Real Alcazar, Seville

The Real Alcazar is another UNESCO World Heritage site, one of the most beautiful constructions in Seville, Spain and the World.

 The Real Alcazar (meaning: Royal palace) is a complex of buildings and gardens built through the years following different architecture styles, from the mudéjar architecture of the original Moorish fort to the Reniassance and Baroque.
The Alcazar served as Royal palace for the Spanish royals and its upper rooms are still the royals' official residence when they're in town, making it Europe's oldest royal palace still in use.
Entering thorugh the Lion Courtyard, separated by an arch built in the Almohad period, the first 'proper' courtyard, "Patio de la Montería" we could appreciate the beautiful façade of the palace of Peter I of Castille.
From there we entered the House of Trade ("Casa de la Contratación"), built by Queen Isabella I of Castille to regulate trade with the New Colonies. The courtroom or Chapterhouse, where the Monarchs met Columbus after his second voyage, was transformed into a chapel.
The secluded Prince Garden is devoted to the son of the Catholic Kings who was born in one of the adjacent rooms.
Continuing the visit, we got to the famous area known as the Salón de Embajadores (Hall of Ambassadors), one of the best known examples of Seville's mudéjar art. This impressive construction was used for public events and affairs of state, like, the setting for the wedding of Charles V and Isabel of Portugal.
The wrought-iron balcony, blind arches and the magnificent dome are a mix of stucco decoration with plant and geometric motifs, multi-colored tracery decoration and gilded designs.
The most famous courtyard "Patio de las Doncellas" (Courtyard of the Maidens), where you can appreciate both the Italian Renaissance and the mudéjar styles is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. The central part of the courtyard was covered with Marble and a fountain, but it was dug up in 2005 and restored to the original design from the 14th century.
Continuing the visit we passed through beautiful halls with particular details, the Bedroom of the Moorish Kings and its wooden ceilings,Charles V Ceiling Room, one place more beautiful than the other.
One of my favorite parts of the complex is the area where the rugs and huge vases are, the Gothic Palace ("Palacio gótico") built for Alfonso the Wise, where Moorish architecture is no longer the main theme.
Its tiles, ceramic tiles with grotesque and classical figures and the beautiful tapestries are as impressive as the Moorish details we saw in previous rooms,
From there we accessed the gardens, with the nice (and refreshing) fountain called Estanque de Mercurio, a large pool and fountain decorated by frescoes and stonework built into the ancient Almohad wall by Milanese architect Vermondo Resta and overlooking the Estanque and Dance Gardens.

I discovered a place I hadn't been to in my past visit, the Baths of Lady María de Padilla a vast underground area under the Crucero Courtyard with rainwater tanks, an ideal place to freshen up in the summer months. The baths are named after María de Padilla, the mistress of Peter the Cruel, king of Castile and León from 1350 to 1369.
After the visit one can just get lost and relax in the gardens behind the Alcazar (there's a small café and bathrooms).

Entrance to the complex costs €9.50 (full ticket), but there are also some interesting evening visits, to be booked in advance, which seem very interesting... maybe for next time :)

Fun fact: For the Games of Thrones fans, the Alcazar will be one of the filming locations for the fifth season of the show.

Real Alcazar de Sevilla
Patio de Banderas, s/n. 41004 - Seville
Tel.: +34 954 50 23 24

Opening times:
October to March: Mon - Sun 9.30 - 17.00
April to September: Mon - Sun 9.30 - 19.00
Closed on Jan.1, Jan.6, Holy Friday and Dec.25.

General entrance (lower floors): 9,50 €
Pensionists and students (17-25 years old): 2 €
Disabled, under-16 and those born or resident in Seville: Free
Entrance to the Royal Room: 4,50 €
Mondays from 18.00 to 19.00 April to September, and from 16.00 to 17.00 October to March: Free

Night visits:
Fridays and Staurdays
October to March: 19:30, 20:00, 20:30, 21:00.
April to September: 21:00, 21:30, 22:00, 22:30.
Fee: 13€ - Book online on: https://oberonsaas.com/realalcazarsevilla

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