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A view of the Patio de las doncellas, a ṣaḥn within the Alcázar of Seville.[1]
Hall of Ambassadors at the Alcázar of Seville (ceiling).

An alcázar (English: /ˈælkəzɑːr/;[2] see below) is a type of Moorish castle or palace in Spain built during Muslim rule although the term is also used for many medieval castles built by Christians on earlier Roman, Visigothic or Moorish fortifications. Most of the alcázars were built between the 8th and 15th centuries. Many cities in Spain have an alcázar. The term is frequently used as a synonym for castillo or castle; palaces built by Christian rulers were also often called alcázars.


The Spanish word alcázar (pronounced [alˈkaθaɾ]) derives from the Arabic word القصر al-qaṣr "the fort, castle, or palace".,[3] which in turn derives from the latin word Castrum ("fortress", "military camp").

Similar words exist in Galician (alcázar, pronounced [alˈkaθɐɾ]), Portuguese (alcácer, pronounced [ɐɫˈkasɛɾ]), and Catalan (alcàsser, pronounced [əlˈkasəɾ]).

Spain also has Moorish citadels known as alcazabas (القصبة al-qasbah). However, not all castles in Spain are called alcázar: the majority are called castillo in Spanish or castell in Catalan. Nor was every alcázar or alcazaba in Iberia built by the Moors: many castles with these names were built after the Moors were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula.

Landmark alcázars[edit]

Disappeared landmark alcázars[edit]

  • The Alcázar of the Caliphs of Córdoba was the seat of the government of Al-Andalus, and the residence of the emirs and caliphs of Córdoba since the arrival of the Muslims in the 8th Century until the Christian conquest of the city, in 1236. It had a total area of 39,000 square metres (420,000 sq ft). Part of its structure survives.
  • The Royal Alcazar of Madrid was a palace built by Emperor Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, (rebuilt by his son, Philip II)[6] and was the main royal residence in Madrid until the Buen Retiro Palace partly superseded it in the 17th century. It was destroyed by fire in 1734, and the present Royal Palace of Madrid was built on the site. This was called Palacio Nuevo and has never been called alcázar.
  • The Castle Alcázar of Segorbe, province of Castellón, autonomous community of Valencia, was an enormous complex that for over a thousand years was the residence of lords, dukes and kings.

Outside Spain[edit]

Outside Spain, in Palermo, Sicily, the Cassaro corresponds to the Punic settlement of Zis, on high ground that was refortified by the Arabs and known as al-qaṣr and was further expanded as the site of the later Norman palace.

The former colonial palace in Santo Domingo, originally built for Christopher Columbus's son Diego in 1509, is commonly known as the Alcázar de Colón ("Columbus's alcázar") and is built in the Andalusian style.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ اليوم, الدمام- (2015-01-09). "صحن الوصيفات في قصر المورق بغرناطة". alyaum (in Arabic). Retrieved 2020-04-07.
  2. ^ "Alcazar". Unabridged. 10 Oct 2015.
  3. ^ "alcazar | Definition of alcazar in English by Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford Dictionaries | English. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  4. ^ Hugh Thomas, The Spanish Civil War, revised and enlarged edition (1977), New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-014278-2. p. 324
  5. ^ Reed, Tony (2005). "Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos - Cordoba". Archived from the original on 11 May 2006. Retrieved April 4, 2006.
  6. ^ Philip of Spain by Henry Kamen