In 1987, UNESCO declared the monumental complex formed by the Cathedral and Giralda, the General Archive of the Indies and the Royal Alcázar a World Heritage Site. The complex is not only remarkable for its historical significance, but also for the reflection in its architecture of the evolution of the city, particularly during its three most glorious periods: Moorish, Christian Reconquista and 16th-century colonial.
Thus, the declaration of the World Heritage Site in Seville highlights not only the importance of the structures’ architecture in itself, but also how that architecture reflects the historical context in which each structure was built.
Considered from this angle, the Seville Cathedral is remarkable for the perfectly harmonious coexistence of formal Gothic (Christian) and Almohad (Moorish) elements. The Giralda, the Almohad minaret with Renaissance-style belfry, is perhaps the best example of this.
Similarly, the Royal Alcázar offers one of the most remarkable examples of the Mudéjar style which originated during the Christian Reconquista, but which is characterized by an intense borrowing of Moorish forms and structures. With palaces of Christian Monarchs sumptuously decorated in an older Moorish style, the Royal Alcázar demonstrates the phenomenon of transculturation like no other.
Finally, and with respect to the values which World Heritage Sites stand for, the General Archive of the Indies is particularly special; for, not only does the structure’s design represent the height of the Spanish Renaissance, itself a reflection of Seville at its commercial zenith, but the structure is also home to the most important collection of documents minutely detailing the route to the Indies, the conquest of the New World and, again, the intercultural relations that developed as a result of these transatlantic voyages.
Twenty-five years later, there is no doubt that the declaration of the World Heritage Site has contributed to Seville’s international reputation. It has become the emblem of Seville’s culture and history and a brand that can be exported around the world.