Real Alcázar

Real Alcázar (22)

The Alcázar, along with La Giralda, is the most important Muslim legacy in Seville.

It isn’t just a single palace, but rather a set of palaces, the fruit of successive remodelling that has taken place over the years, turning it into the widest variety of styles, materials and influences to be found in Seville. Islamic, Mudehar, gothic, renaissance... a amazingly rich array of styles.

The Arabs arrived in 712 and settled in the Andalusian capital. In this same spot, they built many different enclosures for a variety of purposes, including housing Arab leaders. 

The first palace was built at the request of Abderraman III in the 10th century and was called the Governor’s Palace. Only the outside of the walls of this structure that encircle the Patio de Banderas remain. 

The Alcázar or Palacio de las Bendiciones was added in the 11th century, and a century later the Almohades added courtyards and palaces. Sadly, the only part of the original Almohade structure that remains is the Patio del Yeso and a piece of the wall.

After the Reconquest in 1248, Ferdinand III lived here. Other monarchs followed, including Alfonso X the Wise and Alfonso XI, who built the large gothic salons and the Sala de la Justicia, respectively.

However, it was Peter I who, in 1364, ordered a royal residence to be built within the Almohade palaces. This king had a special fondness for Seville and chose it as the capital of his kingdom. He was interested in Islamic arts and customs, which is why he chose this architectural style. Two years later, the best artisans of Granada and Toledo completed a marvellous palace that, crucially, became the first for a Castilian king not protected behind the walls and defences of a castle. The Capilla Gótica was also built, along with the apeadero, the Patio de la Montería and the Grutescos in the gardens. Currently, the Palacio de Pedro I [Palace of Peter I] is considered the most complete example of Mudejar architecture in Spain. In fact, the building’s lovely façade is one of the must-see features of any visit.

Also of note is the fact that the upper floor of this palace is used as a residence for the kings and heads of state when they visit the city.

Inside, the space is divided into two separate areas: the official district and the private quarters. The official district includes the Patio de las Doncellas, a space decorated by the best artists in Granada. The private area has the Patio de las Muñecas, which was the domestic heart of the palace, and gets its name from the small faces that decorate one of the arches. These two areas cross paths in the Salón de los Embajadores, covered by an opulent dome created in 1427, carved from cedar, richly detailed and decorated in gold. 

Another important element of this fantastic renaissance-style complex is the Casa de la Contratación, a house built in 1503, given that after the discovery of America, Seville turned into one of the most important ports in Europe. And it is where, it is said, Queen Isabella, the Catholic, drew up the plans of the most celebrated explorers of the age, including Magellan’s first trip around the world. 

Various remodelling projects also took place as a result of the marriage between Charles V and the Princess Isabella of Portugal, which was held at the Alcázar on 11 March, 1526.

But one of the most impressive areas worthy of praise at Real Alcázar are the terraced gardens, with their fountains and pavilions. Of tremendous historical value, they reflect the varying landscaping styles developed during each period. You will marvel at species originating from all corners of the planet, more than 170 spread over more than 60 000 square metres. Don’t miss the Orange Grove, the Gran Estanque, the jardín de la Danza and the baths of Doña María de Padilla. Also visit Neptune’s Fountain in the Jardines del Príncipe, as well as the Pabellón de Charles V, which has the most beautiful coffered ceiling of the entire Alcázar complex. 

Before you go, stop by the Patio de Banderas, where the flags fly when a king is in the palace. 

Take your time, enjoy every detail of one of the most beautiful architectural complexes in the world. Since 1988, this building has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Plus, if you happen to visit during the summer, you should keep in mind that at that time of year, in addition to enjoying the architectural beauty of this place, you can attend one of the evening concerts that are held in the beautiful gardens. 

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