Torre del Oro

Seville, Spain

The Torre del Oro ('Tower of Gold') is a dodecagonal military watchtower erected by the Almohad Caliphate in order to control access to Seville via the Guadalquivir river.

Constructed in the first third of the 13th century, the tower served as a prison during the Middle Ages. Its name comes from the golden shine it projected on the river, due to its building materials (a mixture of mortar, lime and pressed hay).

The tower is divided into three levels, the first level, dodecagonal, was built in 1220 by order of the Almohad governor of Seville, Abù l-Ulà; As for the second level, of only 8 meters, also dodecagonal, was built by Peter of Castile in the fourteenth century, a hypothesis that has been confirmed by archaeological studies; The third and uppermost being circular in shape was added after the previous third level, Almohad, was damaged by the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. Rebuilding of the third level was made by Brusselian military engineer Sebastian Van der Borcht in 1760.

The Torre de la Plata, an octagonal tower, is located nearby, and is believed to have been constructed during the same era.

The tower was badly damaged by the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, and the Marquis of Monte Real proposed demolishing it to widen the way for horse-drawn coaches and straighten access to the bridge of Triana; however, the people of Seville objected and appealed to the king, who intervened. In 1760, the damage was repaired, with repairs to the bottom floor of the tower, reinforcement with rubble and mortar, and the creation of a new main access via the passageway to the path around the wall. That same year, the upper cylindrical body was built, a work of the military engineer Sebastian Van der Borcht, also architect of the Royal Tobacco Factory of Seville. These works changed the appearance of the tower as compared to what is seen in engravings from the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries.

The Revolution of 1868 brought another crisis to the tower as revolutionaries demolished the decorative facing of the walls and put it up for sale. Opposition from the citizens of Seville kept the tower from being destroyed, and in 1900 it was again restored, this time by engineer Carlos Halcón. On April 10, 1923, King Alfonso XIII visited the tower, and on March 21, 1936 the Maritime Museum was installed in the Tower by order of the Admiralty. In September 1942, more restoration work began. The appearance of the facade was improved, two floors were set up for museum display, and the third floor was prepared to house researchers. The museum held its grand opening on July 24, 1944, for which occasion 400 museum pieces were brought from the Naval Museum of Madrid.

On August 13, 1992, the Torre del Oro was made a brother to the Tower of Belem of Lisbon to celebrate the Universal Exposition in Seville. As of 2008 the museum displayed a variety of old navigational instruments and models, as well as historical documents, engravings, and nautical charts, relating Seville to the Guadalquivir River and the sea. The tower was again restored in 2005.



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Founded: 13th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Spain

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User Reviews

Stuart Speer (2 years ago)
Took an ad hoc walk to this place during a 4 night stay in Seville. Hadn't read up too much about it beforehand, just saw reference in my guide book, so took things more at face value. Pleasantly surprised. Great location by the river and just after the Sun was rising. On entering realised it was a maritime museum full of interesting and important Spanish history. Some of the details and information are linked to my job so had a great connection too. Hadn't realised Spain had been a world leader in maritime (sailing, exploring and events) for some 200 years. Only knew of its importance in key wars and explorations. Interesting to learn the purpose and uses for this innocent looking building. You can go up inside the tower and see great views from the top. You are protected by clear screens stopping you going close to edge of, or sitting on ramparts. It doesn't spoil things as you can still see over, or climb the turret steps. Unable to go up inside the turret on top as locked.
Adrian Evers (2 years ago)
Beautiful tower and walk along the river. With an enriched history and beautiful location, it is an ideal sight to see and visit in the city of Sevilla. The architectural design of the tower is very visible from afar. A great sight.
Matthijs Keij (2 years ago)
Nice highlight for a short visit. When we visited the tower entrance was free, but you could leave a donation. Very friendly staff and a nice little museum halfway up the tower. Good views on the Giralda and cathedral, as well as over the river.
Tariq Lahyani (2 years ago)
Awesome views from the top, river on one side and the city on the other. If you're into history you'll enjoy the small but great museum inside which offers a lot of information about the history of the city and the navy. Entrance is actually free, but you can make a voluntary contribution if you wish. There was no wait to get in, but once at the top, you might have to wait a few minutes to walk up to the top of the stairs because everyone wants to do the same thing to take selfies ? ?
Martin Franz (2 years ago)
Lovely! Entrance is free. Also worth a visit if you are not into marine, (ancient) ships and history. Than just skip the exhibition and go to the top. Stunning view over Sevilla.
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