More Sevillian Delights - the Reales Alcázares

Community Highlights Europe More Sevillian Delights - the Reales Alcázares

Resuming my account of our 10 favourite Seville experiences, here is the 6th. I thought I could do all 5 in one post but the Alcázares was so amazing and I took so many pictures that it gets its own post.

6. The Reales Alcázares, especially the gardens


I imagine the Reales Alcázares is the most famous and popular Seville attraction, along with the Catedral de Santa María de la Sede (the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See), better known as Seville Cathedral, and its Giralda Tower. We admired the Cathedral, the largest Gothic church in the world, from the outside but did not tour it. It is a Christian cathedral imposed on and around a mosque. Many Spanish rulers were baptized there and Christoper Columbus and his son are buried there.

The Giralda is the bell tower of the Cathedral and was built as the minaret for the Great Mosque of Seville, during the reign of the Almohad dynasty, with a Renaissance-style belfry added by the Catholics after the expulsion of the Muslims from the area. The tower is one of the most famous monuments of Moorish architecture in Spain. It has a beautiful bronze weathervane on the top, added in 1568 and was removed and restored in 2005. Giralda means “weathervane”. You can climb the tower for a view of the city. We did not do that either.


I particularly liked the Cathedral and Giralda at night.


We instead toured the adjacent Alcázares palace complex. This royal palace is on the site of the Islamic-era citadel, begun in the 10th C and was progressively added onto until the Castilian conquest in 1248, when it was rebuilt and replaced with new palaces and gardens, including the Mudéjar-style palace built by Pedro I in the 1360s. Mudéjar means a partly Gothic, partly Islamic style of architecture and art prevalent in Spain in the 12th to 15th C.


There is also a wonderful Arab bathing area under one of the palaces. You could imagine how cooling it would be in the heat of the summer.


With the exception of the walls, nearly all previous buildings were demolished in the mid-1100s by the Caliph, and a total of 12 palaces and courtyards were built. But there are few remnants of the Islamic era construction today. Following the Castilian conquest and the imposition of Christianity, new palaces, rooms and gardens were built. Successive rulers, Ferdinand Ill, Alphonso Xl, Pedro l, Fernando and Isabella imposed their own buildings and gardens on the site. What is most distinctive about the construction as it remains, is the mix of architectural styles, the beautiful tile decorations, a room of enormous tapestries and the many gardens & water elements.


The palace complex is made up of several palaces and the palaces are built around courtyards, each with its own unique features. The extensive gardens, located within the complex, reflect the beauty of Islamic design. The gardens feature stunning fountains, rills, flowers, fruit trees, hedging, a maze, many place to sit and contemplate the beauty around you, as well as other small buildings. The gardens were quite wonderful both viewed from above in the palaces, from a long elevated gallery and from the ground.


After reading a recommendation to visit the Alcázares later in the day rather than the morning to avoid the morning crowds, we did and were happy to find it uncrowded. We had a wonderful time wandering around by ourselves and stayed until closing. I wanted to move in.


What was a little odd during our visit is that we realized they were lighting the gardens for a illumination event that would happen after we would leave Seville. So there were technicians seeing up flood lights and ropes of lights everywhere. It made taking photos a bit tricky, avoiding having cables and lights in the shots. It would be quite a fabulous show I think, in that beautiful space.


There are of course ongoing restoration projects here and it was interesting to see these ‘before’ photos in an area being worked on. There must be a lot of jobs in Europe for people with these very specialized skills.


I hope you enjoyed this mini-tour of the extraordinarily beautiful Reales Alcázares in Seville.


This featured blog entry was written by Jenniferklm from the blog Cycling in Andalucia.
Read comments or Subscribe

By Jenniferklm

Posted Mon, Feb 19, 2024 | Spain | Comments