The Real Alcázar was the first sight I visited in Seville, and definitely the most impressive. As a former student of Islamic Studies I was especially intrigued by the Arab-influenced parts of the building, and I was not disappointed by the incredible details in the architecture and the calligraphy. To me the entire Alcázar is proof of the beauty that can come out of mixing and combining different cultural influences. In fact, its beauty almost moved me to tears.
The gardens are spectacular, and even in March, when it is not too warm, you can appreciate how the natural "air conditioning" must work wonders in the heat of summer.
Maybe, in a way, it was a mistake to see this first, because nothing else could come close to the beauty of the Real Alcázar.
The Alcazar of Seville was originally a fortress built by the Moors as early as 913. Over time it has been adapted as a residential palace by the various rulers that have lived here and the roles and functions that these rulers have carried out. Even today it is considered the oldest active palace in Europe.
Originally, Seville played second fiddle to Cordoba, the center of the Moorish state in Spain. Later though, Seville became the main city under the Moslems. In 1254 Alfonso of Castille (the Wise) ordered construction of a gothic palace. In the 1300's Pedro (the Cruel) had the palace expanded in the Mudejar style, using Moslem artisans from Seville, Cordoba and Granada. Remember of course that Seville became the center of the Spanish empire following the discovery and colonization of the Americas, and with that came the dramatic expansion in wealth, and consequent expansion of the palace as well. Interestingly, the only major addition the Habsburgs made was the beautiful gardens.
Even today the upper floors are reserved for the use of the Royal Family and are to be made available to them whenever they are in town. I was visiting on one of those days and I guess due to security the hours were limited.
The Alcazar is well worth spending a couple of hours visiting. While some may argue that is not as spectacular as the Alhambra and Mezquita it is a beautiful site that has rich architectural detail.
I have broken down my trip to the Alcazar into five different pages; this introduction, the Admiral's Apartments, the King's Palace, Gothic Wing, and the Gardens.
The Alcazar was constructed beginning in the 11th century on the oldest archaeological remains in what was once part of the Islamic town. Over the ensuing 900 plus years portions of the Alcazar have been transformed into nearly every architectural style imaginable as different owners have gone for a style that they felt best both represented and met their needs. Portions of the Alcazar have been constructed in Baroque, Neo-Classical, Gothic, Renaissance, Mannerist, Taifa, Almohal, and Mudejar styles. Many of those architectural patterns are still represented their today. It makes for striking contrasts and what remains today represents a blending of styles over that 900 plus year period.
We chose to visit the Alcazar on a Sunday afternoon. There was a line but it moved quickly and within twenty minutes we were let inside. The cost of tickets has recently risen to 8 euros a person although seniors above age 65 or members of the European Economic Community are given reduced rates.
The Alcazar is open from 9:30 to 19:00 daily between April and September and the rest of the year is open from 9:30 to 17:00.
Seville's Reales Alcazares is the city's main example of non-religious architecture.
The Alcazar has been the home of Muslim and Christian royalty for many centuries which means it has a real mismatch of styles which adds to its fascination.
Entrance is through the Leon Gate, or Puerta Del Leon which is set below 3 magnificent watchtowers. Noteworthy is the Maiden's Court which is a great example of Mudejar courts in Spanish architecture. The most important rooms are the Ambassadors' Hall and the bedroom of the Moorish Kings. The gardens are well worth spending time in, they are a mix of Arab, Mudejar and Renaissance design with glorious fountains and spouts.
Also of note, is the General Archives of the Indies (the exchange). This dates from the 16th century and contains the most important documents concerning the discovery and conquest of the Americas.
The whole thing will take hours to explore and you will leave amazed by the grand architectures, designs and lavish interiors of many of the rooms. In my opinion it easily rivals the Alhambra in Granada. Come and see for yourself.
Surrounded by the cathedral, the Alcazar and the Royal Archives of India, this wide square is the main hub of all touristy movements in Seville.
It has an image of the Virgin in the centre, but its name comes from a small monument close to the archives.
The palace is one of the best remaining examples of mudéjar architecture. Well worth a look.
The royal family still use the upper floors as their official Seville Residence.
The gardens here are wonderful as well.
I've travelled to Seville in the end of January, 2008. This time of year we have very cold, freezing days in Lithuania, but what I experience in the Alcazar is hard to describe in words. Some places of that palace looked like they were a very successful work of an artist - old moorish architecture, water fountains and the beauty of southern nature (palm trees, orange, tangerine and lemon trees, flowers) left a very strong impression on me.
The Alcazar is the ancient Royal Palace of the rulers of Spain since the Roman era, approximately 913. It is still in use today when the King visits Seville.
Beautifully carved inside with magnificent ceramic tiles it is also a fortress, forming part the ancient city walls. Excellent Mudejar architecture from some of the older renovations required following earthquakes.
Strongly reminiscent of Al Hambra.
A visit here can take a couple of hours at least. Very worthwhile taking time to visit all of the rooms and the gardens with their lovely fountains.
If they are open (depends on if in use by the Royal family) do visit the Royal Apartments.
Fabulous - even worth the extra payment for the guided tour.
See map and description here: http://www.sevillaonline.es/english/seville-city-centre/alcazar-palace.htm
The Alcazar is a royal palace originally built as a Moorish fort and later enlarged by the Christian kings. The Alcazar is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Sevilla, mainly as it is one of the best examples of mudéjar architecture, a style applied under Christian rule in Spain but using Islamic architectural influence.
There are various palaces (both mudejar style and gothic style) and some fantastic gardens!
Entrance fee is 7 € (2008) and be sure to bring plenty of time!!!
At the Plaza del Triunfo is the entrance to the ROYAL ALCAZAR and.....take care that you have plenty of time because this is a huge complex of interesting buildings and gardens....
This place is one of the oldest royal residences in Europe!
This same location has been occupied by e series of defferent buildings, such as a Roman Acropolis, a Paleochristian Basilica, a Moorish Castle and the first Moorish Fortress of the 9th Century.
Pedro I built the MUDEJAR PALACE, a mixture of Gothic elements with MUDEJAR plaster and coffer work.
Especially interesting are:
the patio de la Monteria (Hunting Patio)
the patio de las Doncellas (Maidens Patio)
the patio Salon de los Embajadores (Embassador's Hall with its huge golden cupola of the mid 15th Century.
Next to the Mudejar Palace stands the Palace of Carlos V, adjacent to the Jardines del Alcazar (the gardens).
When you have enjoyed it all, including the thousands of doves living there!, you leave the Alcazar into the Patio de Banderas (Patio of the Flags).
There is a nice cafee / restaurant where you can sit down for a while after walking through the gardens.....
For more photographs: go to my TRAVELOGUE.....
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