The Archbishop's Palace occupies most of the block delimited by the Virgen de los Reyes square to the south, Don Remondo street to the east, Segovias to the north and Placentines and Alemanes to the west. He is one of the great strangers in spite of his enclave in the old helmet of Seville, next to the cathedral, the giralda and the real alcazars, this building is for the majority a fantastic outside Baroque that seldom visits and only partially. It is a building that must be valued from three points of view, real estate, the artistic heritage it contains and cultural legacy since it houses one of the best ecclesiastical archives.
The building is located on the southern edge of the ancient acropolis, on the site it occupies there was a thermal complex from the Roman era and some Almohad houses.
The Archbishop's Palace of Seville is a monument of the first order, which is linked as few to the history of the city since the days of the Christian Reconquest. In the year 1251, Ferdinand the 3th the Saint donated to Bishop Don Remondo, then owner of Segovia and shortly after the Seville headquarters, some houses in the square of Santa Maria.
No remains of the original palace remain, since the oldest belong to the construction process that developed in the second half of the sixteenth century, in the time of Archbishop Don Rodrigo de Castro, who initiated the transformation of the ancient archiepiscopal houses in a single set unitary, process that continued at the beginning of the 17th century, directing the works the Milanese Vermondo Resta, diocesan architect. At this time the current physiognomy of the Palace was configured around its two main courtyards.
The care and sensitivity that they have shown is always evident in the constant conservation and embellishment works that the different bishops have done there. In the stones, roof and halls of the current building are archaeological testimonies of those carried out by the Archbishop Don Gonzalo de Mena (1395-1400), and successively of those made at the end of the 15th century, and those of the Archbishop Don Diego de Deza (1505-1523), and then Cardinal Muñoz de Guevara.
In the second half of the seventeenth century, Archbishop Patiño began the definitive enlargement of the Archbishop's Palace in Seville and ordered the construction of the magnificent baroque staircase, executed by Fray Manuel Ramos.
The facades date back to the beginning of the 18th century, and are enriched by the two great portals, the work of the architect Lorenzo Fernández de Iglesias, his only important documented work, commissioned by Archbishop Arias, whose coat of arms highlights under the central balcony.
A few years ago, Cardinal Pedro Segura y Sáez ordered and financed important consolidation and restoration works in the palace.
Exceptionally in the nineteenth century the palace was General Command during the French occupation and occasional housing of the Dukes of Montpensier upon their arrival in the city. In 1810 it served as accommodation to Marshal Soult and his officers, recovering the palace the new archbishop Mon and Velarde in November 1816. Regarding Antonio de Orleáns and María Luisa Fernanda de Borbón, dukes of Montpensier, they stayed in this building in 1848, while the palace under the Royal Alcázares was enabled.
The building is distributed around two main courtyards and other minor gardens in the back, has as baroque elements of the first order the monumental staircase, the facades and the two covers; the main one truly majestic.
The two main courtyards mark a North-South axis from the main facade and are separated by a central gallery at the end of which the main staircase is located. Both courtyards show in their walls a bichrome plaster that will be characteristic of the Sevillian baroque, based on ocher and almagra. In the Southwest corner, next to the first patio that we found when entering the building, another small patio opened that served as a halt. All three are from the time when Vermondo Resta, architect who directed the palace works.
The first patio is located to the South, presenting an almost square plant with three bodies in height, which in principle were two. Their elevations are equal two to two. The North and South facades are organized on the basis of a superposition of Tuscan pilasters and arches on the ground floor, while on the East and West fronts the pilasters are eliminated, with windows on the ground floor and balconies on the upper floor.
In a vertex on the right side of this patio there is a staircase that currently gives access to several diocesan offices. This must have been done under the direction of Pedro Sánchez Falconete and presents different levels that descend on thin Genoese columns and covered by a vault decorated with plasterwork.
The second patio, to the North, is larger, sesquiláteral proportion and two plants. In its centre stands an octagonal fountain of 1647 and executed in white marble that is topped with a sculptural group of Hercules and the lion. It has windows on the ground floor, balconies on the top and Mannerist covers on the East and West fronts decorated with corbels, lugs and cards.
The central gallery that separates the two patios presents paired columns of Tuscan order and pillars, covered with vaults and wooden beams. The main staircase is located here, it is one shot, three sections and rectangular box, executed in polychrome marbles among which red stands out. The start is done on two levels of columns covered with elliptical vault on pendentives. Ceuta with jasper balusters reinforced by small pillars topped with spheres. It seems that it was designed by Pedro Sánchez Falconete and renewed at the end of the 17th century by Fray Manuel Ramos, being a capital testimony of his time. The staircase is covered by a semicircular dome with pendentives, covered by wall paintings attributed to Juan Espinal.
Inside the Palace, the best preserved part is that destined for prelate dwellings, since the rest of the building has been transformed to house administrative offices.
Of all the dependencies of the Archbishop's Palace, the chapel stands out in the courtyard, and in the second patio, located to the north, the Santo Tomás Room, the Main Hall, the Throne Room, the Prelate Gallery, the hall that precedes the oratory and the Oratory.
The Chapel was built in the mid-seventeenth century and was renovated between 1779 and 1780 under the direction of Antonio Figueroa. It is located on the upper floor, on the north front of the patio of the halt. It is rectangular with a single nave, with five sections, a semicircular apse oriented to the west and covered with a barrel vault with lunettes. As for the decoration, we find a neoclassical frieze, five altarpieces and the shield of Bishop Spínola on the vault.
In the eastern bay of the second patio are the Santo Tomás Hall, on the ground floor, and the Main Hall on the second floor, both built around 1604. They are two long halls with a rectangular floor plan, measuring 32 by 6, 30 meters The first one has wooden beams and has undergone several renovations, currently used as a room for temporary exhibitions. Much more important is the Main Hall. It has the most richly painted ceiling of all Sevillian palaces, constituting one of the most important pictorial sets of the 18th century. It is a collection of 60 oil paintings on canvas by authors such as Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Juan de Zamora and Juan de Espinal.
The Throne Room is located in the front bay of Don Remondo Street and is accessed through the Main Hall. It was built in the third quarter of the eighteenth century, intervening José Álvarez, Antonio Figueroa and Francisco del Valle, the latter was responsible for the carpentry of its roof and decoration.
The gallery of the Prelate is located in the North wing of the second courtyard, at right angles to the Main Hall. It has a ceiling decorated with paintings from around 1604.
The beforeoratory and the Oratory are two contiguous pieces located to axis with the gallery of the Prelate. They have east-west orientation and are accessed through the Throne Room. The Beforeoratory is rectangular, measuring 9 by 6.30 meters and its ceiling is decorated with oil paintings on canvas. The Oratory is oriented presceptively towards the East. It is a small chamber with an almost square floor plan, with an esviaje in the front part of the façade. It measures approximately four meters on each side and is covered by a spherical dome on pendentives profusely decorated with baroque plasterwork. Both pieces had to be projected by Pedro Sánchez Falconete.
The elevation of the facades is landscape, a building that tends to the horizontal, and of two floors of height with facing avitolad, rises on a socle, and is modulated by pilasters between which open the openings, presenting on the ground floor They are windows and balconies on the upper floor. Both plants are separated by a running entablature, on the cornice open the balconies of the upper floor in line with the lower windows. The cornice is decorated with dentellons and on the roof of tiles there are garrets. The windows are decorated with moldings with lugs and cards, which are placed on them, and the balconies are protected with dust covers.
On the main façade there are eleven openings on each floor, leaving the front and the main balcony shifted to the right, as the building experienced an extension towards the Southwest. The west façade is more harmonious and symmetrical with six bays on each floor, in addition to those that serve as the main front and balcony.
The plinth is made of white stone, the walls are made of brick, the door and window surrounds, the pilasters and the stonework friezes and the slate overalls.
This building is the first baroque Sevillian that uses this mixed technique of stone and bricks, which gives the façade a two-tone hue by plastering the bricks in colour almagre and combine them with the yellowish-coloured stone martellas.
The main portal, located on the South face, was executed between 1703 and 1705 by the master stonemason Lorenzo Fernández Iglesias. It is one of the most monumental of the Sevillian Baroque and served as a reference to the San Telmo Palace. It is organized into two bodies, the lower one being paired Corinthian columns located on a different plane from the façade. These are raised on a plinth and finished off in a block of entablature. Their shafts have the lower third richly carved, decorating the upper part with garlands with fruits. The opening of the door is of half a point and is decorated with a thick molding, almost cylindrical, with lugs. In its key there is a relief with a cover and on it the shield of Archbishop Arias is carved. Separate the two bodies of the cover a curved and broken pediment. At the ends, at the height of the balcony there are two statues of angels tenants that carry separate blazons. The second body is structured from a vault architrabado molding with lugs, flanked by pilasters and decorated profusely decorated with plant, fruit and geometric elements, topped on corbels on which runs a entablature whose cornice is curved in the centre to accommodate the vain from the balcony. Finally the set is topped by a pedestal with the cross between two jars with lilies, flanked in turn by two flamers. The cover was completed in 1705 by the Sevillian master stonemason Juan Antonio Blanco, on drawings by Diego Antonio Díaz.
The lateral cover of the palace, also of two bodies, repeats in the upper floor the same scheme as the previous one, with a mixed-pediment pediment on pilasters, in which the corbels act as the capital. Only the decoration that is very simple here varies. This was concluded after the main one and should have been projected by Pedro Romero.
Fuente: bdi del Patrimonio Inmueble de Andalucía (Junta de Andalucía)