Seville’s history is magnificently twisted between being conquered and rising defiantly. It’s thought that the city dates back to Hercules when he divided the land between Seville and Gibraltar. Who knows if that’s true (I doubt it) but it provides an excellent backdrop for all other Sevillian tales.
The Real Alcazar
Real Alcazar is the Royal Palace of Seville. It is the most representative monumental compound of Spain (not just Seville) with the historical evolution of the country held within its walls and gardens which are ASTRONOMICAL IN SIZE. The palace retains seven hectares of gardens and seventeen thousand square meters of buildings.
The palace represents amalgamating influences starting from the Arabic period, late Middle Ages Mudéjar right through to the Renaissance, Baroque and the XIX century and is renowned as one of the most beautiful palaces in Spain for good reasons. It is also said to be the most visited complex in the world!
The queues are always long (unless you pay to skip it which is grossly expensive) but it is well worth the wait of about twenty to thirty minutes and in my opinion, this is the most beautiful palace and gardens I’ve ever been to. It totally captivated our attention and we spent about three hours there.
An adult ticket costs 9.50 €, with student (ages 17 – 25) & pensioner tickets costing 2 € and entrance for the disabled, under 16´s and those born or residing in the city of Seville, free of charge !
Listening devices cost an extra 5€ and our kids really love these. I find them awkward and difficult to concentrate on but the kids adore them and learn so much!
A bit of history
Soon after the Almohades gained control of Seville in 1161 they constructed a number of baths, towers, a grand mosque and a fortress-like palace known as the Al-Muwarak (the Blessed).
In 1364, after the Reconquista (the reconquest of Moorish Spain by Christians), King Pedro I commissioned the construction of a new palace, the Palacio Pedro I, on the site of the Al-Muwarak.
The magnificent interior was created in the Mudéjar style arranged around patios and gardens. Proceeding monarchs expanded the palace resulting in a complex and diverse range of architectural styles.
The upper levels of the Alcázar are still used by the royal family as the official Seville residence. It is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe and was registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The whole of the outer primitive enclosure, much of it outside the complex visited, preserves the almost intact perimeter walls. I didn’t take a photo of those so here’s an inner wall instead!
Patio del Yeso
The Patio del Yeso preserves part of the exterior aspect of the Almohad period. It has a quadrangular plant with a central pool. The north arcade composes of three horseshoe arches on central columns.
Patio de la Montería
The Patio de la Montería is named after the hunters that accompanied the monarch in his hunting parties and dates to the Almohad period.
It has a trapezoidal floor with the Palace of Peter of Castile in front of it, a low portico with a gallery from the 16th century to the right and behind it is the Patio of the Casa de Contratación.
Patio de las Doncellas
The name, meaning “The Courtyard of the Maidens”, refers to the legend that the Moors demanded 100 virgins every year as tribute from Christian kingdoms in Iberia.
The lower level of the Patio was built for King Peter I and includes inscriptions describing Peter as a “sultan”.
The crucero courtyard is an 18th century gallery and my favourite part of the palace! With it’s bright colours and lines of symmetry it was rewarding to photograph. Below the courtyard are the baths of Dona Maria and when looking through the drains, it’s possible to see the water below.
I can’t remember anything about the Gothic palace other than it lead to a room with tapestries hung on the walls.
High ceiling and nice paint colour. I can’t really remember much about the Gothic chapel either!
Los Baños de Doña María de Padilla
The “Baths of Lady María de Padilla” are rainwater tanks beneath the Patio del Crucero. María de Padilla, the mistress of Peter the Cruel, King of Castile and León from 1350 to 1369, who according to legend, bathed in it.
The baths have a central swimming pool covered with a nave of ten sections of ribbed vault flanked by two side aisles.
Mercury Pond – Estanque de Mercurio
The pond is presided over by the figure of the god Mercury, designed in 1576. The railings have shields with lions at their corners and 18 balls with pyramidal finials surrounding the pond.
The backdrop is the “Gallery of the Grotesque,” which was constructed on an old Almohad wall. In 1612 further contributions and a change in decoration were made by Vermondo Resta.
This was our favourite pond due to carpe fish which some idiots were feeding with cheerios (cereal) and sweeties!
All the palaces of Al Andalus had garden orchards with fruit trees, horticultural produce and a wide variety of fragrant flowers. Water is ever present in the form of irrigation channels, runnels, jets, ponds and pools.
The gardens adjoining the Alcázar of Seville have undergone many changes. In the 16th century during the reign of Philip III the Italian designer Vermondo Resta introduced the Italian Mannerist style.
We loved the gardens and spent the most amount of time here. They were exquisite and full of animals, birds, insects and flowers.
I am unsure when the maze was added to the garden, probably this century. We had great fun trying to get to the centre!
I have no idea what this room is, I suspect it was possibly the stables but I forgot to look.