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The mythological founder of the city is Hercules (Heracles), commonly identified with the Phoenician god Melqart, who the myth says sailed through the Strait of Gibraltar to the Atlantic, and founded trading posts at the current sites of Cádiz and of Seville.The town was called Spal or Ispal by the Tartessians, the indigenous pre-Roman Iberian people of Tartessos, who controlled the Guadalquivir Valley at the time. Hispalis developed into one of the great market and industrial centres of Hispania, while the nearby Roman city of Italica (present-day Santiponce, birthplace of the Roman emperors Trajan and Hadrian) remained a typically Roman residential city.
After conquering Jaén and Córdoba, he seized the villages surrounding the city, Carmona Lora del Rio and Alcalá del Rio, and kept a standing army in the vicinity, the siege lasting for fifteen months.
The decisive action took place in May 1248 when Ramon Bonifaz sailed up the Guadalquivir and severed the Triana bridge that made the provisioning of the city from the farms of the Aljarafe possible. The city's development continued after the Castilian conquest in 1248.
Legend states that the title was given by King Alfonso X, who was resident in the city's Alcázar and supported by the citizens when his son, later Sancho IV of Castille, tried to usurp the throne from him.
The emblem is present on the municipal flag and features on city property such as manhole covers, and Christopher Columbus's tomb in the Cathedral. The passage of the various civilisations instrumental in its growth has left the city with a distinct personality, and a large and well-preserved historical centre.
The Moorish urban influences continued and are present in contemporary Seville, for instance in the custom of decorating with herbaje and small fountains the courtyards of the houses.
However, most buildings of the Moorish aesthetic actually belong to the Mudéjar style of Islamic art, developed under Christian rule and inspired by the Arabic style.After the discovery of the Americas, Seville became one of the economic centres of the Spanish Empire as its port monopolised the trans-oceanic trade and the Casa de Contratación (House of Trade) wielded its power, opening a Golden Age of arts and literature.In 1519, Ferdinand Magellan departed from Seville for the first circumnavigation of the Earth.After the 1391 Pogrom, believed to having been instigated by the Archdeacon Ferrant Martinez, all the synagogues in Seville were converted to churches (renamed Santa María la Blanca, San Bartolome, Santa Cruz, and Convento Madre de Dios).The Jewish quarter's land and shops (sited in modern-day 'Barrio Santa Cruz') were appropriated by the church.Public buildings were constructed including churches, many of which were built in the Mudéjar style, and the Seville Cathedral, built during the 15th century with Gothic architecture.The Moors' Palace became the Castilian royal residence, and during Pedro I's rule it was replaced by the Alcázar (the upper levels are still used by the Royal Family as the official Seville residence).Original Moorish buildings are the Patio del Yeso in the Alcázar, the city walls, and the main section of the Giralda, bell tower of the Seville Cathedral.In 1247, the Christian King Ferdinand III of Castile and Leon began the conquest of Andalusia.Its Old Town, with an area of 4 square kilometres (2 sq mi), contains three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Alcázar palace complex, the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies.The Seville harbour, located about 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the Atlantic Ocean, is the only river port in Spain.