Declared a World Heritage Site, the Alcázar (fortified palace) is the oldest royal palace in Europe which is still in use.
Its historic background and the spectacular beauty of its buildings and gardens make it one of the most striking and seductive of Spanish monuments. In 913, during the Muslim period, Abd-al-Rahman III built a fortified palace whose remains stand in the oldest parts of the Alcázar.
|In the 11th century, Al-Mutamid, the King of Seville, constructed what he called the Blessed Alcázar. The Almohad caliphs Abu Yaqub Yusuf and Abu Yusuf al-Mansur also built their residences in what today is known as the Patio del Yeso. After the Christian reconquest, Fernando III chose the Alcázar as his place of residence and he lived there until his death in 1252. His son Alfonso X, who also lived there, ordered the construction of the Gothic Palace. The palace was the setting for legends about the romantic lives of Sancho IV, Alfonso XI, and most importantly Pedro I.|
|The latter ordered the construction of the Mudejar palace which forms the main part of the complex which we see today. The Catholic Monarchs and the Austrias carried out further adaptations and reforms to the various palaces and gardens. In 1526 the marriage of Emperor Carlos V to Isabel of Portugal was celebrated in the Alcazar. From 1729 to 1733 Felipe V set up his court there. As it was used as the residence of governors, the illustrious Pablo de Olavide lived there between 1767 and 1775. The exterior gardens were designed during the end of 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Today the Alcázar continues to be the official residence of the Spanish Monarchs during their stays in Seville and in 1995 the wedding of their daughter, Princess Elena, was celebrated there.|
Built between 1364 and 1366, the architecture of the palace combines Christian and Almohad features with a mixture of styles which are typical of Cordoba, Toledo and Nasrid Granada - fantastical Oriental decorative elements mingle with western design.
King Pedro I ordered the construction of the Mudejar palace, the most important building in the Alcazar complex. As a clear demonstration of the acceptance of the qualities of Islamic culture, Pedro I asked his friend Muhamad V of Granada to send him artisans to recreate the exquisite decoration of the Alhambra.
The superb façade leading to the Patio de la Montería (the Hunting courtyard) has a lintelled door, flanked by blind horseshoe arches which are prolonged with diamond shaped panels. On the upper floor are windows decorated with small arches which are supported by columns. The lintel decorated in typical white and blue ceramics which frames the window contains the Nasrid maxim: "There is no conqueror but Allah". Around it, gothic writing reminds us that Pedro I ordered the construction of the palace. The top part is formed by exceptional wooden eaves made by Toledan carpenters. Although the palace originally had only one floor, the Catholic Monarchs ordered the construction of an upper level. It is believed that the courtyard was given its name, as it was here that the king's huntsmen gathered before going hunting.
The Salón de Embajadores (Hall of Ambassadors) was built upon the throne room of the Al-Mutamid palace where the beautiful "Pavones" arch is still preserved (The name pavones refers to the peacock motifs - or pavos- which decorate the arch). During the Al-Mutamid times, the room was known as the "Pleiades hall" as it was here that the king used to hold literary soirees.
|A semi-spherical dome representing the sky covers the cube-shaped ceiling, which symbolises the earth, and together they represent the Universe as a whole. A beautiful ceramic tile plinth, magnificent coloured plasterwork, and triple arcades supported by caliph-style capitals are used to decorate the cube.|
|The magnificent half-orange wooden dome is decorated with intricate plasterwork patterns in the shape of a star symbolising the heavenly sphere. It was constructed by Diego Ruiz in 1427 (in the time of Juan II). Its golden colour enhances the luxury of this richly decorated room. Images of the Spanish kings from the Visigoth Recesvinto to Felipe III are depicted along a frieze dating from the end of the 16th century. The small mirrors encased in the openings of the latticework were added in the 19th century.|
The palace of Pedro I is structured around two courtyards -the Doncellas (Maidens) around which are the official quarters and Las Muñecas (dolls) which surrounds the private rooms.
|The spacious Patio de las Doncellas displays a combination of Mudejar and Plateresque styles. In the centre of the patio, which is encircled by multi-lobed arches, stands a marble fountain. Over the diamond-shaped panels is a frieze depicting the coat of arms of Castile and León and two-headed imperial eagles from the times of Carlos V.|
|The tiled plinths and the golden coloured doors to the various rooms which face the courtyard are magnificent. These are decorated with intricate latticework and particularly fine is the door leading to the Salón de Embajadores. The upper galleries were added in 1540 by Luis de Vega.|
The coolness, delicate plasterwork and filtered light offer a quiet and charming atmosphere which is ideal for relaxing.
The name of this small patio (The Doll's courtyard) is inspired in a series of petite heads of women which are depicted on one of the arches. Originally this patio occupied the centre of the private quarters of Pedro I's palace.
|The coolness, delicate plasterwork, and filtered light, offer a quiet and charming atmosphere which is ideal for relaxing. Its lower floor forms a gallery of round stilted arches supported by columns with black and pink shafts.|
|It is said that king Al-Mutamid ordered the arches to be brought from Cordoba. The landing and the upper gallery are 19th century additions carried out by architect Rafael Contreras and the plasterwork decorations are copied from the Alhambra in Granada.|
Alfonso X gathered a court of intellectuals and poets around him in the Alcazar where he himself spent his leisure time and found inspiration for his works.
Unlike the Mudéjar palace which was later constructed by Pedro I following the oriental style, the gothic palace represented the victory of the Christians over Islam.
|Alfonso X gathered a court of intellectuals and poets around him in the Alcazar where he himself spent his leisure time and found inspiration for his works. Here we can admire the groined vaulted ceiling, plinths decorated in renaissance style in honour of Carlos V, and a collection of tapestries.|
María de Padilla lived in the gothic palace, which Alfonso X built on the remains of the Almohad Alcázar and whose central garden bears her name.
María de Padilla was the true love of Pedro I, who recognised her as his legitimate wife when she died. Today her remains rest next to those of the King's in the crypt of the Cathedral's Royal Chapel.
|She lived in the gothic palace, whose central garden bears her name. The Almohad Jardín del Crucero consisted of two pathways which met in the middle and another one which encircled the garden at the height of the current Patio del Crucero.The paths were covered by domes supported by pillars. In the centre stood a pool and the four spaces were planted with orange trees.|
|The groined vaulted ceilings were added in the 13th century, at the time of the construction of the Gothic Palace. Between 1577 and 1579 a rocky fountain was built at the back of the pool.|
This ceramic masterpiece was the first of its kind in Seville to use the flat polychrome technique.
The oratory forms part of the so called Queen’s Room by Isabel la Católica. Two marble columns divide it with moucharaby capitals finished with golden holm oak leaf cymas, propping up arches decorated with gothic skylights.
|The oratory dominates Niculoso Pisano’s renaissance altar. Completed by the Italian in 1504, this ceramic masterpiece was the first of its kind in Seville to use the flat polychrome technique. The scene depicts the Virgin Mary’s visit to her cousin, Santa Isabel.|
They were designed between the 16th and 17th centuries when the existing Islamic groves were transformed into a magnificent mannerist garden.
The gardens of the Alcázar are a dream-like space in which nature and architecture blend harmoniously. They were designed between the 16th and 17th centuries when the existing Islamic groves were transformed into a magnificent mannerist garden.
|The different parts of the garden were given highly evocative names. They include: the Estanque de Mercurio, Jardín de las Danzas, Gardens of Troya, de la Galera, de las Flores, de las Damas, de la Alcubilla, de la Cruz, de los Poetas. The gardens served as a refuge for poet Joaquín Romero Murube, who for many years was in charge of preserving the Alcázar. The Mercury's Pond is strikingly beautiful. A fountain representing the god Mercury stands in the centre of the pond. The god, a praxitelian sculpture by Diego Pesquera, was forged by Bartolomé Morel in 1577.|
|In the background, is a grotesques gallery made by Milan-born Vermondo Resta in 1612. Using the "opus rusticum" the old Almohad wall was redesigned and transformed into a kind of theatrical setting with architectural elements in an attempt to copy nature. Originally the wall had playful water features and a hydraulic organ whose sound was produced by the pressure of water.|
One of the most important historic events held in the Alcázar was the marriage of Carlos V to his cousin Isabel, the sister of Juan III of Portugal.
Between 1543 and 1546, the Pavilion of Carlos V was built in the gardens with a magnificent mixture of Mudejar and renaissance styles. From the outside, it is in the shape of a cube covered by a four-pitched roof and encircled by round arched galleries.
|The walls are decorated with beautiful coloured tiles and plasterwork in mudejar style (interior) and plateresque motifs (exterior). The low marble fountain standing in the centre, the light filtering through the exterior galleries, and the vegetation surrounding the pavilion create a pleasant and cool atmosphere which is ideal for relaxing.|
|One of the most important historic events held in the Alcázar was the marriage of Carlos V to his cousin Isabel, the sister of Juan III of Portugal. The Emperor arrived in Seville on the 10th of March 1526 to meet his fiancé and, immediately captivated by her beauty, decided to bring forward the wedding which took place in the early hours of the 11th of March, on the eve of Palm Sunday. As a result, Easter was celebrated with an unprecedented solemnity and religious observance which was followed by splendid celebrations including jousting, bullfights, and popular fiestas which lasted until the 13th of May, when the Emperor left Seville. Invited to the wedding were illustrious figures such as Baltasar de Castiglione, Juan Boscán, Garcilaso de la Vega and Andrés Navagero.|