Known as the Royal Alcazar, Seville’s Royal Palace was originally a Moorish fort built in the 10th century by the first Caliph of Andalucía. The construction of the current Royal Alcázar began in the 14th century. It is the best example of Mudejar architectural style in Spain, although Islamic, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements can be found as well.
Alcázar is a Spanish word, synonym of fortified castle. Actually, it comes from the Arabic word al qasr that means palace or fortress. Many cities in Spain still use Alcázar to name an ancient Muslim palace or royal residence from the time of the Moorish invasion.
Address: Plaza del Triunfo, s/n
Winter (October-March): Mondays to Sundays 9:30 to 17:00
Summer (April-September): Mondays to Sundays 9:30 to 19:00
Alcázar Seville: origins
The site was initially a Roman settlement, later used by the Visigoths. In 712 Seville was conquered by the Arabs, who transformed the building in a palace-fortress. When Fernando III of Castile regained the city in 1248, the Alcázar became the Royal Palace. His son, Alfonso X, initiated the first works and ordered the construction of the Gothic Palace.
Later on, in 1364, Pedro I of Castile, decided to build the Mudejar Palace, definitely the best building of this architectural style in Spain. It’s characterized by being a mixture between Muslim and Christian elements, resulting in a unique design that can be found only in Spain and, to a minor extent, in Portugal.
From then on, some buildings were added and renovations had to be done, mainly because of the devastations the 1755 Lisbon earthquake caused.
The Alcázar has been used in many occasions by the Kings of Spain. Even Juan Carlos I, used it in 1995 for the reception and wedding dinner of his eldest daughter, Elena.
The Alcázar Walking Guided Tour
With over 2,000 years of history, you know you won’t be able to cover every corner of Seville on your own. The best option to discover the highlights of the city is by booking a 3-hour guided tour of the Alcázar.
On top of it, you’ll also go to the Cathedral, the 3rd biggest one in the world. Finally, you’ll end your visit with a relaxed stroll around the Barrío de Santa Cruz, Seville’s historical Jewish quarter.
Your guide will lead a marvelous walk while explaining you with all details the history and intricacies of this magnificent fortress. Don’t hesitate to ask all the questions that you may have. For sure your guide will provide all the answers.
Alcázar Seville: entrance and last Arab traces
The entrance is called the Lion’s Gate (Puerta del León). Just take a look at the tiles on top of the arch and you’ll understand why. Go through it and you’ll cross the 12th century walls to go inside the Alcázar.
You’re now at the Lion’s Courtyard (Patio del León). On the left hand side is the Justice Room (Sala de Justicia) and in front of you, there is part of the old walls of the Arab fortress.
The Justice Room was part of the first Muslim palace and it was the place where the viziers (the Caliph’s lieutenants) used to gather. Next to it is the Plaster Courtyard (Patio del Yeso), basically the only remains of the ancient Muslim palace.
Back to the Lion’s Courtyard, cross the old walls to go to the Courtyard of the Hunt. Its name is derived from the scouts (monteros), who accompanied the king in his hunting parties.
On the right hand side you’ll find the House of Trade (Casa de Contratación). It was built by the Catholic Monarch Isabel I of Castile in 1503 to regulate trade with the New Colonies (i.e. the American continent).
The courtroom, where the Catholic Monarchs (Isabel I of Castile and her husband Fernando II of Aragon) met Columbus after his second voyage, was transformed into a chapel as you can see it nowadays.
Alcázar Seville: the Gothic Palace
On the left hand side of the Lion’s Courtyard, a corridor leads you to the Crossroads Courtyard (Patio del Crucero). The patio was built in the 12th century, during the Arab invasion. Then, Alfonso X added an upper level over the garden, the one you can see today. The original one is 4.7 m (15.4 ft) below. The Lisbon earthquake of 1755 damaged the courtyard and the lower level had to be buried.
The Gothic Palace was built by Alfonso X in 1254 and it served as his court palace. Like the patio, the palace was seriously destroyed by the earthquake. Later works were carried on to restore it, hence the Baroque details.
The palace has three main rooms: the Tapestry Room, the Chapel, and the Gothic Room (also known as the Feast Room). The Tapestry Room had to be built from scratch after the earthquake but the tapestries are Flemish, from the 16th century. The Chapel and Gothic Room have beautiful tiles that cover part of the walls.
From the Gothic Palace, you should go back to the Patio de la Montería and enter the most impressive building of the Alcázar, the Mudejar Palace.
The Alcázar has some beautiful gardens, where you’ll see a curious blend of different gardening styles (Arab, French and Renaissance).
Alcazar Seville: my favorite spots
The façade of the Palacio del Rey Don Pedro (the Mudejar Palace) on the southern side of the Patio de la Montería.
At the Patio del Yeso, take a closer look at the decoration of the arches… magnificent! And don’t miss the reflection of the palace on the pool. I love it!
The Crossroads Courtyard in spring.
The ceramic tiles of the Gothic Room. The colors and figures are a great example of one of Spain’s oldest handcrafts: ceramics.