18 April 2012
Seville – The Royal Alcazar: a Moorish Palace for Christian Kings
Los Reales Alcazares, commonly known as the Alcazar Palace, is definitely one of Seville’s most impressive monuments. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, was originally built in the 12th century during the rule of the Almohades, and consists of a series of palaces from different times and styles, with gardens, halls, orchards and rooms decorated with glazed tile from Seville. Don’t miss it when visiting the city!
The Alcazar of Seville, dating back to the Muslim period, is one of the most important examples of Mudejar architecture in Seville; its construction was ordered by Abd Al Ramn III in the year 913.
After the Christian reconquest of the city, in 1364, the palace was rebuilt by the Christian ruler Pedro, and later other monarchs added their own influences to the Alcázar resulting in a structure with combined elements of Mudéjar, Gothic, Baroque and many other architectural styles. This is why, after centuries of constant constructive evolution, the Alcazar stands out as a fascinating blend of Muslim and Christian elements, which thing makes it one of the most interesting architectonic arrangements in the world.
The palace can be entered from the Plaza del Triunfo through the eye-catching Puerta del León, decorated with an azulejo (ceramic tilework) depiction of a heraldic lion. Ahead, you will encounter the Patio de la Montería, where the court met before hunting expeditions.
Inside the original palace of King Pedro, don’t miss the Patio de las Doncellas (Courtyard of the Maidens): legend has it that the Moors demanded 100 virgins every year as a tribute from Christian kingdoms in Iberia. However, history tells this was the place where the ladies (doncellas) spent much of their time, and also the center of public life in the palace of Pedro I. From this patio branch out several other courtyards, halls and galleries, which would be impossible to describe in a few words. You just have to see them all! From the magnificent gold-gilded dome of the Salon de Embajadores, to the Gothic Salones de Carlos V – decorated with tapestries and coloured tiles from 16th Century, up to the Cuarto del Admirante (Hall of the Admirals), where seafarers and navigators planned their journeys to the Americas.
A visit to the Royal Alcazar also allows entry into the Royal Gardens. These lovely gardens are perfect to spend a pleasing afternoon in good company, especially in spring and during the summer months.
Even the Royal Gardens are laid out in a number of diverse styles, including French, Italian and Arab. Jardin Inglés, for example, is modeled on the typical gardens of the British Isles from the 18th century; Jardin de los Poetas – Garden of the Poets, features two ponds that were inspired by the Arabs and Romans. Jardin de la Vega Inclan – is inspired by the Islamic culture and the Renaissance.
The opening times of the Royal Alcazar are: Mon – Sun: 09:30 – 19:00. It is closed only on Jan 1st and 6th, Good Friday and December 25th.
Photo by eschipul