Royal Alcazar

A 1000 years ago, the Moorish king of Seville, Al-Mutamid, built a royal palace, the Alcazar. After the Christian kings took over Seville in 1248, the Alcazar was expanded, remodeled, and decorated by Moorish artisans in a style similar to the Alhambra. As a royal residence, kings and queens were married and princes were born in the Alcazar, and this is where the Spanish king stays when he's in Seville today.

Tip: The Alcazar is one of our favorite places in Spain, and it's just as beautiful as the Nasrid palaces at the Alhambra, but without a timed entry and less crowded. There are lots of exquisite rooms to explore, plus the gardens. Allow plenty of time for your visit, and if you have time, go back more than once.

Palaces -
Before you step through the Lion Gateway (the red wall ornamented with a lion above the dooway), go around to the left to look at the towers and walls. The stone walls, six feet thick and topped with diamond point crenelations, are sections of the original 11th century walls.
Hall of Justice and Stucco Patio - The Stucco Patio is the oldest part of the palace, dating back to the 12th century and the Moorish kings. Although the Hall of Justice was built by a Christian king, the room uses Muslim decorations and workmanship (this style is called Mudejar). Look up at the octangonal wooden ceiling, with a golden pineapple design in the center.
Hunting Courtyard - You can choose to go in three different directions from this courtyard: to the palace of Pedro I (straight ahead), Gothic palace (left), or Admirals's quarters (right).
Admiral's Quarters and Chapel - The Alcazar was the headquarters for Spanish trade in the Americas. On the chapel walls are coats of arms of the admirals of Castile, including Columbus, and a gilded altarpiece with the Virgin Mary and other patron saints of sailors (Columbus appears in the painting as a bald guy with white beard).
Palace of Pedro I - King Pedro I is the guy responsible for most exquisite rooms in the Alcazar. In the vestibule, kids can decide whether to go left into the public areas, or take the little tiny doorway into the private areas (this was also the doorway where Pedro could sneak away without his advisors knowing where he went).
Maidens' Patio -In the wooden ceilings, look for the shield of Leon and Castile (lion and castle), and on the walls under the arcade, the Arabic inscription "The only conqueror is God."

Hall of Ambassadors - What a sumptuous room! Every inch of the four walls is covered with exquisite geometic tile and plasterwork designs. Dragons hold up the balconies, and the ceiling is a shimmering golden dome, representing the stars in the heavens!

Private rooms - Kids will have fun visiting the Catholic Monarch's bedroom, Isabel's bedroom, and Doll's Patio (with two small mysterious heads into the white archways), originally the center of the Moorish harem.
Gothic Palace - In the Tapestry Room, the walls are covered with action-packed tapestries, documenting Charles V battles and victories in the Mediterranean.
Gardens -
On a hot day, the gardens are an oasis - cooling fountains, birds singing, fragrant smells of flowering plants and trees, peacocks strolling through the greenery. Each fountain has a different sound, and are quite individual. In one garden, the fountain is a mossy dribble castle, shaped to look like Mt. Parnassus. In others, classical figures, such as statues of Mercury or Neptune, emerge from the water. In one garden, water from a single pool flows down channels through a series of fountains (follow and see where it goes).
Pond Garden - A large pool with a two-story Italianate Grotto Gallery on one side (originally the gallery was the 12th century defensive walls, and the pool was the water supply for the palace). Climb up the narrow passageways to the second level and walk to the end of the gallery for a bird's eye view of the gardens below.
Maze - Kids will want to explore the maze, rows of myrtle hedges topped with huge cypress arches (don't worry, you can get out if you get lost).
Alcove Garden - In the center of this garden is the Charles V Pavilion, where the king came to relax. The walls, inside and out, are completely covered in tiles (made in Seville). Also, check out the lovely lion fountain next to the pavilion.
The cafe in the eastern side of the gardens has cold drinks and snacks, in the shade.
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