The Archivo de Indias (the General Archive of the Indies) is an archive containing some of the most important historical records of the history of the Spanish Empire in the Americas and the Philippines. It covers more than three centuries of history.
In 1987, the Archivo de Indias was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located on Avenida de la Constitución, close to the other two World Heritage Sites in Sevilla, the Cathedral and the Alcazar. Although it is not as well-known as the Cathedral and the Alcazar, it is nevertheless well worth a visit.
The building dates back to 1572. Originally it was the Market House of Seville (Lonja de Mercaderes).
It was converted to the General Archive of the Indies in 1785 when King Carlos III decided to keep all documents relating to the Indies there.
The building floor plan is square, 56×56 metres. The whole building is built of stone and has a very interesting brick and stone façade. It comprises a large central courtyard with ornate arches over pilasters, and two vaulted floors, which are connected by a spectacular marble main staircase.
- The Archivo de Indias is the largest archive in Spain about Spanish history in America and the Philippines.
- It contains over 43,000 files (over 80 million pages) and 8,000 maps.
- The shelves add up to over 9 kilometres in length.
- The inner main staircase dating from the eighteenth century and therefore was added years after its construction.
- The Archive of the Indies is so-called because Christopher Columbus was convinced when he left for America in 1942, that he was going to the Indies.
Exhibitions at Archivo de Indias
The General Archive of the Indies stages frequent exhibitions. At the time of my visit, there was an exhibition of the epic voyage taken 500 years ago by Magellan and Elcano; the first voyage to circle the planet.
The exhibition uses audio-visual material, models, sculptures and other objects, to convey the history recorded in the documents and the challenges faced on this epic voyage. One hundred and six documents and pieces of information convey the facts of the journey, begun by Ferdinand Magellan in 1519 and concluded three years later, in 1522, by Juan Sebastián Elcano on the Victoria.
You can see more photographs of Archivo de Indias, including photos from the exhibition, by visiting my photo album.
Address: Edificio de La Lonja, Avenida de la Constitución 3, 41071 Sevilla.
Admission is free.