The silhouette of the Cathedral of La Seu Vella of Lleida has shown for centuries the character of the historical city. The majestic building that today is erected on the modern city hides a great many significant messages by means of different numerical codes for those who can decipher them.

Text: Jaume Cluet
Pictures: Josep Mª Roselló

The hill where La Seu of Lleida is built has been par excellence the settlement of all periods and generations that have created the history of the city. It established the core that gave rise to the present-day city centre together with the River Segre. The waters of the river, which are born in the Pyrenees, flow hardly some kilometres down into the basin of the River Ebro that crosses the Iberian peninsula.

The history of the city goes back to the first period when the Iberian peoples ruled over a large part of the peninsula. The Ilergetes settled here and they recognized themselves as sons of ilargi (the moon). In this place it was founded the mythical Iltirta (il/moon, tir/wolf) of the leaders Indibil and Mandonio, who put up a strong resistance to the Roman Conquest.

Later one of the great military episodes of the history took place in its vast plains. It was about the Roman Civil War against Pompeius’ troops where Julius Caesar took part in and emerged triumphant. This war happened fifty years before our era in the Battle of Ilerda. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the city was occupied by the Suebi and the Visigoths. They built a primitive cathedral where the celebration of the ecumenical council took place in the year 546.

The Arabs gave the name of Lerita or Lareda to Lleida from the year 714 and they built the magnificent fortress of La Suda or the Moorish alcazaba. In the middle of the Christian Reconquest in 1149, the troops of the Count of Barcelona, Raymond Berengar IV, and the Count of Urgell, Armengol VI, liberated the city with the help of the monk-warriors of the Order of the Temple. This fertile Christian period let the building of the present-day Seu Vella from the year 1203.

The decline of La Seu began in the 18th century because Philip V converted it into army barracks for military requirements. It caused a complete readjustment of this historical place and the movement of the religious worship far away from the historical hill. Only when it was declared artistic heritage in 1918, it began a slow process of restoration that was recently finished.

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