Alcázar of Seville

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Cathedral, Alcázar and General Archive of the Indies in Seville
Patio de las doncellas.jpg
The Courtyard of the Maidens
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Location Spain Edit this on Wikidata
Criteria i, ii, iii, vi
Reference 383
Coordinates 37°23′02″N 5°59′29″W / 37.3839°N 5.9914°W / 37.3839; -5.9914
Inscription 1987 (11th Session)
Alcázar of Seville is located in Spain
Alcázar of Seville
Location of Alcázar of Seville

The Alcázar of Seville (Spanish "Reales Alcázares de Sevilla" or "Royal Alcazars of Seville", (Spanish pronunciation: [alˈkaθar])) is a royal palace in Seville, Andalusia, Spain, originally developed by Moorish Muslim kings.

The palace is renowned as one of the most beautiful in Spain, being regarded as one of the most outstanding examples of mudéjar architecture found on the Iberian Peninsula.[1] The upper levels of the Alcázar are still used by the royal family as the official Seville residence and are administered by the Patrimonio Nacional. It is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe, and was registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, along with the Seville Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies.[2]

The Reales Alcázares de Sevilla, a monumental complex that retains seven hectares of gardens and seventeen thousand square meters of buildings, was an authentic military and palatine acropolis that brought together several palaces and urban defenses still preserved that cover a wide chronological area between the 11th and 16th centuries with later modifications, having been the main palace of the Abbadí taifa kingdom, seat of one of the three capitals of the Almohad empire, palace of the Castilian monarchy during the Late Middle Ages and Royal House during the Early Modern Age.


The term ‘Alcázar’ comes from the Hispano-Arabic word ‘Alqáşr’ meaning ‘Royal House’ or ‘Room of the Prince’ (whether fortified or not).[3]


Seville 1588 (Site of Alcazar is to right of Cathedral)
Alcazar de Seville by Henry Fox Talbot, circa 1853/58
Plan of the Alcázar of Seville
  • 1-Puerta del León
  • 2-Sala de la Justicia y patio del Yeso (cyan)
  • 3-Patio de la Montería (pink)
  • 4-Cuarto del Almirante y Casa de Contratación (cream)
  • 5-Palacio mudéjar o de Pedro I (red)
  • 6-Palacio gótico (blue)
  • 7-Estanque de Mercurio
  • 8-Jardines (green)
  • 9-Apeadero
  • 10-Patio de Banderas

The Real Alcázar is situated near the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies in one of Spain's most emblematic areas.[4] The remains of a building dating from the 1st century have been found, of which the function is not known with certainty.[5] This 1st-century building stretched from the Patio de Banderas to the interior of the current Alcázar. A Paleochristian church, identified by some as the Basilica of San Vicente, that was one of the three main temples of the city during the Visigothic time on its ruins was built. From this primitive temple some remains have been found in the Patio de Banderas.[5] Some capitals and stems of this temple were used for the Palace of Peter of Castile (Mudéjar Palace). The tomb of the Bishop Honorato, that probably was in this church, is currently in the cathedral.[5]

In 914 the Umayyads built a alcazaba with a quadrangular wall attached to the old Roman wall of the city. The only known access to this alcazaba was through a door that was located where currently the house number 16 of the Patio de Banderas.[5] This entrance consisted of an arch that preserves the north jamb.[5] Inside there were some simple outbuildings attached to the walls, such as warehouses, stables and barracks.[5]

After the loss of Cordobese control on Isbilya, an Abbadí aristocracy was created in the city. It completed a very constructive activity. In the middle of the 11th century, the alcazaba expanded to the south, doubling its surface. A new entrance was created with a control castle, of which a double horseshoe door is conserved in the street Joaquín Romero Murube.[5] In the interior a series of small buildings were placed and probably there was a main building, palatial, where is currently the Gothic Palace. In the second half of the 11th century, king Al-Mu'tamid ibn Abbad extended the fortress towards the west and some palace buildings were constructed. This was the original Alcázar of the Blessing (Al-Mubarak). Of the two alcazabas and the Alcázar of Al-Mutamid there are only a few vestiges in the walls.[5]

In the 12th century, the Almohades completely reformed all this space. They created a system of walls that united the Alcázar with other fortifications until the bed of the Guadalquivir. The Alcázar arrived until the tower of Abd el Aziz, located in the present avenue of the Constitution. In the interior, a dozen new and larger buildings were built.[5] The walls of the Alcázar were also part of a new and reformed fortifications for the defense of the city. These defensive works culminated at the beginning of 13th century with the construction of the Torre del Oro.[5]

The Almohades were the first to build a palace, that was called Al-Muwarak, on the site of the modern day Alcázar. It is one of the most representative monumental compounds in the city, the country and the Mediterranean culture. Its influences held within its walls and gardens began in the Arabic period and continued into the late Middle Ages Mudéjar period right through to the Renaissance, the Baroque era, and the 19th century.[6] Subsequent monarchs have made their own additions to the Alcázar.

The Castilian Court lived for decades in the old Almohad spaces.[5] Between 1252 and 1260 Alfonso X of Castile used the space of the main building to build the Gothic Palace.[7] In the 14th century king Peter of Castile overthrew three Almohad Palatine buildings to build the Mudéjar Palace, which was attached to the Gothic Alfonsí Palace.[5] Construction began in 1356 [8] and, according to the inscriptions of the own Alcázar, finalized in 1364.

Throughout history, the Alcázar has been the scene of various events related to the Spanish Crown. Between 1363 and 1365, it was visited by diplomats of the Court of Granada Ibn Khaldun, philosopher, and Ibn al-Khatib, chronicler and poet, to sign a peace treaty with King Peter of Castile.[9] In 1367 the Prince of Wales sent the English diplomats Neil Loring, Richard Punchardoun and Thomas Balastre to this Alcázar to meet Peter of Castile and collect some payments. In 1477 the Catholic Monarchs arrived at Seville, using the enclosure as a room, and a year later, on June 14, 1478, the second son, the prince John. It is known that this royal childbirth was attended by a Sevillian midwife known as "La Herradera" and had the presence, as witnesses designated by King Ferdinand, Garci Téllez, Alonso Melgarejo, Fernando de Abrejo and Juan de Pineda, as marked the Castilian norms, to dissipate the slightest doubt that the son was of the queen.[10] In 1526 the wedding of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor with his cousin Isabella of Portugal was celebrated in the Alcázar.[11]

The palace was the birthplace of Infanta Maria Antonietta of Spain (1729–1785), daughter of Philip V of Spain and Elisabeth Farnese. The king was in the city to oversee the signing of the Treaty of Seville (1729) which ended the Anglo-Spanish War (1727).

The Palace[edit]

The whole of the outer primitive enclosure, much of it outside the complex visited, preserves the almost intact perimeter walls.

The current tourist visit presents a route that does not take into account the historical perspective, being much more logical to understand the origin and evolution of the alcázar if it begins where it ends, from the north walls and the Patio de Banderas, first occupied zone, and go progressing from there to the interior.

Puerta del León[edit]

Puerta del León (Lion's Gate)

The original gate is blinded but refurbished as part of a conference room integrated in a house of the mentioned patio, although it can neither be visited nor is under the control of the Patronage of the Alcázar in spite of its historical importance.

The current entrance to the monument is made by the Puerta del León, practiced in the Arab walls of the 12th century, which in Islamic times was called "de la Montería" because it was the entrance to the courtyard. It takes its name from the heraldic symbol located on the arch of its arch, the main entrance to the Alcázar takes its name from the 19th century tile-work inlaid above it, a crowned lion holding a cross in its claws and bearing a Gothic script.[12]

Across this hallway, it reach the Patio del León.

Hall of Justice[edit]

To his right are the Hall of Justice or Councils and Patio del Yeso, one of the examples of Almohad civil architecture that are preserved in the country, the remains of the Mexuar, where the council of viziers met, and believed Which was used as a royal abode in the days of Alfonso X, Alfonso XI and Peter of Castile, who would use it while building his new palace, with the Courtyard of the Croisser and the Room of the Snail as a public part of the whole.

The Hall of Justice is a square floor room to which Alfonso XI added a new Mudéjar deck that still retains, but remained a meeting place of council members during the Christian monarchy.

Patio del Yeso[edit]

Work of yeseria in the arch between the Hall of Justice and the Patio del Yeso

The Patio del Yeso preserves part of the exterior aspect of the Almohad period, although it is modified with respect to the rooms that were around it. It has a quadrangular plant with a central pool. In its west wing only conserves the rest of the arc of access because after it the mentioned Hall of Justice was raised. The north arcade is blinded, composed of three horseshoe arches on central columns framed by alfiz on which appear three windows of arches in horseshoe. The southern archery is the best preserved, composed of a central arch pointed polilobulated with brick pillars flanked by three others on each side, smaller, also lobulated, leaning on marble columns and on which a rich Sebka decoration is developed, giving way to a rectangular room with alcoves at the ends.

Back on the Patio of the León, on its south side are three open spans on an old canvas of the taifa walls, an access in the form of an arch of triumph. According to some authors, the Castilian judiciary court was set up under the central arch, which was intended for the common people, giving the area a character of Christian Mexuar, while the sides, blinded, would shelter the soldiers who guarded, Although in 1939 they set out to give greater visibility to the Patio de la Montería and the facade of the Palace of Peter of Castile.

Patio de la Montería[edit]

Patio de la Montería

The Patio de la Montería is named after the hunters accompanying the monarch in his hunting parties and occupies, in part, the area of the patio that articulated the residential buildings of the Almohad period.

It has a trapezoidal floor and organizes the most important spaces of the Alcázar, with the Palace of Peter of Castile in front, a low portico with a gallery of the 16th century to the right, behind which is located the Patio of the Casa de Contratación, and a simulated porch that is from the 18th century to the left with access to the Patio of the Croisser, before the Gothic palace. The brick arches on both sides of the portal of the Palace of Peter of Castile seem to indicate that its perimeter articulation in the 14th century could have presented a porticoed aspect of arches and brick pillars, although it is not known if the project came to materialize or remained truncated with the murder of Peter.

The gallery on the right, by Antón Sánchez Hurtado in the 16th century, has double height of semicircular arches on Tuscan columns in the lower part and an upper glazed with Ionic columns, with a staircase next to the facade of the Palace of Peter of Castile and access to the High Palace, the area now reserved for use by the Spanish Crown or to accommodate illustrious guests.

Patio de las Doncellas[edit]

Patio de las Doncellas
Fountain in Patio de las Doncellas

The name, meaning "The Courtyard of the Maidens", refers to the legend that the Moors demanded 100 virgins every year as tribute from Christian kingdoms in Iberia.

The lower level of the Patio was built for King Peter I and includes inscriptions describing Peter as a "sultan". Various lavish reception rooms are located on the sides of the Patio. In the center is a large, rectangular reflecting pool with sunken gardens on either side. For many years, the courtyard was entirely paved in marble with a fountain in the center. However, historical evidence showed the gardens and the reflecting pool were the original design and this arrangement was restored. However, soon after this restoration, the courtyard was temporarily paved with marble once again at the request of movie director Ridley Scott. Scott used the paved courtyard as the set for the court of the King of Jerusalem in his movie Kingdom of Heaven. The courtyard arrangement was converted once more after the movie's production.

The upper story of the Patio was an addition made by Charles V. The addition was designed by Luis de Vega in the style of the Italian Renaissance although he did include both Renaissance and mudéjar plaster work in the decorations. Construction of the addition began in 1540 and ended in 1572.

The Patio de las Doncellas marks a main longitudinal axis and is surrounded by a gallery, an Andalusian solution that we also see in the Courtyard of the Lions of the Alhambra, fully framed in the Islamic conception of open space and landscaped as the center of distribution of the rest of rooms, which is how we can see it today, with a longitudinal pond flanked by two areas depressed in almost one meter with respect to the general floor and folded arches realized in brick in all its perimeter.

Faced with the Hispanic-Muslim tradition of double portico on the smaller sides, here we find a perimeter gallery as a peristyle. It is organized by means of poly-lobed arches that supported on reused Caliphs capitals of Córdoban palaces that during the reforms undertaken in the time of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and prolonged with [Philip II of Spain|Philip II]] according to the royal architect Luis de Vega, was chosen to replace them by Renaissance columns of the workshop of Antonio Maria Aprile de Carona of Genoa. It also highlights the absence of alfices, replaced by long Sebka cloths of local tradition, as we have seen that they are used, for example, in the Patio del Yeso.

In the lower oriental gallery there are no rooms to be glued to the chapel of the Gothic Palace, although it has three divans of Oriental taste in which to rest contemplating the garden practiced in the wall.

La Casa de Contratación[edit]

Casa de Contratación (House of Trade) beside the Patio de la Monteria

The Casa de Contratación (House of Trade) was established in 1503 by the Catholic Monarchs to regulate trade with the New World colonies after the discovery of America. The Casa controlled the governmental apparatus of Spanish exploration and colonization, and consequently dealt with legal disputes concerning trade with the Americas. Its administration buildings were located near the Patio de la Monteria and included the chapel where Columbus met with Ferdinand and Isabella after his second voyage. The chapel today houses paintings of some of the most celebrated voyages of the discoverers, such as The Virgin of the Navigators, one of the first paintings to depict the discovery of the Americas and one of the earliest paintings to depict Columbus, and Magellan's first voyage around the World.

To accommodate that institution, the city of Seville was chosen. That same year, construction and arrangement of the necessary buildings was ordered. What survives today of the old House of Trade is only part of the original construction, which included a number of buildings that stretched from the current Patio de la Monteria to Plaza de la Contratación, where it had its main façade. This area included, among others, the Admiral's room or Chapter House, with two two-story buildings, a chapel, another area of warehouses and rooms around a courtyard, next to the Plaza de la Contratación, this part being demolished in 1964. In 1717, the agency moved to the city of Cádiz. Since 1793, when the Casa de Contratación was shut down, all its former departments were merged into the Alcázar .

In this right wing of the Patio de la Montería, where the Casa de Contratación de Indias was, the Admiral's Room is conserved, with an initial hall of rectangular plant with wooden roof decorated with paintings of the 19th and 20th centuries, property of Patrimonio Nacional, which today is used for official and cultural events, which has another room in which is exhibited a collection of thirty-seven fans donated to the city by Doña Gloria Trueba, and the one known as Hall of Audiences, a square floor room whose walls present the shields of the admirals of the Castilian crown, since Ferdinand III of Castile founded in Seville the Royal Armada of Castile, until Christopher Columbus and a cover of wood painted of 16th century.

Later it became a chapel, presided over by an altarpiece of the Virgin of the Navigators of Alejo Fernández, dated between 1531 and 1536, with the first known representation of the discovery of America, where Christopher Columbus and Emperor Charles V are identified.

Patio of the Casa de Contratación[edit]

There is also the so-called Patio of the Casa de Contratación, although, despite its historical importance, as a vestige of an old Almohad palace restructured by Peter of Castile, it is not part of the visitable circuit of the Alcázar because it is integrated in the current building of the Ministry of Interior of the Junta de Andalucía, offices closed to tourism. Preserves remains recovered Almohad north archery, with a large central poly-lobed arch, leaning on thick pilasters flanked by double smaller spans separated by pillars delimiting large cloths of Sebka calada. The portico of the south hall has not reached us, perhaps destroyed in the 16th century to adapt the space as the Hall of the Treasury, deposit of American gold and silver.

Alfonsí Palace[edit]

To the left of the Patio de la Montería is the Gothic, Alfonsí Palace of the Croisser or Room of the Snail, which with all these names is known, commanded to build by Alfonso X in 1254 in the Patio del Crucero of the known as enclosure II of the alcazaba , The main space of the Almohad palaces, remaining the rest of buildings, in the enclosure III, hardly without alterations throughout the following century.

The patio, with a longitudinal axis oriented north-south, was a large rectangular garden, the largest of the Almohad and the largest known in Al-Andalus, above the Palace of Comares of the Alhambra. According to archaeological studies, it had a perimeter gallery at the height of the rooms occupied by the north and south, without knowing for sure if the east and west sides, the longest, had alcoves, and a garden in transept more than four and a half meters away, which was reached by stairs also from the north and south sides, divided into four parterres by two platforms in crosshead with swimming pools. In the center it is believed that there was a large fountain or a pavilion that would have been built in the middle of the 12th century, in the time of Ibn Mardanis.

The Christian modification consisted in transforming the domestic character of the main residence of the Sevillian Almohad Caliphas into a great courteous palace, more thought for the movement of a numerous entourage than as a royal dwelling, the meeting place of the poetic court of Alfonso X, where important works like the Cantigas de Santa María or books of history, law and science arose.

The southern room of the large patio was modified to form two parallel cradles flanked by two other perpendiculars covered with ribbed vaults and four angular towers with spiral staircases, hence one of their names, which led to a large crenellated terrace perhaps it did the functions of place of arms. To allow direct communication between the north and south wings, now protocol spaces, without the need to use the narrow perimeter platforms or go down to the garden, also raised a large central platform supported on a vaulted structure in which was lodged the longitudinal pool, with small corridors at the sides of it forming two parallel passages. The design was completed with other transverse platforms, reproducing in height the design of the inferior croisser that existed in the Islamic garden.

Gothic palace[edit]

Gothic palace

One of the parallel cradles is called Gothic Palace, of Vaults or of Parties, the latter meaning adopted from the celebration of the royal wedding of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and Isabella of Portugal in March 1526. During the reign of Philip II was remodeled to give it a more Renaissance style, replacing the pillars by corbels, painting the vaults and covering the walls with high ceramic azulejos of the potter Cristóbal de Augusta with heraldic decoration, grotesques, caryatids, and allegories of the cardinal virtues – Strength, Justice, Temperance and Prudence, who pay homage to the emperor, whom they present as a classic hero, and his wife.

Hall of Tapestries[edit]

Hall of Tapestries

In parallel to this Gothic palace is the Hall of Tapestries, rebuilt in a new plant after the earthquake of 1755 with epicenter in Lisbon by order of Charles III. It has a rectangular floor plan with vaulted ceilings with Baroque yeserias. It receives that name because in the time of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor was decorated with the series of great tapestries of the Conquest of Tunisia in 1535, made from 1546 on behalf of Mary of Hungary, sister of the emperor, according to cartons of Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen and Pieter Coecke van Aelst and fabrics in the Brussels workshop of Willem de Pannemaker. But in the 18th century they were so badly damaged that in 1740 Philip V commissioned some copies, which have been in this room since 1929, while the originals, owned by Patrimonio Nacional and restored in 2000, are part of the collection of the Madrid's Royal Palace.

Gothic chapel[edit]

Gothic chapel

Of the perpendicular cradles stands the one located to the right, in the western part, because it is the one that forms the Gothic chapel, and for which it was necessary to demolish part of the Abbadí walls, that was embedded in the Gothic building, that the enclosures II and III of the alcázar lost their independent character and entered part of the Almohad palace located there, although the rest remained simply changing the pavements and transforming the patio.

The chapel has an altarpiece of the Virgen de la Antigua of 18th century of Diego de Castillejo and to the walls also was added a plinth of azulejos of Cristóbal de Augusta in time of Philip II.

After the earthquake in Lisbon, important restoration works were also used to give the courtyard a Baroque air by filling the parterres with earth to form the current courtyard and erecting a new porticoed façade by Sebastian van der Brocht.

Los Baños de Doña María de Padilla[edit]

Los Baños de Doña María de Padilla

The "Baths of Lady María de Padilla" are rainwater tanks beneath the Patio del Crucero. The tanks are named after María de Padilla, the mistress of Peter the Cruel.

As the whole patio was greatly affected by the Lisbon earthquake, the architect also chose to solidify the garden area up to the upper floors and convert the old Almohad cistern into a basement under the Gothic palace, an area still preserved, which is known as "Baños de Doña María" in honor of Doña María de Padilla, noble lover of Peter of Castile who, according to legend, bathed in it. The king obtained authorisation from the Castilian Cortes to proclaim proclaim her queen after death; the archbishop of Toledo considered this marriage valid and annulled the other two that the monarch had contracted, thus legitimizing her children as his successors. Hence her remains rest in the Royal Chapel of the Cathedral of Seville. But the fratricidal struggles during the reign of Peter of Castile ultimately resulted in a change of dynasty in the House of Trastámara in the person of his stepbrother Henry II of Castile, son of King Alfonso XI of Castile and Eleanor de Guzmán.

The baths have a central swimming pool covered with a nave of ten sections of ribbed vault flanked by two side aisles. In the reign of Philip III a Mannerist fountain was added at the end of the central pool of which some remains are conserved and also a cannon vault opened from the Garden of the Dance, but they are closed to the public because they preserve Renaissance wall paintings between 1565 and 1579 by Juan Díaz, Juan de Saucedo, Juan Chacón and Gonzalo Pérez. Although they are restored after their rediscovery in 1997, they are very delicate to preserve and are now being restored again.

Mudéjar Palace[edit]

Mudéjar Palace
Facade of the Mudéjar Palace

Once again in the Patio de la Montería, a backbone of the whole, on its south side, in axis with the entrance from the Puerta del León, the Lion's Courtyard and the Puerta de la Montería is the Mudéjar Palace, start to built by Peter of Castile supposing the destruction of the Almohad buildings of the enclosure III, the change in the access system marking that new axis described and the disappearance of the urban Islamic scheme.

In any case, according to Almagro, only part of a much more ambitious project could have materialized that was truncated by the Civil War, since what was intended would have been to have turned the patio into the great distributing space of three great reformed palaces: the Gothic palace to the east, the Mudéjar palace to the south and a great palace to the west that would be the main room of the whole enclosure and that neither began, in what today occupies what is conserved of the Casa de Contratación de Indias created by Isabella of Castile in 1503.

The Palace of Peter of Castile was erected between 1356 and 1366 as a more private area, but without losing its symbolic and representative sense, regarding the more formal character of the Gothic Palace, used for large meetings and court hearings taking advantage of its large halls and its direct access from the croisser of the patio, uses that have been maintained, paradoxically, until the present time.

Its construction denotes a subtle Mudéjarism because the forms are more clearly Islamic, but its spatial articulation sought to solve needs different from those of a Muslim palace, having as precedents also, of course, the Nasrid architecture of Muhammad V in Granada, the two palaces built a few years earlier by the monarch and his wife, Doña María de Padilla, in Tordesillas and Astudillo, both of whom were later converted into convents of the Poor Clares, believing that the same craftsmen from Seville, Granada and Toledo worked in all three.

The façade, perhaps the most characteristic image of the entire Alcazar, is unheard of in Islamic tradition, for it is imperative to make a display of wealth outside the houses so as not to offend the poor who pass before it. But the needs of the new Christian principal were different, as the facades conform as a demonstration of the category of its owner.

The current provision is the result of different transformations throughout its history. It stands out for its majesty, with a composition similar to that of Comares of the Alhambra of Granada although somewhat coarser. It is composed of three modules with two bodies, the central one with a cover organized by means of a lantern decorated with ataurique flanked by blind polyhedra lateral arches prolonged in Sebka Sevillan almohade, a strip of other blind polylobulated arches on Caliphal reused columns and rich vegetal decoration and heraldry, a second body with the windows of the upper floor, a rectangular registry with aspect of adtelled lintel made with blue glazed ceramic pieces embedded in the stone wall forming an inscription in Cuphic script in which eight times reads the Nasrid motto "And no winner but Allah "surrounded by another 14th-century Gothic lettering dedicated to Peter of Castile.

El mui alto et muy noble et mui poderoso et muy conqueridor Don Pedro por la gracia de Dios rey de Castiella et de León, maneo (sic por mandó) fazer estos alcaçares et estos palacios et estas portadas que fue fecho en la era de mill et quatrocientos y eos.

The façade is topped by an impressive wooden teak with Mozarabic decoration.

This central module of the facade has been interpreted as a sublime door, an outer throne following an Eastern tradition, the place before which the king sat presiding over the supreme judicial court to impart justice.

The side streets present a first body of the old arches that would surround the patio, probably covered in the end of the 15th century and reopened in 1937. They are composed of four semicircular arches perched on pillars on each side, all done in brick. Those on the left side are slightly larger than those on the right because of the asymmetry of the facade caused by the forced foot to locate the cover on the visual axis that crosses the successive doors of the new access arranged by Peter of Castile. On these arcs was located a canopy of canes inclined to the Nasrid style as a roof top, and the high floor walls, smooth, with a span on each side and topped by a simple cornice, were set back from the line of lower arches. But with an extension of the second floor made during the reign of Charles V by the architect Luis de Vega, this second height was organized by two galleries with a half-point central arch, flanked by groups of three arches also perched on thin marble columns, repeating the decoration again in Sebka. The roof of this high floor corresponds to an intervention of mid-19th century after a fire in 1762 that destroyed part of the upper floor.

Patio of the Dolls[edit]

The access to the private part, around the Patio of the Dolls, was realized through another corridor in bend that is to the right of the vestibule.

Cuarto Real Alto[edit]

Another of the most original characteristics of this palace was the presence of a high floor, the mentioned Cuarto Real Alto, on the north wing, where the main rooms were, and on the south wing, with apartments open to the garden.

The main rooms, with access by means of two staircases, perhaps an official and a private one, were characterized by a vestibule, a long hall parallel to the courtyard destined for the courtiers and an almost square room like Qubba, like private reception room or Chamber of Audiences, with a balcony open to the main façade in the Patio de la Montería and whose external volume sticks behind the cover emphasizing its symbolism. Access to the apartments open to the south garden, perhaps dependencies of winter use, was made by other stairs in the eastern corner of the courtyard.

The works of Luis de Vega in the 16th century consisted of the reorganization of the Cuarto Real Alto to convert it into the winter palace of Charles V, adding a second perimeter gallery of circulation composed of balustrades marked on their pedestals by weapons and Imperials Plus Ultra and semicircular arches with Plateresque yeseria decoration supported by single or double Ionic columns.

Moorish Kings' Bedroom[edit]

Moorish Kings' Bedroom

The lower north cradle houses two parallel rooms known as the Moorish Kings' Bedroom or Royal Bedroom. The access is a large half-point arch flanked by twin windows and consists of two rectangular rooms, the Royal Room, covered with Moorish-Renaissance armor that combines geometric elements with resurgent motifs, and the king's separate summer bedroom Of the previous one by means of an arcade of triple horseshoe framed by an alfiz on which are placed three blind windows adorned with rich latticework.

Hall of the Roof of Charles V[edit]

In the south low bay is the Hall of the Roof of Charles V, believed to have been originally the chapel of the palace, in which the coffered ceiling stands out, one of the most remarkable Renaissance decks of the Alcázar.

Hall of Ambassadors[edit]

Hall of Ambassadors

From the lower western gallery of the Patio de las Doncellas, through a large arch that preserves the original doors, made by Toledan carpenters with leaves carved in pine wood coffered, gold and polychrome with epigraphic Arabic decoration on their external faces and in Castilian in the internal, it was acceded, through an anteroom that symbolized the separation between the subjects and the monarch, to another Qubba, the main room of the palace, used for private receptions, surely constructed because the one that is located on the vestibule and that stood out on the facade of Montería had a complicated access by a narrow staircase and did not serve for the symbolic functions of representation of the power that the monarch intended. Although believed to be unfinished, it is thought that the idea would have been to cover it with an octagonal tundish armor similar to the one preserved by the Hall of Justice of the Patio del Yeso.

Later converted into the Hall of Ambassadors, it now retains the square floor and shows azulejo plinths, walls richly decorated with polychrome yeseria that opens to three of its sides by triple horseshoe arches supported by columns of stems of different colors and caliph capitals in turn encompassed by another great horseshoe arch and a frieze-covered with the portraits of fifty-six Spanish kings, from Recesvint to Philip III, identified by their name, their heraldry and the dates of their reign, in addition to thirty and two ladies, on which stands a semi-spherical vault with golden Mocárabes pendants made by Diego Ruiz in 1427 to which at the end of 16th century, after modifying the second plant to the set, four balconies were opened to it, one for each side.

Hall of the Ceiling of Philip II[edit]

The Hall of the Ceiling of Philip II or of the half cane is an extended area parallel to all this western crust of the Mudéjar Palace and receives the second name by the form of its coffered ceiling.

From this room, through a gallery, it can start the tour of the gardens of the Alcázar, a fundamental part of it, with various transformations throughout the centuries and combining Arab, Renaissance and contemporary features, arranged on terraces and with several fountains and pavilions and countless plant species.

To the left of the Hall of Ambassadors are the bedrooms occupied by the infantes in the time of the Catholic Monarchs and all stand out for their decoration, where azulejo tiles, yeseria and Mudéjar roofs are repeated.

To the right of the Hall of Ambassadors, around the Patio of the Dolls, are located the private rooms that were destined to the crown prince, don John, born in the alcázar. This patio, of small dimensions and quadrangular plant, owes its name to the faces that appear in several of its arches. It only preserves the Mudéjar basement, for in the 19th century, during the reign of Isabel II, when the palace became the residence of the dukes of Montpensier, it was enlarged by adding the mezzanine, upper gallery and huntery. They emphasize the caliph horns with horns of hornet that support bows canals scalloped in Sebka.

Room of the Prince[edit]

Bedroom of the Prince
Ceiling in the Bedroom of the Prince

To both sides of the patio are the Hall of the Lost Steps and the Hall of the Catholic Kings and of opposite is located the Room of the Prince.

During the reign of the Catholic Monarchs the central garden structure with flower beds and fountains of the Patio de las Doncellas was no longer adequate, let alone in the reign of Philip II, when it was decided to level the entire space in height, eliminating the central pool and the lateral gardens to cover it with marble floors, it is believed that in black and white checkerboard, although in successive centuries it underwent different modifications, to turn it into a yard, much more useful to develop the strict protocol of the Augsburg and more in agreement with the new aesthetic tastes, which shows the low gallery of lobed arches and the high gallery added in the 16th century that completely changes the general aspect of the area. But the aforementioned recent recovery of the garden of Peter of Castile does not seem to have taken into account these circumstances, more taking into account that it is believed that the garden never got to conclude nor to function as such, surely buried after the murder of Peter of Castile.

In the 18th century, during the stay of Philip V during the so-called "Royal Luster", the entire upper floor was redecorated and currently is not accessible on a regular tourist visit, which is limited to the ground floor, because Is of private use for the actual royal family, administered by Patrimonio Nacional. It can be accessed by paying a supplement but it is not advertised in any brochure. It has a vestibule, a conserved hall from the time of the Catholic Monarchs, an oratory and a viewpoint also from this period, an official chamber or audience, the gala dining room, built during the reign of Philip II, which was Peter of Castile's bedroom. The ceramic altar of the oratory is a transcendental work of Niculoso Pisano because it was the first cloth executed in Seville with polychrome smooth azulejo, dated 1504.

18th-century gallery and the Stables[edit]

To finish with this architectural route, after returning to the Patio de la Montería and crossing the 18th century gallery that runs along the north facade of the Patio del Crucero, and from the entrance to the enclosure, we arrive at the Stables, a large rectangular hallway with three naves separated by columns built in the time of Philip V by the architect Vermondo Resta, in contact with new stables and open to the Patio de Banderas, a large rectangular area that functioned as Plaza de Armas of the military precinct of the Alcázar, the oldest part of the complex, which receives that name because in it were placed the flags that indicated the presence of the king in the palace. Its present aspect corresponds to the renovation of its facade in times of Philip IV and to the reconstruction of the Room of the Mayor in the south façade and the renovation of a series of Almohad houses in the north side like house of offices to receive the doctor, the chaplain, to the apothecary, to the intendant and other necessary positions to the Royal House in the lustrum between 1729 and 1733 in which the court of Philip V was lodged in the Alcázar.

Detail Gallery[edit]

The Gardens[edit]

Galería de Grutescos

All the palaces of Al Andalus had garden orchards with fruit trees, horticultural produce and a wide variety of fragrant flowers. The garden-orchards not only supplied food for the palace residents but had the aesthetic function of bringing pleasure. Water was ever present in the form of irrigation channels, runnels, jets, ponds and pools.

The gardens adjoining the Alcázar of Seville have undergone many changes. In the 16th century during the reign of Philip III the Italian designer Vermondo Resta introduced the Italian Mannerist style. Resta was responsible for the Galería de Grutesco (Grotto Gallery) transforming the old Muslim wall into a loggia from which to admire the view of the palace gardens.[13]

The Alcázar Gardens viewed from Galería de Grutescos

Mercury Pond[edit]

View of the Mercury Pond, the reservoir and the Gallery of the Grotesque.

Taking the form of a large pond, located at the highpoint of the palace and thus higher than the rest of the gardens, the reservoir is presided over by the figure of the god Mercury, designed by Diego de Pesquera and cast by Bartolomé Morel in 1576. These men also contributed railings with shields with lions at their corners and 18 balls with pyramidal finials surrounding the pond. All these elements were originally gilded, but only traces remain of the coating. The backdrop is the "Gallery of the Grotesque," which was constructed on an old Almohad wall. Further contributions and a change decoration were made by Vermondo Resta around 1612, making this the most Mannerist section of the Alcázar. It consists of rustically worked stones of different types that simulate marine rocks. These stone elements form quadrangular spaces, and at the halfway point the walls are painted red to mimic red marble. The walls also show mythological figures and exotic birds, painted by Diego de Esquivel in the seventeenth century. The top of gallery is decorated with spires in the form of castle crenelation. In the front of the pond, there is a fountain with a recently restored water organ from the seventeenth century.[14]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Real Alcázar of Seville, Editorial Palacios y Museos, José Barea, 2014, p.47, ISBN 978-84-8003-637-5
  2. ^ "Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville". UNESCO. Retrieved 2009-06-01. 
  3. ^ The Real Alcázar of Seville, Editorial Palacios y Museos, José Barea, 2014, p.5, ISBN 978-84-8003-637-5
  4. ^ Miguel Ángel Tabales Rodríguez (2001). "The Palatine transformation of the Alcázar of Seville, 914-1366" (PDF). Anales de Arqueología Cordobesa (12). pp. 195–213.  ISSN 1130-9741
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Miguel Ángel Tabales Rodríguez (2002). El Real Alcázar de Sevilla. Ages of Seville: Hispalis, Isbiliya, Seville. Área de Cultura del Ayuntamiento de Sevilla. pp. 61–76. ISBN 84-95020-92-0. 
  6. ^ "Royal Alcázar of Seville". 
  7. ^ Sebastián Fernández Aguilera (October–December 2015). The origin of the Palace of Peter of Castile in the Alcázar of Seville: the viewpoint now called of the Catholic Monarchs (PDF). Archivo Español de Arte. pp. 331–348.  ISSN 0004-0428
  8. ^ Olimpia López Cruz, Ana García Bueno and Víctor J. Medina Flórez (2011). The evolution of color in the eaves of the facade of the king D. Peter of Castile, Real Alcázar of Seville. Contributions of the study of materials to the identification of restoration interventions throughout its history. Arqueología de la Arquitectura.  ISSN 1695-2731
  9. ^ Ana Marín Fidalgo (2008). "Ibn Khaldun. Ambassador in the Sevillian court of King Peter of Castile". Ibn Khaldun. The Mediterranean in the fourteenth century. Rise and decline of empires. Fundación El Legado Andalusí. pp. 71–81. ISBN 978-849639521-3. 
  10. ^ Maria Dolores Robador (May 2003). Restoration of Prince's patio and garden. Notes of the Alcázar of Seville. 
  11. ^ Alfonso Pozo Rúiz. "How the King-Emperor came to marry in Seville". University of Seville. 
  12. ^ The Real Alcázar of Seville, Editorial Palacios y Museos, José Barea, 2014, p.10, ISBN 978-84-8003-637-5
  13. ^ The Real Alcázar of Seville, Editorial Palacios y Museos, José Barea, 2014, p.121, ISBN 978-84-8003-637-5
  14. ^ "Apuntes del Alcázar". 
  15. ^ Internet, Unidad Editorial. "El día que Lawrence de Arabia cambió el desierto por Sevilla". 


  • ALMAGRO, A., “The Patio of the Croisser of the Reales Alcázares de Sevilla”, Al-Qantara, XX, 2, 1999, pp. 331-376.
  • ALMAGRO, A., Planimetry of the Alcázar de Sevilla, CSIC, Granada, 2000.
  • ALMAGRO, A., “The recovery of the medieval garden of the Courtyard of the Maidens”, Apuntes del Alcázar de Sevilla, 6, 2005, pp. 44-67.
  • ALMAGRO, A., “The Alcázar of Seville. A Muslim palace for a Christian king”. XI Congress of Medieval Studies "Christians and Muslims in the Iberian peninsula: war, the border and coexistence, León, 23-26 de octubre de 2007, Fundación Sánchez-Albornoz, pp. 333-365.
  • ALMAGRO, A., “The Reales Alcázares de Sevilla”, Artigrama, 22, 2007, pp. 155-185.
  • ALMAGRO, A., “A new interpretation of the Patio of the Casa de Contratación of the Alcázar of Seville ", Al-Qanṭara, Vol. XXVIII, nº 1, 2007, pp. 181-228.
  • ALMAGRO, A., “The palaces of Peter of Castile: architecture at the service of power”, Anales de Historia del Arte, vol. 23, II, 2013, p. 25-49.
  • CÓMEZ, R., “The late medieval Alcázar ", Notes of the Real Alcázar de Sevilla, 14, 2013, pp. 94-137.
  • LLEÓ, V., “El Alcázar”, Notes of the Real Alcázar de Sevilla, 14, 2013, pp. 20-29.
  • MANZANO, R., “The patios and gardens of the Alcázar of Seville”, Notes of the Real Alcázar de Sevilla, 14, 2013, pp. 176-195.
  • MARÍN FIDALGO, A. Mª, “The architecture of the Alcázar in the Age of Charles V”, Notes of the Real Alcázar de Sevilla, 14, 2013, pp. 138-153.
  • ROBADOR, Mª D., “Restoration of the patios and gardens La Galera, Troya and Danza of the Real Alcazár of Seville”, Notes of the Alcázar de Sevilla, nº 8, 2007, pp. 54-93
  • TABALES RODRÍGUEZ, M. Á., The Alcázar of Seville. Reflections on its origin and evolution in the Middle Ages. Archaeological memory 2000–2005, Sevilla, Consejería de Cultura Junta de Andalucía y Patronato del Real Alcázar de Sevilla, 2008.
  • TABALES, M. Á., “Origin and Islamic Alcázar”, Notes of the Real Alcázar de Sevilla, 14, 2013, pp. 118-117.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°23′02″N 5°59′29″W / 37.38389°N 5.99139°W / 37.38389; -5.99139