Santiponce Itálica

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Archive of the Indies

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In Seville and built under the reign of Philip II, the building of the General Archive of the Indies was conceived by Juan de Herrera to be used as a commodities exchange. Finished in 1646, several prestigious architects were in charge of the works, such as Juan de Minjares, Alonso de Vandelvira and Miguel de Zumárraga, who altered some of the ideas of the original project by introducing innovative elements in its construction, such as the vaulting of the upper floor, to lighten the usual Herrerian solution of a gabled roof, which was heavier and presented a greater risk of fire.

Charles III, through the architectural intervention of Luca Cintora, adapted it to the General Archive of the Indies and thus centralised in it the documentation related to Spain's overseas possessions between the 15th and 19th centuries.

With a square floor plan, 56 metres on each side and two heights on a slab surrounded by columns with chains, the Archive building basically consists of a central courtyard surrounded by two quadrangular naves, one inside and one outside. The entire building is made of stone, with two vaulted floors connected by a monumental staircase.

The General Archive of the Indies is one of the most important documentary centres related to the discovery and conquest of the New World. It contains the copy that Christopher Columbus consulted and wrote down from Abraham Zacuto's Perpetual Almanac, which allowed him to calculate latitudes. Abraham Zacuto was one of the most influential scientists, he improved the astrolabe and published the Perpetual Almanac which was very useful for the navigators of the 15th century. There are also the account books of the convert Luis de Santángel, who was decidedly the protector and partial financier of the Columbian journey.
 

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