The history of Seville, one of the oldest cities in Spain, contains many fascinating pages. And their living embodiment become architectural monuments. The Alcázar Palace in Seville is known as the oldest palace in Europe and is still in use for its intended purpose. It was built in the Moorish style and its condition is carefully maintained, allowing descendants to admire the skill of the ancient architects.
The Alcázar complex in Seville stretches over an area of 55 thousand square kilometers, and is considered one of the largest in Spain and is among the main attractions of the country. It is interesting that such a luxurious palace did not arise immediately. In 720 it was replaced by a modest fort. Then it was repeatedly expanded and rebuilt in accordance with the canons of the time, becoming a caliph’s palace.
The next major reconstruction began in the 13th century after the Spanish conquest of the region. The palace was enlarged and expanded with several Gothic buildings, making it the residence of the kings of Castile and later all of Spain. The Alcázar Palace is the second largest royal residence after the Alhambra.
The Royal Alcázar Palace combined Gothic elements with Moorish style. It was built in stages, new elements were added. The result is a unique complex, where Eastern features are organically fused with fragments of European architecture. The palace was decorated, enlarged and kept in very good condition, turning it into a real jewel of Spain.
Characteristic features of the style:
- painted ceilings;
- decorating the walls with inlay;
- the use of plant ornaments;
- fine stone carving;
- numerous columns and covered galleries.
In fact – it is a complex of many buildings connected to each other. The oldest are built in the Mudejar style. The Lion’s Gate leads to the Ratio del Leon, the name of the patio with luxuriant vegetation in it. The Sala de la Justicia, where complaints were received and listened to centuries ago, is also admirable.
The Gothic Palace, built in the 13th century under King Alfonso X, who defeated the Moors, is a little newer. The interior rooms are decorated in the Baroque style with its inherent opulence. The interiors are decorated with statues and paintings. In a separate room is a collection of unique tapestries.
The jaeger yard was built even later. It was a gathering place for noble lords to accompany royalty on hunting trips. The palace of King Pedro I is very interesting. In its facades and interior halls there is a clear return to the Moorish style, it is generously decorated with carvings, stunning fine paintings, colored tiles and gilding. With external opulence, there is an amazing sense of proportion and style. The Moorish Palace has two courtyards with artificial ponds and well-kept small gardens. Patio de las Munecas is known for the fact that among the carved elements of the exterior decorations one can discern strange faces. Why they are there and what they are there for, we have not yet found out.
The next major block of buildings was created in the 16th century by order of Queen Isabella. It is an admiralty and a chamber of commerce opened to govern the new region, joined as a colony after the discoveries of Christopher Columbus. The purpose of buildings is purely utilitarian, they are designed to work.
The Royal Alcázar Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the palace complex guided tours are organized, the guides recommend to devote a whole day to look around, and then you get only a survey version. To see everything, you have to come back here more than once.
Around the palace is a huge park, which is almost 800 years old. It has about 170 plant species. The gardens are laid out with terraces, decorated in different styles.
Some exotic plants are given from other countries.
The gardens are divided into segments bearing names:
- Marquise de la Vega Inclan;
There is also the Orange Grove and the Labyrinth. In the gardens, fountains gurgle, charming man-made ponds bring peace, and stunning sculptures are a delight to behold. And over all this splendor hovers the incomparable aroma of freshness and blooming plants.
How to get there
The Alcázar Palace is practically in the center of Seville. It can be reached by buses T1 and C5. The complex is available to the public from 9:30 to 19:00, seven days a week. It is closed only for Christmas and New Year holidays. On Mondays, 1 hour is reserved for free admission for all, at other times this privilege can take advantage of the disabled and children under 16 years of age.
From April to October there are night tours, which are very popular. The illuminated gardens make walking through them on warm Spanish nights especially appealing and romantic.
All information of interest can be found on the official website of the palace – realcazarsevilla.sacatuentrada.es.