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
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User Reviews

Attila Rausch (14 months ago)
Archivo de Indias is a very fascinating historical archive where you may find a well designed and interactive exhibition which introduces the excitement and amazing effort of the age of discovery to explore new lands and cultures. During this exhibition you may step on the way of one the voyages. It's worth a visitation, and the entry is free.
Wayne Balsiger (15 months ago)
Nice history of Magellan and the first voyage around the world. Nice Palace to visit as well. Free admission.
Michele Wieczorek (15 months ago)
I visited in September 2019 when there was an excellent exposition about Magellan's travel around the world. Very immersive and well-done. And it is free!
keluj 888 (15 months ago)
Worth a quick visit if you have time. If you don’t, it’s not that important to see. Nice, small museum with a short 10 min movie. Also, the entrance is free.
Ann McGuinness (16 months ago)
Fascinating, informative and loads of amazing archival material. The building itself is spectacular, an imposing one designed to impress. Don't miss the audio visual presentation. It tells the story of its chequered history over more than one hundred years.
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