CASA DE PILATOS Seville

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Pilate’s House, or Casa de Pilatos as it’s known locally, is one of the most emblematic buildings of Spanish civil architecture from the 16th century. It’s one of many opulent palaces that can be found scattered throughout Seville’s old town but it is definitely the most unique. The remarkable mixture of architecture styles – including Gothic, Mudéjar, Renaissance and Romantic – blend harmoniously together in what can best be described as a feast for the eyes. The walls of the palace are completely covered with sumptuous plasterwork and a dizzying array of colorful tiles. Casa de Pilatos is still privately owned by Casa de Medinaceli, one of Spain’s oldest noble houses. Being just a 15 minute walk from the cathedral, there’s hardly a reason not to visit.

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OPENING TIMES

November to March: everyday from 9am to 6pm
April to October: everyday from 9am to 7pm

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PRICE

Whole house: 12€
Only bottom floor: 10€
Children (up to 11 years): free
* Audioguide included in entrance price
* Free for everyone Mondays from 3 pm

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ADDRESS

Pl. de Pilatos 1, 41003 Sevilla

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Who Built Casa de Pilatos?

Ornate arches & Roman statue in a corner of the patio of Casa de Pilatos – Seville, Spain
Ornate arches & Roman statue in a corner of the patio

Construction of Pilate’s House began in 1483 on land that had been confiscated during the Spanish Inquisition. It was commissioned by Pedro Enríquez de Quiñones and his second wife Catalina de Ribera. Pedro Enríquez was the nephew of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. He even served as the monarch’s representative in Seville.

In 1493, Pedro Enríquez died. His wife Catalina took over and finished the construction. Their son, Fadrique Enríquez de Ribera (1476-1539), I Marquis of Tarifa, expanded the building. He introduced the Italian Renaissance style to the house after he had seen it in Italy when passing through on his pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

The building was eventually abandoned during the 18th century and then restored at the end of the 19th. In 1931 it was declared a National Monument.

INTERESTING FACT

The 18th Duchess of Medinaceli was known to host charity balls for the Red Cross at Casa de Pilatos. Some of the most famous guests to attend were Jacqueline Kennedy and Prince Rainer of Monaco with his wife Grace Kelly.

WHY IS IT CALLED PILATE'S HOUSE?

In 1519, Fadrique Enríquez de Ribera, I Marquis of Tarifa went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. There he discovered that the distance between the house of Pontius Pilate and Golgotha was the same as between his palace and the Cross of the Field (Cruz del Campo).

Once he arrived back in Seville he created a Via Crucis with 12 stations between Casa de Pilatos and the Cruz del Campo. It turned into an annual procession with celebrations that grew in popularity year after year. The origin of the Holy Week processions in Seville can be traced back to Fadrique’s Via Crucis.

Sculptures from the Roman ruins of Italica in Casa de Pilatos – Sevilla, Spain
Sculptures from the Roman ruins of Italica
INTERESTING FACT

The famous Spanish beer Cruzcampo is named after the Cruz del Campo and even has its brewery located right next to the field.

WHO OWNS CASA DE PILATOS TODAY?

Casa de Pilatos belongs to the Duchy of Medinaceli, one of the oldest nobility titles in Spain that dates back to 1479. The upper level still holds a private residence.

Since 2017, the 20th Duchess of Medinaceli, Victoria de Hohenlohe-Langenburg y Schmidt-Polex, owns Casa de Pilatos. She is a Spanish-German aristocrat born in Malaga in 1997.

Victoria is literally entitled. In 2016, after her father’s death, she became the heir to 43 titles of nobility (she is the holder of 5 duchies, 16 marquessates, 17 countships and 4 viscountcies). She holds the record for being the noble with the most titles in Spain.

What to See in Casa de Pilatos

The main buildings of Casa de Pilatos are organized around 2 main patios. In addition there are two separate gardens. Plan with around 30 minutes to an hour for seeing it all.

MAIN PATIO

Main Patio of Casa de Pilatos seen from the upper floor – Seville, Spain
Main Patio at Casa de Pilatos

Walk through the Italian marble entrance gate and into the stunning courtyard. From there it’s pure eye candy – Mudéjar arches, Gothic balustrades, walls completely covered in colorful tiles and a Renaissance fountain in the middle of it all. The walls are lined with 24 busts of Roman and Spanish emperors.

JUDGES' REST ROOM & PRAETOR'S ROOM

Salón de descanso de los Jueces (Judges' rest room) in Casa de Pilatos – Seville, Spain
Salón de descanso de los Jueces (Judges' rest room)

These two rooms are found on the lower level. The Judges’ Rest Room gets its name from the 71 members of the Sanhedrin council in Israel that judged Christ before he was taken to Pilate.

The Praetor’s Room is probably the most impressive. It features a coffered ceiling with carvings of the coat of arms from the Ribera family. This room is supposed to represent Pilate’s own palace.

MAIN STAIRCASE

Impressive staircase at Casa Pilatos in Sevilla, Spain
Staircase at Casa de Pilatos

Casa de Pilatos’ staircase is simple breathtaking. Fadrique, the I Marquis of Tarifa, lined the walls with thousands of tiles in crazy patterns. This collection of tiles is one of the largest in the world. The hallway’s ceiling is carved from wood and covered with gold inlet. The most impressive is the honeycomb dome that dates from 1538. It was inspired by the dome in the Salón de Embajadores of the Royal Alcazar. There are only 4 known domes like this one in the entire world.

GARDENS

Large Garden (Jardín Grande) at Casa Pilatos in Sevilla, Spain
Large Garden (Jardín Grande)

The main buildings are surrounded on both sides by lush Italianate gardens that are perfectly manicured. With orange trees and palms, the gardens are beautiful all year round. However, from May until the end of the summer is the best time to see them. The Small Garden (Jardín Chico) is to the east and the Large Garden (Jardín Grande or Jardín de las Logias) is to the west.

INTERESTING FACT

Casa de Pilatos once had a direct connection to the Caños de Carmona – the aqueduct that brought water to the Royal Alcazar. This water belonged to the crown and having been granted access to it was a rare privilege. Back then, water was very valuable and a “must” if you had a garden. That is why having a garden was the clearest symbol of social distinction.

UPPER FLOOR: WINTER PALACE

Several rooms can be visited on the upper floor but it will cost you an extra few euros for admission and can only be accessed during scheduled guided visits. The upper level is where the nobles stayed dry and warm in the winter. Inside you will find an exhibition of paintings and tapestries from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Some highlights include frescoes of the apotheosis of Hercules by Francisco Pacheco and a series of bullfighting paintings by Francisco de Goya.

Is Casa de Pilatos worth visiting?

Colorful mosaic tiles and wooden door in Casa de Pilatos – Sevilla, Spain
Colorful mosaic tiles

If you are into architecture, a short answer would be yes. Casa de Pilatos is, in our opinion, the best historic palace in Seville (not counting the Royal Alcazar). The mixture of architecture styles is truly unique and fascinating. It’s a palace that you could only expect to find in Seville.

Some people do find the 10€ entrance fee a bit steep. However, the price is really on par with other attractions in the city. Considering how unique Casa de Pilatos is, it’s a place I would gladly place on any first-time visitor’s Seville itinerary. And if you really want to save the 10€, go on a Monday after 3pm when admission is free. Just keep in mind that the lines can get long and there is a limit of 100 people per hour.

Casa de Pilatos in the Movies

Casa de Pilatos has been the set of several movies. The most famous are:

  • Lawrence of Arabia (1962) – British historical drama film based on the life of T. E. Lawrence.
  • 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992) – English-language French-Spanish historical drama film directed and produced by Ridley Scott.
  • Kingdom of Heaven (2005) – Historical drama directed and produced by Ridley Scott.
  • Knight and Day (2010) – American action comedy film starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.
INTERESTING FACT

In 2009, when Tom Cruise was filming the movie “Knight and Day” in Casa de Pilatos and knowing that the 18th Duchess of Medinaceli was in the building, he asked to meet her. When staff informed the 92 year old Duchess, she replied: “No, I can't because I'm doing a crossword puzzle.”

Tom Cruise reportedly loved the Duchess’ response and thought she had a great personality. He continued to visit her every day of shooting in the building.

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