’s most important inland port, exporting olives, fruit, wines, cork, and minerals. Its imports include coal, oil, and metal products. The city is home to several manufacturing industries making armaments, porcelain, tobacco, airplane parts, agricultural machinery, and chemical products. After World War II, shipbuilding and textile manufacturing became important to the local economy, as did commercial services and tourism. In 2006, almost 695 thousand people lived in the city, and over 1.4 million lived in the metropolitan area.

Port History

The Port of Seville was born more than 2,000 years ago, giving it a large, well-preserved historic city center. The Romans knew it as Hispalis, and it was near the Roman city called Italica (where Emperors Trajan and Hadrian were born) that may reveal what Seville looked like at the time. Modern Seville boasts remnants of a Roman aqueduct. The city flourished under Roman rule from the 2nd Century BC, being their administrative center for the Baetica colony.

As the Roman Empire weakened, the area was raided by Vandals and Visigoths in the 5th and 6th Centuries. In the 5th Century AD, the Vandals used it as the seat of their kingdom until 461 when it fell to the Visigoths.

Then in the early 8th Century, the Moors conquered the city (calling it Ixvillia) and much of southern Spain. It was the 12th Century capital for the Almohad confederation, and it enjoyed great prosperity and development during their rule. The Port of Seville was controlled by the Muslims until the mid-13th Century when Fernando III re-took it for Christianity. Yet, the city still has a Moorish character and many Moorish structures, including sections of the city wall.

The new Spanish king drove Moors and Jews into exile, and the city’s economy was decimated for a time. As Spanish trade with the New World increased, however, the Port of Seville experienced a golden age of wealth and development, as it was awarded a monopoly on trade with Spain’s colonies. The House of Trade (Casa de Contratacion) was established there in 1503 to control Spain’s commerce with the New World. The Port of Seville dominated Spain’s colonial commerce for two hundred years, and the country’s main mint for gold and silver from the New World was located there. It soon became the biggest city in Spain. By 1588, the city was home to about 150 thousand people.

As the Guadalquivir River silted up and colonial trade decreased, the Port of Seville fell into a period of economic decline in the 17th Century. Its cultural life flowered, though. Seville boasts painters Diego Velazquez, Francisco de Zurbaran, and Bartolome Esteban Murillo, sculptor Juan Montanes, and poet Fernando de Herrera. Cervantes had the idea for Don Quixote while he was imprisoned in Seville’s jail.

During the 18th Century, Spain’s kings attempted to develop a local economy that was not dependent on trade. But 19th Century invasions, revolutions, and civil war were serious barriers to the Port of Seville’s progress. The April Fair, an annual gala after Easter, was established in 1847.

In 1929, the Iberoamerican Exposition started a renaissance for the Port of Seville. During the 20th Century, a new industrial and commercial revival began, and the port was expanded. In 1992, the Universal Exposition world’s fair opened in the Port of Seville, bringing modernization and new monuments to the city as well as new rail and road connections to the rest of Spain. Supporting the revival of the port was an effort to bring the Guadalquivir River, which had been diverted for centuries, into its natural riverbed through the city.

Early in the Spanish Civil War, the Port of Seville fell quickly to General Francisco Franco’s troops in 1936. While the working class resisted Franco’s control for a time, a series of terrible reprisals ended the resistance.

Because Franco’s troops held the city through most of the Spanish Civil War, the city’s monuments survived the war. The oldest part of the city, on the bank of the river, survives with its maze of winding narrow streets, enclosed squares, and Moorish-styled houses. In the city center are the historic Cathedral of Santa Maria and the Alcazar Palace.

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