Exploring the Legacy of the Spanish Inquisition: The Castle of San Jorge

The rich history of Spain is filled with remarkable tales, some celebrated and others shrouded in darkness. Among the darkest chapters in Spanish history is the infamous Spanish Inquisition, a period marked by religious persecution and fear. One of the key sites associated with this dark era is the Castle of San Jorge in Seville, a place that witnessed the sufferings inflicted upon hundreds of individuals. In this blog post, we will delve into the historical significance of this castle, tracing its origins from an Almohad necropolis to its role as the seat of the Tribunal of the Inquisition. Join us on a journey through time as we reflect upon the more negative aspects of the history of Spain.

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The Almohad Necropolis: Long before the Castle of San Jorge stood tall, the site was originally an Almohad necropolis dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries. Located in the quarter of Triana, this burial ground held immense historical and cultural value. Excavations revealed 229 graves, but it is believed that the necropolis contained over 1,000 bodies. The simple graves were oriented towards the southwest, with the bodies placed in a flexed position, and the head facing east—towards Mecca—a customary practice in the Muslim religion. The discovery of numerous vases emphasized the importance of water in Muslim funerary rites.

The Emergence of the Castle: As Christian troops advanced southward, a fortress was constructed on the grounds of the cemetery around 1220/1230. This stronghold aimed to protect the city of Seville. Following the conquest of Seville by Fernando III in 1248, the castle was granted to the Order of the Knights of Saint George. The site included a chapel, which served as the original Parish Church of Triana before becoming a shrine after the construction of the Parish Church of Santa Ana in 1276. Throughout its existence, the castle witnessed numerous conflicts, such as the feuds between the supporters of King Enrique IV and those of his brother, Prince Don Alfonso.

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The Reign of the Spanish Inquisition: In 1481, the Castle of San Jorge took on a new role when the Catholic Monarchs ceded it to the Tribunal of the Holy Inquisition. The Tribunal, established to maintain religious orthodoxy in Spain, used the castle as its headquarters for three centuries. Controlled by both the Crown and the Church, the Inquisition initially targeted Jews who had allegedly converted to Christianity but continued to practice their faith. Over time, the scope expanded to include the persecution of Protestants and anyone deemed to deviate from Catholic beliefs. The Castle of San Jorge became an emblematic symbol of the Spanish Inquisition throughout Europe, synonymous with imprisonment, and religious oppression.

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Post-Inquisition Era and Demolition: In 1785, due to frequent flooding of the Guadalquivir river, the Tribunal of the Inquisition relocated to the former Jesuit school of Las Becas, where it remained until its eventual disappearance between 1800 and 1803. Following the departure of the Tribunal, the Castle of San Jorge was granted to the city, but unfortunately, the council opted to demolish the castle and level the site. The area was subsequently repurposed as a granary until 1822 when the Municipal Market of Triana was constructed. In the years that followed, the southern end of the site was annexed to build the Isabel II bridge (Triana bridge). The market continued to function until 1990 when it was demolished to make way for the current market, leading to the discovery of the castle.

To learn more and visit the Castle archeological site, contact us and book your tour! Don't forget that with your Alcazar tickets, you get a discount to enter this museum!

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