Exquisitely colorful. Elaborately detailed. Geometrically perfect.
These are just some of the many adjectives used to describe the Alcazar of Seville, a royal palace originally built in the 9th century that embodies a unique fusion of Christian and Mudéjar architecture. It started out with humble beginnings as a fortress in southern Spain during rule under the Umayyad caliphate. Subsequent Arab rulers continued to build palaces and patios around the fortress until King Ferdinand III conquered Seville in 1248 and ended Muslim occupation.
After the 13th century, Gothic architecture was introduced to the building complex. King Peter of Castille further contributed to Alcazar’s ornate exteriors and placed additional courtyards, warehouses, and royal rooms fit to house monarchs and their families.
Today, the palace complex is one of Seville’s most popular tourist attractions and arguable also the best preserved palaces in the world. The UN recognizes it an official UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Its popularity has also peaked in recent years thanks to HBO’s renowned series Game of Thrones, and it is currently still in use by the Spanish royal family.
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Top highlights inside Alcazar de Seville:
One can enter the Alcazar through the Puerta de León (Lion Gate) into the old garrison yards. The Sala de la Justica (Hall of Justice) contains intricate plasterwork in the Mudéjar style, which was built in the 14th century for one of King Alfonso XI’s mistresses.
The Alcazar itself contains multiple palaces, but perhaps the most unmissable one is Palacio Mudéjar (or Palacio de Don Pedro). The breathtaking Islamic art that covers every square inch of the palace façade is a literally reflection of the amicable relationship between King Pedro (a Christian) and Mohammed V, the Muslim emir from Granada, who invited his best artists to create a masterpiece of geometric Iberian Islamic art.
Museum like showrooms like the Salón del Almirate (Admiral’s Room) contain 19th and 20th-century paintings preserving historical events from Seville as well as antique fans. One can find numerous patios and cuartos, which were rooms specifically made for members of the royal family.
The last (but certainly not least) room that must be checked out is the Salón de Embajadores (Hall of Ambassadors). Boasting stunning geometric intricacies with iridescent shades of blue and gold, it’s a sight to behold. Be sure to look up at the gold dome ceiling above you, which captures a perfect balance of symmetry and precision in its careful construction.
Basic visiting information:
Regular ticket – 9.50 euros (students and disabled persons are eligible for a small discount)
October to March – everyday from 9:30am to 5:00pm
April to September – everyday from 9:30am to 7:00pm
For more information on the Alcazar de Seville, click here.
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