Archivo General de Indias

Seville, Spain

The Archivo General de Indias ('General Archive of the Indies'), housed in the ancient merchants' exchange of Seville, is the repository of extremely valuable archival documents illustrating the history of the Spanish Empire in the Americas and the Philippines. The building itself, an unusually serene and Italianate example of Spanish Renaissance architecture, was designed by Juan de Herrera. This structure and its contents were registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site together with the adjoining Seville Cathedral and the Alcázar of Seville.

The origin of the structure dates to 1572 when Philip II commissioned the building from Juan de Herrera, the architect of the Escorial to house the Consulado de mercaderes of Seville. The building was begun in 1584 and was ready for occupation in 1598, according to an inscription on the north façade. Work on completing the structure proceeded through the 17th century, directed until 1629 by the archbishop Juan de Zumárraga and finished by Pedro Sanchez Falconete.

In 1785, by decree of Charles III the archives of the Council of the Indies were to be housed here, in order to bring together under a single roof all the documentation regarding the overseas empire.

The archives are rich with autograph material from the first of the Conquistadores to the end of the 19th century. Here are Miguel de Cervantes' request for an official post, the Bull of Demarcation Inter caetera of Pope Alexander VI that divided the world between Spain and Portugal, the journal of Christopher Columbus, maps and plans of the colonial American cities, in addition to the ordinary archives that reveal the month-to-month workings of the whole vast colonial machinery, which have been mined by many historians in the last two centuries.

Today the Archivo General de Indias houses some nine kilometers of shelving, in 43,000 volumes and some 80 million pages, which were produced by the colonial administration.



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Founded: 1584
Category: Miscellaneous historic sites in Spain


4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Dan M (7 months ago)
Interesting and beautiful building near the Cathedral and the Alcazar. You wouldn't go especially there, but as it is located between these 2 main attractions of Seville, it would be a pity to miss it. To visit it you'll need less than half an hour. The boxes in the shelves are empty, so I suppose all the documents are stored somewhere else safer. The entrance is free so...
Vincent Oliver (10 months ago)
A real anticlimax. Beautiful exterior and impressive interior but all the "books" on the shelves are just empty boxes!!. Some paintings of Spanish legends but no bilingual descriptions. Don't make this a priority visit if you have limited time as many other fascinating places to visit.
Melanie Mengüs (11 months ago)
The museum itself is so beautiful. The architecture is impressive and particularly the hall with all the archives. You can also have a beautiful view over the cathedral if you look by the windows. However there’s no thing written in English or French. It’s only written in Spanish which is a bit annoying as you don’t know what you are looking at.
Laura Alexandra (13 months ago)
A free gem in Seville tight next to Alcazar. It was beautiful to walk through on a rainy afternoon…probably a good place to stop in summer as well to cool down. The building is very grand and nicely decorated.
Manuel Girisch (13 months ago)
This is the place, where, above many documents of course, Columbus letters are kept. The entrance is free and you just need 15 to 20 minutes. Not many tourists find there way there, so it is rather quiet. Beautiful staircase, wooden ceilings, paintings and more.
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