15e eeuw
27 huizen

Zodra je de deuren van Hotel Las Casas de la Juderia door gaat, word je ondergedompeld in een deel van Sevilla dat bij velen nog onbekend is. De 27 huizen uit de oude 15e eeuwse Joodse wijk worden met elkaar verbonden door binnentuinen en straatjes. Een kleine stad in miniatuurvorm, met veel grote planten en antiek. Je zult zeker ervaren dat de geschiedenis om je heen is en voelbaar is.


(tekst nog niet beschikbaar in Nederlands)
The Hotel "Las Casas de la Judería" is located in la Judería or Jewish Quarter. It is one of the neighbourhoods of Seville which most faithfully conserves the appearance of a city which, in the words of Brother Tomás de Mercado, "transformed from the appendix of Europe into the centre of the world". A major contribution to this conservation is the work carried out by the Duke of Segorbe over the last 30 years to adapt this former mansion for use as a hotel. It is a never-ending labour which continues to this day, and which has seen a progressive expansion of the original nucleus of the hotel. Comfort has undoubtedly been one of the objectives of this restoration process. However, the over-riding objective has always been to reveal the history of the city by carefully respecting the pre-existing architectural diversity, and this is what characterises the hotel. Using discrete combinations which respect the essence and intimacy of each space, we have managed to achieve a seductive blend of aristocratic and popular architecture.

As we are accustomed to describing the contemporary city by drawing parallels between architectural zones and socio-economic classes, we often forget that any historical zone, and the former Jewish quarter is no exception, is a projection of the complex and varying social relations of the time. The Santa Cruz quarter was re-invented at the beginning of the twentieth century to supposedly reflect typical Andalusian architecture as envisaged by the romantic travellers of the time. The Jewish Quarter, on the other hand, has conserved the designs it has gradually acquired during modern and mediaeval times, and even prior to this. These designs reveal a society which in the same space juxtaposed socio-economic and socio-legal hierarchies with other forms of social integration such as lineage, clientele, and corporations. All of this was at the same time framed by a clear religious dimension in which neighbourhood– today we would say citizenship – was reserved for christians, with other religions being subject to special conditions.

One such religion was the Jewish community. The Jewish Quarter in Seville was situated in an area of around 16 hectares next to the Alcázar, segregated from the rest of the city by a wall the remains of which can still be seen today in Calle Fabiola (Fabiola Street). Following the streets today named Mateos Gago, Fabiola, Madre de Dios, San José, Conde de Ibarra, Plaza de las Mercedarias, Vidrio, and Armenta, it joined the Almohad wall – which also served as an aqueduct– with that of the Alcazar. It seems there were no Jews in the Seville which surrendered to the troops of King Fernando III in 1248. But soon, under Royal protection, the Seville community became the second most important in the kingdom after Toledo, with around 400 families. Moreover, it was the home to key figures of local history, such as the almojarifes (Treasurers) of the Kings of Castille; Calle Levies is named after Samuel Leví, Treasurer of King Pedro, and his nephew Yuçaf Leví, Treasurer to the King´s step-brother, Enrique II. However, this splendour lasted little more than a century, for in 1391 the people of Seville, enraged by the preachings of the archdeacon of Écija, Ferran Martínez, sacked the Jewish Quarter, stealing and killing as they went.

The former Jewish Quarter never recovered its splendour. Only a few scattered families remained, concentrated near the Alcazar or even in its interior, in el Corral de Jerez, seeking Royal protection, or in Calle Verde, under the wing of the powerful Zúñiga Family. This situation persisted until the expulsion order of 1483 for the Kingdom of Seville and the 1492 order for the entire kingdom of Castille. According to their terms, all those who refused immediate conversion were obliged to leave for lands of the Ottoman Empire, mainly Thessalonika and Constantinople, where communities were established which mirrored the legal-administrative structure of the Jewish Quarters of Spain. While Hebrew was the official language, Medieval Castillian Spanish was predominant in the teaching, justice and religious system, even the literature. As a homage to this historic period we have named the house marked on the map with the letter "M", House of Mose Bahari, being the only house in the complex of which we know the name of its Jewish owner.

Afterwards, the currently existing parrishes of Santa María de las Nieves ("St Mary of the Snows")–commonly known as La Blanca, or "the White" – San Bartolomé Nuevo and Santa Cruz were established in an attempt to repopulate the zone with christians. The Church of Santa María la Blanca was consecrated in 1391 on the site of the former synagogue which King Alfonso X donated to the Jews in 1253. The current building, with its Gothic doorway and Mudejar structure, was reformed various times throughout the 17th century, as a consequence of the donations made by the canon Justino de Neve, –who was also the benefactor of Hospital de los Venerables. The baptismal and sacramental chapels were constructed in this time, as were the vaults of the nave decorated with icons which can be seen today. The main chapel itself was also reformed. The Temple of San Bartolomé is also built on the site of a former synagogue. Its current design is the work of the architect José Echamorro between the 18th and 19th centuries. The Hotel las Casas de la Judería is situated between San Bartolomé and Santa María la Blanca, with the street named Santa María la Blanca acting as a natural barrier separating it from the Santa Cruz Quarter. This street, which was the arterial route of the Jewish Quarter, opens out onto the square of the same name which, being the only large open space, was also the social epicentre of the community.

Seville, perhaps more than any other Spanish city, also reflects in its urban landscape the history of the much vaster realm to which it was incorporated; Castille. This Kingdom transformed suddenly into an Empire at the beginning of the 16th century, while at the beginning of the 19th century it was almost unable to convert itself into a nation. This political process of extension and contraction from kingdom to empire and empire to nation, in which Seville played an important role, profoundly affected Seville society and, as a consequence, the urban landscape.

Following Columbus' discoveries, Seville became the metropolis uniting the Old World with the New World. The first Indians to visit Europe were housed in Santa María la Blanca, in one of the houses of the Duke of Béjar, which perhaps gives an indication of the importance of the city's new role for this part of the city. Furthermore, the city experimented a double process of growth and transformation. Growth in a vertical sense, with the integration of the former medieval soberados or attics, and also horizontally, with the establishment of poor districts outside the city walls and in the adarves or dead end streets which were so numerous in the medieval city – represented and conserved in the hotel complex in the spaces named Small Patios of the Adarve, Lost Adarve and House of the Adarve well– or traversing the street with "coverings". In the words of Antonio Domínguez Ortiz these spaces, which are now public, were then conceived as a kind of “res nullius” which everyone tried to claim as their own.
On the other hand, there was also transformation. The city opened out to the world, bringing new ways of conceiving the division of public and private social space. This saw the erection of doorways, reformation of patios and construction of façades. Islamic architecture, which sought to conceal the wealth of interior architecture from unwanted eyes, was replaced by new models - still prevalent in the present day– which, on the contrary, sought to demonstrate the owner's wealth and position. The current façade of Casa de Pilatos, constructed by the Marquis of Tarifa, dates from this period. Many others followed, in a process dominated by the upper class but not exclusively. In 1547, the chronicler Pero Mexía commented that “In the last ten years more windows and window-grills have been installed than in the previous thirty” .Town orders of the time also reflect the situation, with a medieval law of 1632 stating: “It is not well-seen to expose a man's house to other's eyes, and to this end, if any person should wish to put a window so that the light may enter and near that house there are others […] it should be of such a size that one may not pass their head through it”. The sombre walls of the Dominican Convent of the Mother of God, founded in 1472 and located in Calle San José, give a good indication of what the medieval city must have been like. On the other hand, the current façade of the Palace of Altamira, superimposed over the original medieval construction by the Duke of Béjar, is a good example of the contrary model previously mentioned.

This palace, separated from our Hotel by the alley named Dos Hermanas, has its origins in the houses which King Enrique III donated to the High Justice of Castille, Diego López de Zúñiga, Lord of Béjar, following the assault of the Jewish Quarter in 1391. These houses were undoubtedly impressive as they belonged to Yuçaf Pichón, one of the Treasurers of Enrique II. Over the top of these houses Diego raised a Mudejar structure which is now virtually hidden by the works carried out in the 17th and 18th centuries, reformation works over the 19th century to adapt it for housing, and finally the unfortunate rehabilitation by the Andalusian Regional Council for its use as one of the headquarters of the Ministry of Culture. The palace, which had a beautiful Renaissance garden which we only know from the plans conserved in the nobility section of the National Archive, passed from the Duke of Béjar to a secondary branch of this House, the Marquis of Villamanrique. This Marquis was also related to the House of Altamira, and he was consequently known by this name. The palace marked on the plan with the letter "C", named Palace of the Zúñigas also belonged to the Zuñiga Family.Today it is the site of the hotel reception and the piano bar, giving the latter its name, Marquis of Villamanrique Saloon.

Another family whose presence dates from the period of the reconquest is the Padilla Family, former owners of the area marked "L" on the plan which today serves as the Porter's Office. In their memory, here you will find the Palace, Garden and Small Patio of the Padillas. These important but relatively small families, which had grown wealthy through military services to the Crown and gold from the reconquest and civil wars in the Middle Ages, began to leave Seville to establish themselves in the Royal Court. The reason for this was either to take advantage of the privileges associated with royalty, in a process which the monarchical absolutism of the 17th century accelerated, or simply by marriage to higher class residents of Madrid. The social and even physical space left behind was progressively filled by an ancient nobility of lesser rank, or some other source, whether national or foreign, though usually related to the wealth generated by commerce with the Indies. Such is the case of the Pedrosa Family, which bought from Felipe IV the Lordship of Dos Hermanas, later elevated to the status of Marquis by Carlos II. The area named Casa Grande del Callejón (Large House of the alley) belonged to this family. This space now bears their surname, although previously it was named Calle del Arquillo, after the arch which joins the Palace of the Duke of Béjar –today of Altamira– with the house we have named House of the Juror after Francisco de Medina, who occupied this position in the Council in the mid-16th century and was mainly responsible for the supplies for the city.

Francisco de Medina was not the only member of the Council who lived in the area of the hotel complex. From the registers of the 18th century we know that the house marked "J" was the home of a "Twenty-four" gentleman, the name given to the councillors of Sevilla, hence its name, House of the Twenty-four. Although the Kingdom of Seville was represented in the Royal Court by two adminstrators elected from amongst the councillors and jurors, they were not especially powerful, but were rather a kind of middle government comparable with the lower nobility. This was because these positions were sold by the Monarchy in the 17th century to cover its financial needs, causing inflation and eventual disinterest in the same on the part of the large families historically charged with the government of the city.

Another key aspect of the social changes in Seville during the 16th and 17th century was the large number of immigrants who were drawn to Seville, both from Spain and the rest of Europe. Two groups stand out in this influx: firstly, the large number of poor people who came from various places, but in particular the poorest areas of France (Cantal, Limousin, etc.), to work in the most humble positions (waterseller, street seller, etc). People in this category tended to live in neighbourhood communities based around a patio or 'corral', as represented in the Hotel by the space marked "6" on the plan named Corral of the Flowers. This corral corresponded to the Corral House, marked "D", and the Lady's House, which was subsequently transformed into a populous neighbourhood corral in the same way as almost all the other houses mentioned.
The second, smaller group of immigrants was also of a diverse origin, although the largest representation were the Genoans, such as the Mañara and Bucarelli Families (one of whose members was appointed Viceroy of Mexico). This second group came to do business in the Indies and bought or constructed magnificent mansions.

One of these is the Palace of Miguel de Mañara, an elegant example of the Civil Renaissance in Seville situated in Calle Levíes. This palace was bought at the beginning of the seventeenth century by his father Tomás de Mañara y Colonna, Indies Trader. Miguel de Mañara symbolises the mentality of Barroque Seville or the Contra-reformation, whose essential principle was the practice of charitable acts. Miguel de Mañara gave his entire fortune to the poor, for the construction of the Hospital de la Santa Caridad to attend the sick and the poor, and in various testamentary dispositions to the Church.
The presence of ecclesiastical institutions in the neighbourhood was already notable as they were the main beneficiaries of the expulsion of the Jews. However, this presence grew in the 17th and 18th centuries to reach extraordinary proportions. In terms of the hotel complex, we know from registers of the time - studied on behalf of the Duke of Segorbe to research the Hotel and the surrounding neighbourhood - that the Church owned the House of the Chapter with its Patio and Small Patio, the House of the Carthusians, the House of the Convent of the Mother of God and the House of the convent of Santa Clara, along with others which we have preferred to name differently for other reasons.

These same registers reveal that at the end of the 18th century the house marked "P" belonged to a group of music teachers, hence its name, House of the Musicians and the house marked "N" named House of the Scribe was, as its name suggests, inhabited by a scribe.

The difficulties of navigation in the Guadalquivir and the pressure of large foreign traders provoked a transfer of the Indies Trade to Cadiz. The local economy, which had suffered since the mid 17th century due to the catastrophic effects of the plague of 1649, experienced a slow decline into decadence and "agriculturalisation" which was completed with the loss of the American colonies in the first part of the 19th century. According to the registers it is evident that the neighbourhood corrals, previously occupied by a mix of various professions and origins, began to be filled with predominantly working-class persons towards the end of the 18th century. In the 19th century there were hardly any of the small tradesmen common in earlier years, such as those established in the House of the Watchmaker or the House of the Carver. The House and Patio of the Bovines are an example of this process; in the not so distant past, cows roamed in the houses that previously belonged to the Church of Santa Caridad.
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