ALCAZAR Seville

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Why visit the Alcazar of Seville?

The Royal Alcazar of Seville (Real Alcázar de Sevilla) is a complex composed of several palaces and a vast area of perfectly manicured gardens. The highlight is the Palacio del Rey Don Pedro which stands out as being the most beautiful example of Mudéjar architecture in the world. The Alcazar is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Alcazar de Sevilla is one of the must-sees of the city. With its horseshoe arches, complex ceilings, ornate plasterwork and intricate tiles, it’s no wonder why it receives over 2 million visitors a year.

The buildings feature and interesting mixture of Islamic, Mudéjar, Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles – the result of the Alcazar’s evolution throughout the centuries. The palaces are surrounded by the marvelous Murillo Gardens where the scent of roses and orange trees waft through the air.

If you are a Game of Thrones fan, then you might recognize the Alcazar from season 6 where it was portrayed as the Water Gardens of Dorne, the seat of House Martell.

Mudéjar arches in the Royal Alcázar of Seville – Spain
Mudéjar arches
IMPORTANT TIPS
  • Buy your ticket in advance or you risk having to wait in line (and it might be a long wait). As another alternative, you can book a guided tour.
  • It is a big complex and you should plan at least 1.5 - 2 hours for your visit.

History of the Alcazar

The Alcazar’s history began in the 10th century when the Muslim Umayyad dynasty built a fortress (alcazaba) with a palace (al-qasr or alcazar) and a fortified wall. In the 11th and 12th centuries the Abbadid and Almohad dynasties expanded the fortifications. However, in 1248 the fortifications were not enough to keep out the Christian army who reconquered Seville.

A few years later, King Alfonso X ordered the construction of a gothic palace, part of which is still used today as the official residence of the king in the city. It is the oldest royal palace still in use in all of Europe.

In 1356, Seville was struck by a large earthquake that damaged much of the city and left some of the Alcazar in a bad state. King Peter I (Peter the Cruel) had three Almohad palaces demolished and then set out to build his own lavish abode. His Palacio del Rey Don Pedro was constructed with Moorish workers mimicking their own Muslim style but also incorporating some elements of western Christianity.

Detail of a Mudéjar arch in Seville's Alcazar – Spain
Detail of a mudéjar arch

NOTABLE EVENTS THAT OCCURRED IN SEVILLE’S ALCAZAR

  • King Peter I, who was married to Blanche of Bourbon, heard rumors that she was cheating on him with his half-brother Fadrique Alfonso de Castilla. The king confronted his half-brother in the Alcazar and an altercation ensued which ended with Peter thrusting a dagger into Fadrique and killing him.
  • In 1496, when Columbus returned from his second voyage to the Americas, he was welcomed in the Alcazar by the Catholic Monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand.
  • In 1526, the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V married his cousin Isabella of Portugal in the Alcazar.

The Alcazar in Detail

GOTHIC PALACE
(Alfonso X, 1252 - 1260)

Baths of Doña María de Padilla (Baños Doña María de Padilla) in the Alcazar of Seville, Spain
Baths of Doña María de Padilla

When Alfonso X took over the Alcazar from the Muslim Moors, he was not very impressed by their buildings. The ceilings were too low and the rooms too small. In addition, the king didn’t like the labyrinth-like distribution of the spaces. So he simply tore some of the buildings down to make way for a new Gothic palace. Alfonso liked Gothic architecture which at the time was seen as a symbol of the triumph of Christianity over Islam.

Main sections of the Gothic Palace:

  • Gran Salón
  • Tapestries room
  • Chapel
  • Baños de María Padilla - The baths were actually a water cistern known as an aljibe. However, it was named the “Baths of María Padilla” because legend has it that María Padilla, the mistress of King Peter I, used to bathe in them. Although the king was known for his many mistresses, María was his favorite. They had several children together and after her death, their marriage was validated and she was proclaimed as queen.

PALACIO DEL REY DON PEDRO
(Peter I, 1356 - 1364)

Salón de Embajadores (Ambassadors' Hall) – Alcazar of Seville, Spain
Salón de Embajadores (Ambassadors' Hall)

If you were to visit the Alcazar and have no knowledge of its history, you would probably think that the Palacio del Rey Don Pedro was leftover from the rule of the Muslim Moors. But you would be wrong. This amazing palace was actually commissioned by King Peter I, more than 100 years after Seville was reconquered by the christians.

Peter was very open-minded and greatly admired islamic culture. He brought in Muslim architects and artisans to build him a new palace in Mudéjar style.

The result is a very unique mixture of cultures. If you look closely you will even see arabic writing proclaiming Peter’s greatness – “Glory to our Lord the Sultan Don Pedro! May Allah protect him!”

Patio de las Doncellas (Maids' Patio) in the Royal Alcazar of Seville, Spain
Patio de las Doncellas

Main Sections of the Palacio del Rey Don Pedro:

  • Salón de Embajadores (Ambassadors’ Hall) - The most impressive of the interior spaces. The ceiling will blow your mind!
  • Patio de las Doncellas (Maids' Patio) - The most photographed patio in the Alcazar.
  • Patio de las Muñecas
  • Cuarto del Príncipe (Room of the Prince)

MURILLO GARDENS

Grutesco gallery in the gardens of Seville's Royal Alcazar – Spain
Grutesco gallery in the gardens of the Alcazar

The Alcazar’s gardens are the oldest in the city and originally, were used for growing crops. Although they have been reformed many times throughout history, they still maintain a Moorish heritage featuring fountains, tile work and many orange trees.

The Galería de Grutesco is the highlight of the garden. It’s a 160m (525 ft) long wall that was part of the Almohad defensive fortifications from the 12th century. King Philip II hired Italian artist Vermondo Resta to transform the Moorish wall into a gallery for admiring the garden. The result is a fusion of nature and architecture.

Right next to the Galería de Grutesco you will find the Estanque de Mercurio (Mercury’s Pond). It is thought that this beautiful pond was built during the Moorish times to store water for the whole Alcazaba (fortress).

CUARTO REAL ALTO

The Cuarto Real is the official residence of the king in Seville. Inside you will find the bedroom and chapel of the Catholic Queen Isabella. To enter the Cuarto Real Alto, a separate ticket is required. See our Tickets & Opening Times page for more information.

CASA DE LA CONTRATACIÓN DE INDIAS

The House of Trade of the Indies was created in 1503 by the Catholic Monarchs to regulate commerce and navigation to the New World. Inside there is the Sala de Audiencias which worked as a chapel (Capilla de la Virgen de los Navegantes) and is where sailors would pray before starting their voyages. Most of the regulatory work moved to the Archivo de Indias when it opened in 1589.

Seville's Alcazar in Pop Culture

Intricate arches in the Mudéjar Palace of Seville's Alcazar, Spain
Intricate arches in the Mudéjar Palace

Besides appearing in the 5th and 6th seasons of Game of Thrones, the Alcazar has also appeared in:

  • Lawrence of Arabia (1962) – British epic historical drama film based on the life of T.E. Lawrence
  • Knight and Day (2010) – American action comedy starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz
  • Kingdom of Heaven (2005) – Historical drama film directed and produced by Ridley Scott
  • 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992) – English-language French-Spanish historical drama film directed and produced by Ridley Scott
  • The Wind and the Lion (1975) – American adventure war film starring Sean Connery
  • La Peste (The Plague) – Spanish TV series from 2018
  • Emerald City (2017) – American fantasy drama television series from NBC
  • Alatriste (2006) – Spanish historical fiction war film directed by Agustín Díaz Yanes, based on the main character of a series of novels written by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
  • Where Are You Going, Alfonso XII? (1959) – Spanish historical drama film that portrays the life of Alfonso XII of Spain

Top Hotels around Sevilla's Alcazar

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