The “Casa de Contratación” has probably been the most important institution that Seville has ever had, although unfortunately we do not have the building anymore. It was created in 1503, to promote and regulate trade with America. This institution was given the monopoly to negotiate with America.
The choice of Seville as the first headquarters of the Casa de Contratación for 214 years was not by chance. Huelva had bad communications by land with the rest of Spain. Cádiz was practically an island city, it was underdeveloped at the time and was also unsafe due to its great exposure to the sea. On the other hand, the navigation of the ships to Seville was relatively easy going up the Guadalquivir, and it was also a city that could defend itself well against enemy attacks. The choice of Seville as a city with a monopoly on trade with the Indies made it possible for, around 1540, Seville to become the world’s largest financial center. Seville was also, since the 13th century, a commercial and financial center of great importance that channeled the commercial flows that came from North Africa, receiving part of the gold from Sudan that went out to the Mediterranean, trading with Italian squares and with the North Atlantic.
Seville lost to Cádiz that monopoly in 1717, so it was decided to move the Casa de Contratación to that city.
If you want to learn more about the interesting past of our city, don’t miss our Free Walking Tours in Seville.