Name of Monument:

Golden Tower (Torre del Oro)

Location:

Seville, Spain

Date of Monument:

Hegira 617 / AD 1221

Period / Dynasty:

Almohad

Patron(s):

Abu-l-Ula, Almohad governor of Seville.

Description:

The new government's programme of public works, commencing after the Almohads captured the city of Seville from the Almoravids in AH 541 / AD 1147, left a great impression on the city.
In the first third of the AH 7th / AD 13th century, with the Almohads already in decline, the wall of the citadel, with a number of intermediary towers, was extended to the river, where a great defensive structure was erected: the Golden Tower. Its polygonal shape afforded a wide view and it was the most advanced part of the defensive system intended to protect the port, ensure river traffic and prevent access to the city from the river in the event of a siege.
Only the lower two of the three parts that make up the tower are from the Almohad period. The lantern on top of the higher part was built in the 18th century.
The lower part, with its adobe construction reinforced with sandstone ashlars in the corners, is 20.70 m high. The base is a 12-sided volume containing a hexagon that houses the staircase providing access to the three upper floors and the terrace. Each of the floors is covered with alternating triangular and square arris vaults. At the height of the terrace, the inner volume changes into a dodecagon to shape the subsequent part, 8.15 m high. Made of brick, it was solid, leaving only a cylindrical space to contain the spiral staircase that leads to the second terrace. Both terraces are finished with crenellated parapets.
The tower was unique in the peninsula in its use of glazed clay to decorate the outside surfaces. The spandrels of the blind arches are covered with ceramic tiles glazed white and green to form rhomboids, a theme that would later become widespread. According to a chronicle from the 17th century, the name of the tower derives from the golden tiles that covered it.
The vaults and the second part of the tower were seriously affected by an earthquake in 1755. In 1760, this part and the first floor of the lower part were filled in, and a third part was built: a lantern crowned by a semi-hemispheric cupola.

View Short Description

In order to protect the river port, and its traffic and to prevent access to the city via the Guadalquivir at times of siege, the Almohads extended the wall of the Seville citadel to the river and built a flanking tower into it. This tower was known as the ‘golden tower’ because of its covering of golden tiles, now lost. The unique 12-sided shape for which it is famous allowed for openings that facilitated its use as a watchtower. The uppermost part of the tower was added in the AH 12th / AD 18th century.

How Monument was dated:

According to the Rawd al-Qirtas of the chronologist Ibn Abi Zar, the tower was commissioned in AH 617 / AD 1221 by Abu-l-Ula, governor of Seville, who had already had other towers built in Tunisia.

Selected bibliography:

Casamar, M., “Almorávides y Almohades: Introducción”, in Al-Andalus: Las Artes Islámicas en España, Madrid, 1992, pp.81–3.
Torres Balbás, L., Arte Almohade, Arte Nazarí, Arte Mudéjar, Ars Hispaniae,Vol. IV, Madrid, 1949, pp.37–9.
Viguera Molins, M. J., “El último Siglo de la Sevilla Islámica: 1147–1248”, in Sevilla Almohade, Seville-Rabat, 1999.

Citation of this web page:

Margarita Sánchez Llorente "Golden Tower (Torre del Oro)" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. 2019. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;es;Mon01;10;en

Prepared by: Margarita Sánchez LlorenteMargarita Sánchez Llorente

Margarita Sánchez Llorente cursó estudios de Historia del Arte y Psicología en la facultad de Filosofía y Letras de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid, obteniendo la licenciatura en 1974.Tras realizar numerosos cursos de posgrado en museología y documentación del patrimonio histórico-artístico y arqueológico, le fueron concedidas varias becas de investigación en museística. De 1989 a 2000 trabajó en el Museo Arqueológico Nacional, en la gestión y documentación de los proyectos de la Unión Europea: EMN (European Museum Network), RAMA (Remote Access to Museum Archives) y –como colaboradora del departamento de Antigüedades Egipcias y del Próximo Oriente– Champollion. Ha participado en numerosos coloquios y encuentros internacionales y publicado varios artículos sobre las nuevas tecnologías aplicadas a la documentación en los museos.

Copyedited by: Rosalía AllerRosalía Aller

Rosalía Aller Maisonnave, licenciada en Letras (Universidad Católica del Uruguay), y en Filología Hispánica y magíster en Gestión Cultural de Música, Teatro y Danza (Universidad Complutense de Madrid), ha obtenido becas de la Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional y la Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia de Madrid, así como el Diplôme de Langue Française (Alliance Française), el Certificate of Proficiency in English (University of Cambridge) y el Certificado Superior en inglés y francés (Escuela Oficial de Idiomas de Madrid). Profesora de Estética de la Poesía y Teoría Literaria en la Universidad Católica del Uruguay, actualmente es docente de Lengua Castellana y Literatura en institutos de Enseñanza Secundaria y formación del profesorado en Madrid. Desde 1983, ha realizado traducción y edición de textos en Automated Training Systems, Applied Learning International, Videobanco Formación y El Derecho Editores. Integra el equipo de Museo Sin Fronteras desde 1999 y ha colaborado en la revisión de los catálogos de “El Arte Islámico en el Mediterráneo”. Así mismo, ha realizado publicaciones sobre temas literarios y didácticos, ha dictado conferencias y ha participado en recitales poéticos.

Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: SP 12

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