The Alcázar of Sevilla

As you may have noticed, my post on the Alhambra has yet to appear. That’s because I know it’s going to be long and so I’m waiting for the haze induced by nine hours of timezone shift to clear before tackling it.

So, I thought, I’ll do the easy posts first. Then I took a look at the Alcázar and discovered that I had about as many photos of it as of the Alhambra. Well, here we go…


The Alcázar is deceptive. Being relatively compact and in the middle of Sevilla, one doesn’t immediately appreciate its true size or the magnitude of beauty to be found within. Originally a 10th century Moorish palace, it still functions as one of the royal family’s homes.

The next two photos show us looking back at the ticket-holders’ entrance and then back at the remains of the 10th century Moorish palace, which holds the gates we used to pass into the Courtyard of the Hunt (Patio de la Monteria).

The tour begins at the Courtyard of the Hunt. It has always been the main gathering place in the Alcázar and is today where tourists converge at the start of their visit. The main entrance to the palace lies ahead.

So what’s with the tree? Look closely. I like its weird bumpy bark.

Just inside the main entrance lies the Admiral’s Hall. It serves today as a reception area for official functions and so is relatively empty. I guess the idea is to preserve floor space for chairs or buffet tables or whatever. Anyway, the hall contains some nice paintings, a model of Columbus’ Santa Maria and other things I did not photograph. I managed to snap out of my stupor just before returning to the courtyard and took a couple of photos of womens’ fans.

A small courtyard we passed through on our way back to the main courtyard. That’s my old mate Andy, companion in many cycling adventures, and his wife Danielle. Notice the relative simplicity of decoration here.

This is the entrance to King Pedro I’s Palace. It dates from the 14th century and looks Islamic, but is not. If you look carefully, you can see some Christian motifs mixed in. This transitional style is called Mudejar. You’ll see a lot of this in the part of the palace built by Pedro.

We enter the Courtyard of the Maidens (Patio de las Doncellas). This is the center of King Pedro’s palace. The lower floor was built by Pedro, the upper by Queen Isabella’s grandson, Charles V. Notice the difference in styles, Mudejar below, Renaissance above.

The upper story rooms are part of the current monarch’s living quarters.

Here we go into the extremely decorated Hall of the Ambassadors (Salón de Embajadores).

The Courtyard of the Dolls (Patio de las Muñecas) was reserved for the king’s private family life. The name cones from the tiny doll faces found at the base of one of the arches.

Let’s have a look at some of the rooms that surround the Hall of the Ambassadors.

This is the Charles V Ceiling Room. Charles’ marriage to his cousin Isabella took place here. The marriage united the realms of Spain and Portugal, which I suppose was worth the risk of a little in-breeding. Charles later ordered the Mudejar ceiling replaced with the Renaissance one you see here. This accounts for the somewhat surprising collection of Coats of Arms.

These pretty shutters were all over the palace. I finally found one in a good position to photograph.

The Banquet Hall (Salón Gótico), where the happily married cousins held their wedding reception. City officials and VIPs still host receptions here.

Nothing to see here. These catacombs once held water – a kind of reservoir.

Gasping for breath after all the beauty inside, we emerged into the gardens.

Let’s take a break from the gardens to pop into the Hall of the Tapestries (Salón Tapices).

An impressive map of Europe done as a huge tapestry. The maker is shown at the bottom right. Confusingly, south is up and north is down.

A tapestry commemorating a victory by the Spanish navy. Ah, good times before the British knocked them down a peg.

We now return to the gardens.

A bit of the old defensive wall.

Funny, I always thought that porcelain was a solid material. Perhaps most of what we’ve seen today was a kind of veneer.

Let’s close with Seville oranges. These trees are all over town and smell great. One might think that this would make for an orange lover’s paradise but it does not. Seville oranges are bitter. Not good for juice, not good for munching. They are used mostly to make marmalade.

5 thoughts on “The Alcázar of Sevilla”

  1. About your confusion wrt the tapestry of the world depicting south at the top and north st the bottom: now you know how it feels to be a Canuck living in the True North and looking at Google maps!

    I have never been to Spain, nor Oklahoma. Your trip and blog inspires me to go! Architecture, gardens, landscapes, history all fascinating and stunningly captured in your photos. I want to follow in your footsteps. Thanks for the inspo. I think I’ll make paella for Easter dinner…

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