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. This post is all about how we visited Real Alcazar with kids and what you can expect from visiting.
The Real Alcazar with kids, Seville
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 <- so make sure you pack some comfy shoes and a bottle of water.
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 so it’ll be busy.
Let’s talk about the queues: Real Alcazar with kids
The queues are always long (unless you pay to skip them. See below). We chose to swelter and wait in the line 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 but could have spent longer.
Top tip: get here first thing in the morning. Not only would you avoid the worst of the queues but you’d avoid some of the heat too.
How much does the entrance cost?
- Adult ticket 9.50 €
- Student (ages 17 – 25) & pensioner tickets 2 €
- Disabled, under 16´s and those born or residing in the city of Seville, free of charge!
Top Tip: Listening devices cost an extra 5€ and our kids really loved these. I find them awkward and difficult to concentrate on but the kids adore them and learn so much more than reading!
Alternatively, book your ticket in advance and skip the queue
A bit of history about Real Alcazar Seville
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.
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.
It was nice and cool in here and the kids, who love water of any description, were fascinated with the mini fountain and channels of water.
Top tip: collect flower petals off the grounds nearby and watch as they float off down the channels. You could even time it or have a ‘pooh sticks’ competition against one another. It’d keep them entertained for ages.
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.
Top tip: if it is not too hot here is to jump into each square whilst counting them. Like a glorified version of hop-scotch. Little kids can run and balance on the thick lines.
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 its bright colours and lines of symmetry it was rewarding to photograph.
Top Tips: Below the courtyard are the baths of Dona Maria and when looking through the drains, it’s possible to see the water below. We also played hide and seek behind the bushes and Marco Polo in the courtyard.
The Gothic Palace
The Gothic palace is not that interesting and it leads to a room with tapestries hung on the walls.
Top Tip: can your kids cross the room by only standing on the black tiles?
Los Baños de Doña María de Padilla
The “Baths of Lady María de Padilla” are rainwater tanks beneath the Patio del Crucero. It is legend that María de Padilla, the mistress of Peter the Cruel, King of Castile and León from 1350 to 1369, bathed here.
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 but we did spot some idiots who were feeding the fish with cheerios (sugar cereal) and sweeties/candy!
Top tip: would be to take some birdseed or green peas if you want to feed them.
The Gardens of Real Alcazar with kids
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 our top tip would be to see how many animals, birds, insects and flowers you can spot or smell.
The Maze of Real Alcazar with kids
I am unsure when the maze was added to the garden, probably this century.
We had great fun trying to get to the centre! Can you find your way? Without cheating?
I have no idea what this room is, I suspect it was possibly the stables but I forgot to look. It has an exquisite floor and a fantastic view over to La Giralda.
Top tip: Can you get your arms around the circumference of the pillars? Or does it need teamwork? Can you balance on tippy toes on the individual floor bricks?
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What else can you do in Seville with kids?
We spent roughly 9 months across various parts of Spain, have a look and see what you could do.