If something has given Seville fame, it has been world trade. All, in large part, to the Guadalquivir River, the only navigable river in all of Spain and used throughout history as an inland port. And one of these businesses that was so important in the history of the Sevillian city is the exchange of tobacco.
In the eighteenth century Seville was mired in a great economic and social crisis preceded by the effects of the great epidemic of black plague suffered in the seventeenth century that killed half the population. That caused great havoc in the Sevillian society and helped the decay of the monopoly of trade with America. In addition, what has already finished Seville was the War of Succession. This war between two royal families, between the Habsburgs and the Bourbons, caused that, with the Bourbon victory, the main ports of Spain for American trade were opened and the House of Trades, the neuralgic center of Spanish-American relations, was transferred to Cádiz in 1714. All these events caused a great economic crisis and a large population loss.
In the midst of all this convulsive period, Seville was looking for a new place to house all that tobacco arrived from America. In Seville, tobacco was commercialized and produced from shortly before the mid-seventeenth century by various buildings in the city, but over time the State decided to monopolize the production of this product and with it the buildings where it was produced. The first cigar factory in Seville was located in what is now the Plaza de San Pedro, but that building had several drawbacks: it had little security; it was inside the walls and the arrival of the merchandise became very complicated; the organization was scarce. So to solve it, a larger lot was sought near the port of Seville for better access to tobacco brought from Cuba in its majority, but also from Virginia, now the United States.
The ideal place for the construction of the new tobacco factory in Seville was found outside the walls, on the banks of the Tagarete stream, close to the Sevillian port and bordered by the former School of Sailors of Seville, now the San Telmo Palace, and the former Convent of San Diego, where today is the Exhibition Casino of 1929.
This tobacco factory became the largest civil building in Europe during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and exported tobacco to the entire European continent. So much that 97% of the tobacco that had by all Europe came from Seville. In the factory at the beginning, only men worked because of the hard and forced work of turning tobacco into dust. But at the beginning of the 19th century, in 1813, women joined the labor world of the cigar factory, because tobacco was in fashion all over Europe and women were ideal for these jobs for various reasons: first, because women , in general, they have smaller and thinner hands than men, making it easier to bundle tobacco and cigarettes; in addition, because women were more permissive when accepting a job of many hours and for less money. Most of these women were gypsies from the neighborhood of Triana and the workers were up to 6,000 in the Sevillian Tobacco Factory, better known as the Tabacalera.
But at the end of the 19th century, when Spain lost the American colonies with Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines, Seville lost its monopoly on production and the factory ceased to be important. In addition, the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were convulsed by the introduction of machinery and created labor conflicts and economic losses in the factory. And it was such that until 1942 the building was transferred to the University of Seville and the tobacco factory moved to the Guadalquivir River margin of the Los Remedios neighborhood. But in 2007 its activity ceased and it was the end for the production of tobacco in the city of Seville.
The building of the Old Tobacco Factory remains the property of the University and is used as a Rector's Office and also houses various faculties such as the Faculty of History, Geography, Art History, Anthropology and all the Philologies. The Royal Tobacco Factory can be seen and its schedule is:
Free visits without previous appointment to the Rectorate Building:
Monday to Thursday, at 11:00 (except August). Meeting point: access lobby to the Institutional Relations Area.
Visit by appointment to the Rectorate Building:
Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 h. and from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 h.
The visit lasts approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes and it is visited: The Auditorium, Gallery of Rectors, New Pavilion, Central Courtyards, Faculties of Philology and Geography and History, the Library, the Art Court, the Old Prison , the Main Chapel and the Chapel. In addition, the price of admission is free.
It is a great industrial work of the eighteenth century, so if you want to know more and see it in person join us in our free tours of the Historic Center of Seville. Every morning at 10:00 in Plaza Nueva to visit Seville in the most comfortable and entertaining way.
Sevilla Free Tours
What to do in Seville
Real Fábrica de Tábacos opening hours
Sevilla Free Tours
Desde 2013, Sevilla Free Tours es la empresa líder de las visitas guiadas en la ciudad, más de 40.000 clientes han disfrutado de nuestras rutas, la gran mayoría de ellos repiten en nuestros diferentes tours guiados por la ciudad. Esto nos ha llevado a convertirnos en una empresa referente en la ciudad y la popularidad de nuestro trabajo nos ha llevado a la excelencia en Sevilla.