The archives were created in 1785 at the request of King Charles III in order to centralize in a single place the documentation relating to the Spanish overseas territories, which until then had been dispersed in several archives: Simancas, Cadiz and Seville.
The project was led by José de Gálvez y Gallardo, Secretary of India, and its execution was in charge of the academic and historian Juan Bautista Muñoz, a great Indian cosmographer. Juan de Minjares and Alonso de Vandelviva were the builders of the building.
There are two fundamental reasons for founding the General Archives of India. On the one hand, the lack of space in the General Archive of Simancas, the central archive of the Spanish Crown. On the other hand, in the spirit of the Enlightenment, the desire to write a history of Spanish conquest and colonization that responds to the foreign writings that have dealt with the subject.
In October 1785, the first documents began to reach the Archives. Since then, and in various transfers of funds, the funds of the main institutions linked to India have been incorporated until the Archives became the main documentary repository for the study of the Spanish administration in the New World and the Philippines.
Important fact: at the time of the constitution of the archives, the year 1760 was considered as the date of division between the administrative date and the historical date, so that the documents prior to this date had to be sent to the Indian Archives, leaving the documentation after this date to the service of the organizations that had produced the documents.
The General Archive of India is located in the Casa Lonja building, near the Avenida de la Constitución and the Alcázar next to the Cathedral of Seville.
It is a two-storey square building with a large central courtyard d´une, which combines red bricks and stone elements on the outside, a combination that will be followed in the construction of different Sevillian buildings.
Inside is the central courtyard, built in stone and large proportions, with arches attached to the pillars with half columns.
Behind the windows of the courtyard there are large galleries. Those on the upper floor are covered with vaults decorated with cassettes and geometric reliefs, very typical of the Renaissance and sober, of great decorative value, separated by semicircular arches.
The current main staircase of the building, designed by Lucas Cintora, is distinguished by its construction at the end of the 18th century and its decoration with marble sheets. A lantern dome opens into the staircase.
The quality of the building is evidenced by the marbles with covered surfaces, marbles of different colours, sculpted with decorative shapes on the walls and surfaces of the stairs, cut and precisely combined in the ground of the different rooms and areas in which the galleries are divided.
On the sides of the galleries are high shelves carved in noble wood, raised above the ground on a continuous bench of red marble, which are made for archival purposes, where a large number of valuable documents are kept.
These archives have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO with the Cathedral and Reales Alcázares of Seville. Currently the Archive of the Indies of Seville is the most important archive that exists on the exercise of Spain in America and the Philippines. They contain information on the political and social, financial, religious, artistic and geographical past of the territories. C´est a very valuable information and reason qu´ils have become a World Heritage Site.
Address: Avda. de la Constitution, s / n
Tlfno: 954211234 – 954500528
Research hours: Monday to Friday 8:30 a 15 h.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 10:00 a 16:00 h. Sunday 10:00 a 14:00 h.
Website: Archives of the Indies of Seville