The Architecture of Archives

A virtual tour of the buildings that house Andalusia's historical legacy

By Andalusian Archives

Archivos de Andalucía

Provincial Historical Archive of JaénAndalusian Archives

Tourists and travelers rarely visit these historical archives, and nor do the residents of the cities themselves. However, these buildings contain much of the history of Andalusia and its rulers, people, cultures, and customs, as well as the ways in which the community lived and survived.

But here, we're going to shift our focus from the incredible documentation held in the archives to the buildings that house these collections. These palaces, churches, and monasteries are all classified as sites of historical and artistic heritage. Come and see for yourselves.

Provincial Historical Archive of Almería

The palace of the Viscounts of Castillo de Almansa (Castle of Almansa), an 18th-century palatial residence.

Having been relocated several times, the Provincial Historical Archive of Almería unveiled its new home in the historic city center in 1990.

The palace of the Viscounts of Castillo de Almansa (dating from the late 18th century) is built in an unmistakable neoclassical style, while the House of Don Francisco Jover y Tovar (from 1894) is distinctly eclectic. The two form a single building, totaling over 32,000 square feet.

Archivo Histórico Provincial de Almería (2017-05-18/2017-05-18) by (Archivo Histórico Provincial de Almería)Andalusian Archives

The facade that can be seen from the Plaza Campomanes belongs to the former palace of the Viscounts of Castillo de Almansa, a title created in 1773 for the Almansa family of Almería. From the outside, the building appears to be split over two levels, but there are actually five floors: two below ground and three above.

The building features elements of popular baroque architecture mixed with other styles prescribed by the rigidity of the Academy of Fine Arts at the time.

Among the baroque elements are the irregularities in the distribution of the door and windows, as well as the overlap of some of the decorative details from one floor to another. There are also volutes, curved corbels on the side balconies, and a large family coat of arms on a broken pediment.

However, the arrangement of the facade as a whole is clearly rooted in academicism, emulating the typical features of a historicist 19th-century house. It is perfectly framed by angular stone blocks at each corner. A cornice clearly defines the floors, and all the openings are framed by architrave moldings.

Provincial Historical Archive of Cádiz

La Casa de las Cadenas (House of Chains) in Cádiz—a 17th-century mansion.

Provincial Historical Archive of CádizAndalusian Archives

On June 3, 1692, a Corpus Christi procession was passing by this house when the heavens opened. The owner of the building, a wealthy Portuguese merchant named Don Diego Barrios de la Rosa y Soto, went outside and invited the Bishop of Cádiz, Don José de Barcia y Zambrana, to shelter the Blessed Sacrament in his chapel until the weather improved.

Don Diego was so affected by this extraordinary visit—which he believed to be by divine intervention—that he devised a project to completely rebuild his house. He bought the two buildings either side, combining all three sites to construct the building that is still standing today.

Provincial Historical Archive of CádizAndalusian Archives

He installed a magnificent Carrara marble facade, created by the sculptor Jacobo Antonio Ponzanelli. For the frontispiece, he commissioned a stone tablet chronicling the events of the Corpus procession of 1692 in Latin.

To make the house even more distinctive, Don Diego requested the "privilege of the chains" from the King of Spain, placing columns linked by chains on the front of the building to indicate that the residents enjoyed judicial immunity.

Although the chains disappeared around 1730, this building is still known to locals as La Casa de las Cadenas.

Like many other houses belonging to Cádiz's merchants, it also has a lookout tower, from which you could see the ships arriving from America with their cargoes of gold and silver.

Provincial Historical Archive of CórdobaAndalusian Archives

Provincial Historical Archive of Córdoba

The Provincial Historical Archive of Córdoba is located in the former Church of Santo Domingo de Silos, and a house in the Andalusian baroque style.

Documentation Deposit - Provincial Historical Archive of CórdobaAndalusian Archives

Two buildings have been rebuilt and renovated for the Provincial Historical Archive of Córdoba: the first to house the documentary archives, and the second for the other departments.

The documentary archive sits in the former Church of Santo Domingo de Silos—one of 14 which Ferdinand III established when he regained control of the city. Like many other buildings in the province of Córdoba—where cities were built over existing ones—the church was built on the site of a Roman structure. An excavation in its basement revealed a mosaic of "The Four Seasons," dating from the late 4th or early 5th century. This is on display in the province's Archaeological Museum today.

The church still retains its original structure: three naves separated by pointed brick arches. Part of the original Mudejar coffered ceiling can still be seen in the central nave.

Provincial Historical Archive of CórdobaAndalusian Archives

The Chapel of Our Lady of the Conception, to one side of the church, links the two structures that make up the building. It was founded in 1397 by the steward Juan Pérez, the city's senior clerk. The chapel was named after the clerks who formed their association there and celebrated several festivities in it every year.

It is a rectangular funerary chapel made from stone, set in a regular brickwork pattern, on which the stonemasons' marks are still visible. Light enters through a loophole window opening into the interior, and a small oculus with double flaring. This chapel is thought to date from between the late 13th and early 14th centuries, and is one of the oldest examples of Cordovan art.

The Archive's second building is an Andalusian baroque-style house consisting of four floors, including a basement.

It has a square courtyard with three red Cabra marble columns supporting four arches and two balconies, with moldings on the east and south sides, and a single balcony to the north.

The intradoses of the arches are decorated with frescoes imitating marble voussoirs. The jambs, lintels, and moldings on the second-floor balconies of the courtyard's facade are also decorated in red, green, and gray. This way of decorating and embellishing facades, courtyards, and interior walls was once traditional in Córdoba.

Two small arches supporting the stairwell sit on top of a freestanding, black marble column with a renaissance-style base and capital. The second-floor balconies onto the courtyard, and the enclosure around the staircase, have windows made of leaded, diamond-shaped glass, which are typical of many Cordovan houses.

Provincial Historical Archive of JaénAndalusian Archives

Provincial Historical Archive of Jaén

This complex, comprising a former Dominican convent and its church, has been declared a Spanish Site of Cultural Interest. Located in the old city, today it is the home of the Provincial Historical Archive of Jaén.

The building that houses the current Provincial Historical Archive of Jaén was founded in 1382. It sits on the site of a Moorish palace that was owned by the governors or favorites of the "Cora" (a small territory in Muslim Spain) of Jaén.

Formerly the Royal Convent of Santo Domingo, the property was handed over to the Provincial Council during the "Spanish confiscation," when lands belonging to the Church were seized and sold. However, work to refurbish the building to accommodate the archive did not start until 1985.

Luis Berges Roldán was the man who created and led the project, which spans five floors and an area of over 76,000 square feet, 27,071 of which are used for storage.

The courtyard is undeniably the most impressive in Jaén. Square in shape, it is porticoed by a gallery of semicircular arches supported by paired columns, except in the corners, where they are grouped in threes on top of pedestals.

Although Tuscan in style, the arches are embellished with a thick convex molding to the back, and triangular spandrels with pointed diamond carvings.

A plain frieze runs above the arches, enclosed by a protruding cornice that separates the upper structure, which features alternating windows and balconies in line with the arches' vertical axis. They are framed by thick plant-inspired moldings in the corners, corbels with allegorical symbols on the window ledges, and plant-inspired panels on the balconies.

Coinciding with the central axis on each side, a large coat of arms sits above the keystone, cutting through the cornice and up to the balcony. These are the coats of arms of the Hapsburgs, the Dominican Order, Bishop Francisco de Vitoria of Tucumán (who championed and consecrated the church which adjoins the courtyard to the north in 1578), and Don Juan Cerezo.

The galleries surrounding the courtyard are covered by a half-barrel vault with lunettes, reinforced with transverse arches and an arched vault at the corners where two galleries meet.

Provincial Historical Archive of JaénAndalusian Archives

The building still retains most of its original structure, although it has undergone significant modifications over time.

The last major modification, to adapt the building for use as an archive, converted it into a space structured into three well-defined areas: a public area, an administration area, and a private area for archive storage, classification, and technical documentation management.

Provincial Historical Archive of MálagaAndalusian Archives

Provincial Historical Archive of Málaga

An archive in contemporary architecture with state-of-the-art facilities and equipment.

The building that houses the Provincial Historical Archive of Málaga was built on part of the site of the former Convento de La Trinidad (Convent of the Trinity), which gave its name to the neighborhood in which it is located.

The large space where the convent's gardens once were has been used to build the new archive. The old monastery is abandoned and awaiting a new project.

Provincial Historical Archive of MálagaAndalusian Archives

The current building is the work of architect Pedro Salmerón Escobar. It comprises two modules of different heights, divided lengthwise by a wide courtyard of lights, separating the freely accessible public zone from the restricted area. The archive itself occupies only part of the enormous complex and is surrounded by landscaped gardens and a spacious parking lot.

The archive boasts state-of-the-art facilities and equipment. It consists of a public area, including a consultation room and a conference room, separated by the courtyard from a staff-only area for the handling and managing of documents. The archive's storage spans over 18.5 miles of shelving, spread over four floors.

Provincial Historical Archive of SevilleAndalusian Archives

Provincial Historical Archive of Seville

A former courthouse, remodeled to house the Provincial Historical Archive of the city of Seville.

Provincial Historical Archive of SevilleAndalusian Archives

This archive is located in the historic city center, in a building constructed between 1895 and 1908 by the architects José Gallego y Díaz and José López. It was built on the site of the old corn exchange to house the courts of Seville and other municipal departments.

In the 1970s, the building was closed and left abandoned until 1982, when the renovation and remodeling works for the Provincial Historical Archive began. The project was designed by the architects Antonio Cruz and Antonio Ortiz, and was completed in 1987.

In terms of its architecture, the main facade has a neoclassical portico, while inside, the space is arranged around two porticoed courtyards with galleries, including an impressive marble staircase.

The total floor area is 45,617 square feet. It has 13 storage areas and can hold up to 33,465 linear feet of documentation. It is currently almost at capacity.

Real Chancillería of Granada ArchiveAndalusian Archives

Archive of the Royal Chancellery of Granada

This manor house was built in the first half of the 16th century by the Suárez de Toledo family, and today houses the Archive of the Royal Chancellery.

The Archive of the Royal Chancellery of Granada can be found in the house of Father Suárez, in the Realejo neighborhood of Granada. The house is a typical example of a 16th-century aristocratic residence in Granada.

Built around 1510, it belonged to Don Alonso de Toledo, lord of the house of Ajofrín, who accompanied the Catholic Monarchs in the conquest of Granada.

The current building was remodeled from the year 2000 by the architects Joaquín Valverde Bocanegra and Jorge Gómez García, and was opened in November 2005. The original layout was preserved, and a seven-floor storage unit attached to the house was built on the courtyards and gardens. The work and public service areas are distributed over the three floors of the house.

The total floor area is 28,673.6 square feet, of which 11,332.7 square feet make up the storage areas. Careful planning of the space has allowed for a storage capacity of 42,651 linear meters.

Real Chancillería of Granada ArchiveAndalusian Archives

The only feature of the original construction that has been preserved is the tower attached to the Casa de los Tiros Museum, which is effectively an independent structure.

At the base there is a linteled facade with molding, and Ionic pilasters with capitals. Above them is a full entablature and balcony framed by Corinthian pilasters. Plateresque plant-inspired decoration flanks the shaft. Above that is an opening decorated with molding, sharp points, and a large mask, followed by the tower with its triple arch.

Headquarters of the General Archive of Andalusia (1987-1992)Andalusian Archives

General archive of Andalusia

A high-tech building adapted for the main regional archive.

Headquarters of the General Archive of Andalusia (1987-1992)Andalusian Archives

The General Archive of Andalusia—temporarily housed until now in the offices of the Provincial Historical Archive of Seville—is to move into its permanent home in the “Pavilion of the Future," one of the most iconic buildings of the 1992 Universal Exhibition in Seville.

Its curved canopies, which give it a sense of movement, and its 118-foot high granite and metal arcades, have made it one of the most recognizable features of Seville's skyline.

Headquarters of the General Archive of Andalusia (1987-1992)Andalusian Archives

At the time of its construction, it was seen as an example of a modern, forward-looking building, and of high-tech architectural engineering, firmly rooted in the purest architectural tradition.

Its 250,000 square feet houses the most up-to-date equipment, suitable for performing its legal responsibilities in its role as the intermediate and historic archive for the government of the Autonomous Community of Andalusia.

Credits: Story

The Architecture of Archives

Organized by:
Ministry of Culture of the Regional Government of Andalusia

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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