The Reales Alcazares, Alcázar
The Reales Alcazares, Alcázar
 Plaza del Triunfo s/n
City Seville
The Reales Alcazares have been occupied and fortified by all the civilisations that have settled in Seville. In 913, Abd ar-Rahman III built an alcazaba or fortress, the bailey of which is the present day Patio de Banderas. In the eleventh century, al-Mutamid, the poet king, extended the alcazaba to build his palace, which was later re-built by the Almohads. Ferdinand III lodged here following the city's conquest, converting it into Seville's palace for Spanish monarch's. Philip V installed his court here for four years from 1729 to 1733.Practically all monarch's have re-developed or enlarged some part of these palaces, though it was AlfonsoXI and Peter I who in the fourteenth centurt, built the largest constructions, creating the rooms of greatest artistic value.

Allow at least 2 hours to go through the palace complex and visit the gardens with their fountains and pavilions. You'll enter through the Puerta del León (Lion's Door), which is flanked by two towers. Continue straight ahead into the Patio de la Montería, where the court once assembled. In the audience chamber here, you can see a replica of the Santa María and an impressive altarpiece, Virgin of the Navigators, which was painted by Alejo Fernández in 1531.
A visit begins at the Puerta del Leon, which opens up the Arab walls. To the left of the entrance courtyard is the Sala de la Justica, the Justice Room built by Alfonso XI, decorated with rich plasterwork, fine panelling and a spout in the centre. Next to it is the Almohad Patio del Yeso, a long rectangular garden with borders and a central canal. The sense of lightness of the whitewashed hanging yeso or plasterwork and the column supports are the main features. The portico sides and the importance of water resemble the courtyards in the Alhambra.

Other landmarks in this palace include the Salón de Embajadores (Ambassadors' Hall), constructed in 1427 and dominated by an impressive cedar-wood cupola that is often described as a "half orange." This hall also has a trio of symmetrically arranged and ornate arches, each one with three horseshoe arches.

The Salón del Techo is notable for its coffered ceiling, and the Patio de las Muñecas (Dolls' Court) is small, but splendidly and delicately ornamented; it was also designed by the Alhambra's craftsmen.

The Salones de Carlos V lie to the immediate right, facing Pedro's palace. These rooms are decorated with beautiful 16th-century azulejos (tiles), and contain a stunning collection of 16th-century tapestries from Brussels that depict the life of the emperor and his conquest of Tunis in 1535.

Save time for the gardens, a wonderful oasis from the heat of a summer day. The Jardín Inglés, modeled on 18th-century English gardens, dates to 1909, and the Jardín de los Poetas (Poets' Garden) features two ponds evocative of those once designed by the Arabs
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