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New York, New York
July 11, 2003
An interesting history of uses for the tower have followed since its Moorish glory days. Among them, use as a chapel, prison, gun powder supply and port office. Today it is the site of a small maritime museum featuring maps, paintings and antiques. Even if you are not into maritime history, I strongly recommend visiting the museum. The little cannon balls alone are worth the trip and you'll learn a lot!
From journal Cultural Crossroads in Spain's Andalucia
January 9, 2003
The Almohads had constructed this twelve-sided chess piece of a tower in 1220. At that time, the structure was a physical extension of the fortifications of the Alcazar. Gold tiles formerly coated the exterior of the tower, which was later utilized as a storehouse for the valuable hordes of gold dragged back from the New World by the great explorers. Nowadays, only the yellow dome on top has the golden hue, although its name still seems appropriate because of the light-colored exterior of the tower.
The Torre del Oro now contains the quaint Museo Nautico, with a few displays of old naval artifacts, historic maps, and illustrations. Climb up a bit to get a view down the Guadalquivir River. Not a defensive tower anymore, the structure is now just fine as a landmark along the popular promenade beside the river.
Not far, but hidden from obvious view, is the accompanying Torre de la Plata (Silver Tower). It was formerly connected to the Torre del Oro by an underwater series of chains and mechanisms as a means to protect the city. The Torre de la Plata can barely be seen nowadays, as another building at Calle Santander and Calle Temprado has almost swallowed it all up. One must wander into a graffiti-laden alleyway for a decent view of this hidden historic tower.
From journal Bill in Spain - SEVILLA
August 17, 2002
Generations and centuries of building, earth moving and natural infilling have changed the appearance of the river and the city. Now a controlled channel with concrete walls, docks and stairways, the river once was wild with a tendency to flash flood. As the population of Sevilla increased, people built outward from the walls of the Alcazar in every direction. During centuries of turmoil, the sites nearer the Alcazar (the Barrio de Santa Cruz for example) were believed to be safer from both flood and violence. Location next to the palace walls didn't save the Jews.
When you look at the old exposed castle walls, you often look down at them. How? Well, it is the building up of the ground the city rests on. How many feet up? Well, it would not be unreasonable to say 15 to 20 feet over the centuries. As with all other civilizations, the nature of the way we live causes infill. Just think of all that is tossed away! As they are building the new underground parking to the east of the Torre del Oro, much of history is being discovered. As with the Big Dig in Boston, the archeologists wait for the news of new findings. So, you say, the Alcazar has not been elevated. True, but is always was out of the flood plain.
Open short hours only 1000 to 1400. Closed on Sunday and Monday. No charge on Tuesdays to EU members. Fee for all others. Not accessible.
I found a substantial remnant of the castle wall behind an office building on a facing corner. Testing my husband's nerves, I walked through a passage left open in the office building (look for the brass murals on the outside of the building that depict the naval history of the river.) out on to an observation deck that allows you to get a good look at the old walls. Obviously lit for night viewing, it is an impressive site. By peering through iron grills it is also possible to see more of the ruin to the east. As he was muttering something about 'this is a great place to get mugged', he pulled me away from this site. At least I got to see it for 5 minutes.
From journal I Adore Sevilla! (Seville)
July 24, 2001
From journal Magic Seville