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.References:
The first historical record of Lednice locality dates from 1222. At that time there stood a Gothic fort with courtyard, which was lent by Czech King Václav I to Austrian nobleman Sigfried Sirotek in 1249.
At the end of the 13th century the Liechtensteins, originally from Styria, became holders of all of Lednice and of nearby Mikulov. They gradually acquired land on both sides of the Moravian-Austrian border. Members of the family most often found fame in military service, during the Renaissance they expanded their estates through economic activity. From the middle of the 15th century members of the family occupied the highest offices in the land. However, the family’s position in Moravia really changed under the brothers Karel, Maximilian, and Gundakar of Liechtenstein. Through marriage Karel and Maximilian acquired the great wealth of the old Moravian dynasty of the Černohorskýs of Boskovice. At that time the brothers, like their father and grandfather, were Lutheran, but they soon converted to Catholicism, thus preparing the ground for their rise in politics. Particularly Karel, who served at the court of Emperor Rudolf II, became hetman of Moravia in 1608, and was later raised to princely status by King Matyas II and awarded the Duchy of Opava.
During the revolt of the Czech nobility he stood on the side of the Habsburgs, and took part in the Battle of White Mountain. After the uprising was defeated in 1620 he systematically acquired property confiscated from some of the rebels, and the Liechtensteins became the wealthiest family in Moravia, rising in status above the Žerotíns. Their enormous land holdings brought them great profits, and eventually allowed them to carry out their grandious building projects here in Lednice.
In the 16th century it was probably Hartmann II of Liechtenstein who had the old medieval water castle torn down and replaced with a Renaissance chateau. At the end of the 17th century the chateau was torn down and a Baroque palace was built, with an extensive formal garden, and a massive riding hall designed by Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach that still stands in almost unaltered form.
In the mid-18th century the chateau was again renovated, and in 1815 its front tracts that had been part of the Baroque chateau were removed.
The chateau as it looks today dates from 1846-1858, when Prince Alois II decided that Vienna was not suitable for entertaining in the summer, and had Lednice rebuilt into a summer palace in the spirit of English Gothic. The hall on the ground floor would serve to entertain the European aristocracy at sumptuous banquets, and was furnished with carved wood ceilings, wooden panelling, and select furniture, surpassing anything of its kind in Europe.