Located in the southern Spanish town of Seville, the Alcázar or ‘Reales Alcázares de Sevilla‘ is a 10th-century royal palace which was built as a fort for the then Cordoban governors of Seville. These Moorish rulers who occupied the peninsula from the 8th century after the Almohades gained control of Seville in 1161 and soon embarked on a building frenzy. They constructed a number of baths, towers, a lavish grand mosque and a fortress-like palace known as the Al-Mubarak. Over the years, subsequent monarchs kept expanding the palace and adding period elements, resulting in a diverse complex with different architectural styles. This jigsaw combination of Gothic, Romanesque and Renaissance features gave rise to a unique style of design called Mudéjar, a combination of Islamic and Christian designs. Today, the Alcazar Seville is considered to be one of the most outstanding examples of mudéjar art to exist.
To be honest, every corner of the Reales Alcázares de Sevilla is worth exploring. While we strongly suggest a guided tour in order to know the history and lores behind each room and nook, you can take a self-guided tour of the Palace as well. On your tour, make sure to hit up these highlights of the Palace as they are the most awe-inspiring.
The Sala de la Justicia, or the Hall of Justice, is in the first building on the left of the entrance of Alcazar. This room, with a fascinating interlocked wooden ceiling, has a fountain in the center and is a sight behold.
The fountain from the Hall of Justice flows into the pool in the Patio del Yeso. This small courtyard, with its two porticoes, used to be an Almohad residence that was later renovated with the addition of a qubba.
The Salón del Almirante (Admiral’s Hall) showcases 19th- and 20th-century paintings of historical events associated with Seville. The northern end of the room also showcases an international collection of beautiful, elaborate fans.
The Sala de Audiencias (Chapterhouse) is a chapel where the tapestry representations of the shields of Spanish admirals and Alejo Fernández’ painting of Virgin Madonna are displayed.
The Patio de las Doncellas (Patio of the Maidens) is surrounded by beautiful arches, plasterwork and tiling. The sunken garden in the centre was uncovered by archaeologists only recently, in 2004.
The Hall of Ambassadors was originally Pedro I’s throne room built in 1366. The magnificent wooden dome of multiple star patterns which symbolized the universe was added later in 1427.
The Galeria de Grutesco is a raised gallery with old Islamic walls that were transformed in the 16th century into a loggia from where you can admire the view of the palace gardens.
The Dolls Courtyard is at the heart of the palace’s private quarters, featuring delicate Granada-style decoration. The patio gets its name from the carving of dolls faces at the beginning of each arch.
The Jardín del Laberinto is a maze garden with the path defined by trimmed hedges. The maze garden makes for a fun stroll as you find your way to the end.
The Los Baños de Doña María de Padilla (Baths of Lady María de Padilla) is an underground rainwater bath system located just off of the gardens underneath the palace.
A visit to the Alcazar is incomplete without a stroll through its massive, manicured garden. The garden actually has many smaller gardens that are unique, and reflect the passing of various historical periods. You will find yourself lost in a fantasy world as you saunter through this verdant environment. With an area of around 60000 sq. ft., the garden has over a hundred different species of plants. The lushness of the plants and trees is calmy inviting and the maze with its finely trimmed hedges invokes an indescribably soothing feeling. Don’t forget to look out for peacocks during your stroll!
Complementing the greenery are the numerous fountains, ponds, and waterfall, which add to the serene setting. However, the most prominent pond is the Mercury Pond with a figure of Mercury in the middle. After your stroll, perch up on the Galeria de Grutesco for a bird’s-eye view of the garden.