The Ayuntamiento, Seville’s historic town hall
Considered to be one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture in Spain, Seville’s Ayuntamiento or Town Hall, can be found in the city centre between the Plaza San Francisco and the Plaza Nueva, about five minutes walk from the Cathedral along the Avenida de la Constitución.
Until the end of the Middle Ages, the Cabildo (City Council) met in buildings in the Corral de los Olmos, now the Plaza de la Virgen de los Reyes behind the Cathedral, but as wealth flowed into the city following the discovery of America in 1492 the decision was taken to build a new town hall in the Plaza San Francisco, in front of the Franciscan monastery which then occupied the whole of what is now the Plaza Nueva and its adjacent streets and gave its name to the Plaza.
Work began in 1526 under the direction of the architect Diego de Riaño, and by 1556 the building was ready to hold the first meeting of the council in its new headquarters. This first stage of the building was limited to the southern end of what we see today, and is notable both for being built in stone (before this only the Cathedral had used stone, brick being the normal material), and its ornate plateresque decoration, including grotesques, symbols of justice, and representations of Hercules and Julius Caesar, regarded as the founders of the city. The arch at the end, with its Cervantes plaque, once gave access to the carriage yard of the monastery.
In 1840, already almost in ruins following occupation by the French during the Napoleonic wars, two fires, and the amortization of the monasteries, the Franciscan monastery was finally demolished, and the land passed into the ownership of the city. Three decades of planning, replanning, and lack-of-finance induced delays later, the Plaza Nueva came into being. As part of this development, the Town Hall was extended, and a new Neo-Classical facade added facing the new square. On the Plaza San Francisco side, the stonework of the extension was prepared for decorative carving in keeping with the older part of the building, but the work was never completed.
It’s now possible to see inside the building, including the Grand Staircase and the council chamber with its vaulted ceiling, with guided tours on Mondays to Thursdays starting at 4.30pm and 7.30pm and on Saturdays at 10.00am, price 4 euros (tours in Spanish only).
Just around the corner is our Plaza Nueva B apartment, a spacious one-bedroom flat with two terraces for up to four people.