The Real Alcázar in Sevilla is truly a site to behold which sits right in the heart of the city. The palace dominates the area surrounding it and is full of intricate details. Inside these walls is also a gorgeous garden made even more famous by a certain HBO show.
Multiple cultures, multiple architecture styles
A mixture of Muslim, Jewish and Christian influence can be seen all around the palace. The reason behind this requires a bit of a history lesson. Originally settled by the Romans, the city of Sevilla was established around the 2nd century and flourished. In 711, Sevilla was then conquered by Moors (Muslims). People from all different religions lived in harmony during this time and the city enjoyed great prosperity for hundreds of years. It was during this time, in the 11th century, that the Moors built the Alcázar to serve as a fortress. In 1248-49, the territory was conquered by the Castilians (Christians), and Real Alcázar became a Royal Residence for which it is still used to this day!
The good news for us is each subsequent monarch that lived in the Alcázar had admiration for what came before. So, they added things to keep up with changing tastes and fashions but never took away. This is why were are left with a variety of influences and such a well preserved building.
If you can see in the photo below, there is definite Moorish influence in some of the arches and carvings on the facade of the building. In the close up photo you’ll see blue tile work which actually spell out something (I can’t remember what!) in Arabic.
We booked a private, guided tour so we got to skip the (very long) line. Since we got in first, we could see the palace before there were hoards of people around. Hence, the seemingly empty places in my photos 🙂 I would recommend at least buying online and getting an audio guide. It meant so much more to be able to learn about the history of everything while we were there.
The details around the building are just incredible! Moorish architecture is all about symmetry and is reflected all around the palace. The Moors were also very well traveled which you can see in all the different kinds of materials they used. Islamic art never portrays people and animals so the carvings are filled with patterns that look like nature such as leaves, flowers or stars.
It may be hard to tell from photos but the Real Alcázar takes up several city blocks. This place was not only built to show off but also to be intimidating! They used large rooms and lots of them to overwhelm the peasants that would come to have their problems heard. Our guide told us that many times people had to wait hours or even days inside to talk to the royal family. Can you imagine what they would have thought walking into this massive building back then?
Not just indoor space
If you don’t leave yourself time to explore the gardens here, you are missing out on half the grandeur of this palace. Game of Thrones fans will also be transported to the land of Dorne as the gardens were used during filming. The style of the garden was such an interesting mix of structured elements that seemed very “old world European” and tropical elements like the palm trees. We don’t get palm trees in Minnesota so I love seeing gardens that feature them.
I think my favorite parts were the sheer amount of intricate detail that was crammed into every space as well as the lush, unique gardens. If you are heading to Sevilla, the Real Alcázar should be at the top of your list!
Tell me more, tell me more
Hours? April to September: Monday-Sunday they are open 9:30 to 7:00 PM.
Cost? For just the ground floor tour: €11.50
Best time to go? First thing in the morning and pre-book your tickets on line. This will save a long wait in line!
For more information, head to their website here.
For more posts on what to see and do in Sevilla, click here!