email
Seville, Spain, Real Alcazar, Andalucia

Spain: Seville Real Alcazar
Spring 2001, 2022

Into the Alcazar Don Pedro's Palace The Gothic Palace The Gardens Baños de Doña Maria de Padilla
Seville Real Alcazar


The Seville Real Alcazar rivals the Alhambra in Granada for Moorish courtyards and fabulous Mudejar architectural decoration.

Into the Alcazar

seville alcazar
Waiting to enter the Alcazar through the Lion Gate.

 

This fabulous Royal Palace grew from the original tenth century Moorish fort. The 11th century Abbadid rulers enlarged the fort and added the palace known as Al-Muwarak (the Blessed), now the western part of the Alcazar. The 12th century Almohad rulers added their own palace east of this, around Patio del Crucero, which was later mostly replaced by Alfonso X with a Gothic palace

seville
The Royal Lion above the Lion Gate.

Finally, Pedro the Cruel of Castile created his stunning masterpiece of Mudejar architecture in the fourteenth century, Don Pedro's Palace. As the Michelin Guide points out, the exuberant adoption of the Mudejar style shows how taken the Christian city was with the Arabian architectural decoration.

seville alcazar
The Alcazar seen from the top of the Giralda - the Lion Gate is on the right, leading to the Patio del Leon with the tall tree.
seville alcazar
Sala de la Justicia
seville alcazar
The magnificent ceiling of the Sala de la Justicia.

Through the Puerta del Leon (Lion Gate) the Patio del Leon was once the garrison yard of the Al-Muwarak palace. A side door leads into the 14th century Sala de la Justicia, created by the Christian King Alfonso XI. It is decorated in sumptuous Mudejar style with panels of intricately carved plaster work.

seville alcazar
seville alcazar
Fountain in the Sala de la Justicia; the rill leads into the Patio del Yeso.

 

seville alcazar
Patio del Yeso 2022.

Through the Hall is the 12th century Patio del Yeso, part of the Almohad palace. A lovely Moorish garden, enclosed within four walls, with a hedged lily pond.

seville alcazar
Patio del Yeso 2001.

 

seville alcazar
Patio del Yeso
seville alcazar

Back to the Patio del Leon and into the Patio de la Montera. This was the place where the Royal court met before embarking on a hunt. Within it is the fine Mudejar facade of Don Pedro's Palace.

seville alcazar
Patio de la Montera

 

Don Pedro's Palace

seville alcazar
Staircase leading to Cuarto Real Alto, the furnished royal apartments, which we did not visit.

Pedro had a long alliance with the Muslim emir of Granada, Mohammed V who was responsible for much of the decoration of the Alhambra. When Pedro decided to build his new palace in 1364, Mohammed sent many of his top craftsmen to work alongside others from Seville and Toledo to create this supremely beautiful fusion of Islamic and Christian artistic traditions.

seville alcazar
Don Pedro's Palace
seville alcazar
Patio de las Munecas

Inside Don Pedro's Palace, Patio de las Doncellas is surrounded by fabulous rooms, and a smaller patio, Patio de las Munecas, lies at its south west corner.

The Patio de las Munecas (Patio of the Dolls) is so named, apparently, for the dolls' heads carved into one of the arches.

seville alcazar
Patio de las Munecas 2001
seville alcazar
Patio de las Munecas
seville alcazar
Sala de los Pasos Perdidos

 

 

All of the rooms around the much larger Patio de las Doncellas can be accessed directly from it, including Sala de los Pasos Perdidos (Hall of the Lost Steps), on the west side of Patio de las Munecas.

 

Patio de las Doncellas (Patio of the Maidens) is exquisite and was the centre of Don Pedro's palace. The sunken garden was uncovered by archaeologists in 2004, having lain beneath a marble floor for 500 years.

 

 

seville alcazar
seville alcazar
Patio de las Doncellas (Patio of the Maidens).
seville alcazar
Patio de las Doncellas
seville alcazar
On the octagonal tower over the Patio de las Doncellas.
seville alcazar
seville alcazar
seville alcazar
Patio de las Doncellas
seville alcazar
seville alcazar
seville alcazar

 

seville alcazar
seville alcazar
seville alcazar
seville alcazar

The ceilings, tiled walls and carved wood doors are in a multitude of different patterns.

 

seville alcazar
Arched alcove on the north side of Patio de las Doncellas.
seville alcazar
seville alcazar
seville alcazar
Arches on the north side of Patio de las Doncellas.
seville alcazar
seville alcazar

 

 

seville alcazar
Entrance to Alcoba Real from Patio de las Doncellas.
seville alcazar
Entrance to Alcoba Real from Patio de las Doncellas.
seville alcazar
Detail on the entrance to Alcoba Real from Patio de las Doncellas.
seville alcazar
One of the side alcoves of Alcoba Real; drapes would originally have hung from the arches.

Alcoba Real, north of Sala de los Pasos Perdidos, takes up most of the west side of Patio de las Doncellas .

seville alcazar
Horseshoe arches separate the two main rooms of Alcoba Real.
seville alcazar

This beautiful long room, the royal bedroom, is flanked by alcoves, with a large chamber directly opposite the entrance from the patio which has a beautiful triple horseshoe arch separating it from the larger room.

seville alcazar
Looking back from Alcoba Real to Patio de las Doncellas.
seville alcazar
The ceiling of the large chamber in Alcoba Real.

 

seville alcazar
Horseshoe arch detail.
seville alcazar
Mudejar ceiling of the north chamber of the Salon del Techo de Carlos V.

Across from the Alcoba Real, on the east side of Patio de las Doncellas, is the Salon del Techo de Carlos V - the Room of the Roof of Charles V. It is named for the dark timber coffered ceiling installed in the mid 16th century by Emperor Charles V (Charles I of Spain). Charles I of Spain was one of the most powerful Spanish monarchs, he ruled from 1515 to 1556 during the age when Spanish explorers ruthlessly conquered the Aztecs and Incas, stealing huge amounts of gold and other precious goods. As the crown was entitled to one fifth of their vast treasure it became very rich. He became Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1519 and ruled over vast swathes of Europe. This room was once the chapel of the palace of Don Pedro I.

seville alcazar
Detail of the ceiling of the north chamber (above) and the wall decoration of the main chamber (below) with the symbols of Leon (lion) and Castile (castle). The diagonal bar (called a bend in heraldry) in the mouths of dragons is the Royal Bend of Castile, the heraldic device of Castilian monarchs.

seville alcazar
seville alcazar
Detail of the exit from the main room to the south chamber of Salon del Techo de Carlos V.
seville alcazar
Floor of the south chamber of Salon del Techo de Carlos V.

 

It is actually three rooms, the central being the largest, connected by arches. The north chamber has a Mudejar coffered ceiling with heraldic symbols of Leon and Castile - the lion and castle. The central long chamber has the Renaissance coffered ceiling (which I'm not ken on!) and the southern chamber has a most beautiful decorated timber ceiling and patterned, tiled floor.

seville alcazar
The main room of Salon del Techo de Carlos V.
seville alcazar
Exit from the main room to the south chamber of Salon del Techo de Carlos V.
seville alcazar
Ceiling of the south chamber of Salon del Techo de Carlos V.
seville alcazar
Sala de los Infantes

South from the Salon del Techo de Carlos V, on the south east corner of Patio de las Doncellas, is the rectangular Sala de los Infantes or Children's Room. This rectangular room has a very beautiful ceiling and tiled floor.

seville alcazar
Floor of Sala de los Infantes.
Lion of Leon, the Imperial double-headed eagle of the House of Hapsburg, Plus Ultra between the pillars of Hercules from the Coat of Arms of Spain. The missing square once showed the castle of Castile.
seville alcazar
seville alcazar
seville alcazar
Sala de los Infantes 2001
seville alcazar

 

The Salon de los Embajadores (Ambassadors' Room) also known as Salon de Trono (Throne Room) stretches along the south side of Patio de las Doncellas. It is composed of three chambers, the central being the largest and sumptuously decorated, every inch of the walls covered with colourful and intricate plaster work, topped by a magnificent dome.

seville alcazar
seville alcazar

 

seville alcazar
Salon de los Embajadores
seville alcazar
seville alcazar

 

This room was originally Pedro the First's throne room.

The dome, from 1427, is in the shape of a half orange and the room is sometimes called Sala de la Media Aranja (Hall of the Half Orange).

There is a balcony in the upper level of each of the four walls, and on the same level are 56 paintings on wood of monarchs from Chindasvinto to Felipe III, each holding a sword in the right hand and an orb in the left.

seville alcazar
seville alcazar
seville alcazar
Salon de los Embajadores from one of the side chambers.
seville alcazar
In a room on the SE corner of the complex of rooms surrounding Patio de las Doncellas, east of Salón del Techo de Felipe II.

South of the Salon de los Embajadores is the Salón del Techo de Felipe II. The triple horseshoe arch between the two is magnificent, known as Arco de los Pavones for the peacocks in its upper quadrants.

seville alcazar
Arco de los Pavones

Salón del Techo de Felipe II is named for its coffered Renaissance ceiling.

seville alcazar
Cuarto del Principe

 

 

 

 

Just west of this complex of rooms surrounding Patio de las Doncellas is the Cuarto del Principe, the Prince's Quarters, has chambers at each end, the Queen's Bedroom to the north and the Prince's Bedroom to the south with access to the gardens

 

 

 

seville alcazar
The Prince's Bedroom (left) and the main chamber of the Cuarto del Principe.

 

 

 

seville alcazar
Queen's Bedroom

 

The Gothic Palace

seville alcazar gothic palace
Great Hall with gothic arches; the door at the end leads into the chapel.

Adjacent to Don Pedro's Palace, on the north side, is the Gothic palace of Alfonso X (1252-1284), though it has been much altered through the age,particularly by Carlos I (Holy Roman Emperor Carlos V).

seville alcazar gothic palace
Chapel

The Great Hall of the palace was decorated with colourful tiles to a height of around 2 meters for the wedding of Carlos I to Isabel of Portugal.

Next to the Great hall is the Tapestry Hall with a series of enormous tapestries on the theme of Charles I's conquest of Tunis.

The two halls are the same length and at one end there is access to a chapel which stretches across the width of both.

seville alcazar gothic palace
Isabel of Portugal and Carlos I.
seville alcazar gothic palace
seville alcazar gothic palace
seville alcazar gothic palace
seville alcazar gothic palace
Tapestry Room
seville alcazar gothic palace

 

The Gardens

seville alcazar gardens

 

The gardens of the Alcazar are extensive. Several small, quite formal gardens are overlooked directly by rooms of Don Pedro's Palace. Larger Jardin de la Danza is adjacent to the Gothic Palace on its east side with further smallish gardens on the north side of the Gothic Palace.

Extending outwards from these are vast gardens which have been created where there used to be orchards.

We explored only a fraction of these gardens, they would take a good few hours to cover completely.

seville alcazar gardens
seville alcazar gardens
Gruta de las Sultanas
seville alcazar gardens
Pavilion of Carlos V
seville alcazar gardens
In the background is the Gothic Palace.
seville alcazar gardens
East end of the Galerķa de los Grutescos.
seville alcazar gardens
Fuente de la Fama

A long wall of galleries stretches east from the north end of the Gothic Palace. This is the Galería de los Grutescos dating from the 16th century but based on an old wall from the Islamic era.

seville alcazar gardens
Estanque de Mercurio (Mercury Pond) at the west end of the Galería de los Grutescos.

seville alcazar gardens
Estanque de Mercurio

In the centre of the wall is the Fuente de la Fama, a 17th century hydraulic organ, one of only four left in the world. During the day, on the hour, music is played created by water pressure in the pipes of the organ.

At the west end of the Galería de los Grutescos, adjacent to the Gothic Palace, is the Estanque de Mercurio (Mercury Pond), named for the small statue of Mercury on a fountain at its centre.

seville alcazar gardens
Fish in the Estanque de Mercurio

 

Baños de Doña Maria de Padilla

underground baths
Baños de Doña Maria de Padilla

 

 

Beneath the Patio del Crucero (Patio of the Cross, on the north east corner of Patio de la Montera next to the Gothic Palace, entrance Jardin de la Danza) are the Baños de Doña Maria de Padilla - a beautiful but eery place and very cool! Doña Maria was said to have been pursued by Pedro the Cruel, most persistently after her husband died, until finally, to rid herself of his advances, she disfigured her face with boiling oil.

Legend has it that these were her baths, but in fact this is a 12th century water cistern.