Real Alcazar in Seville: One of the best destinations in town (Part 2)

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More about this wonderful architecture in Seville, Spain.

>> Real Alcazar in Seville: One of the best destinations in town (Part 1)

Palacio de Don Pedro

Palacio de Don Pedro @ Seville Daily Photo

This palace, also known as the Palacio Mudéjar, is Seville’s single most stunning architectural feature.

King Pedro, though at odds with many of his fellow Christians, had a long-standing alliance with the Muslim emir of Granada, Mohammed V, the man responsible for much of the decoration at the Alhambra. So when Pedro decided to build a new palace in the Alcázar in 1364, Mohammed sent many of his top craftsmen. These were joined by others from Seville and Toledo. Their work, drawing on the Islamic traditions of the Almohads and caliphal Córdoba, is a unique synthesis of Iberian Islamic art.

Inscriptions on the palace’s façade encapsulate the collaborative nature of the enterprise. While one, in Spanish, announces that the building’s creator was the ‘highest, noblest and most powerful conqueror Don Pedro, by God’s grace King of Castilla and León’, another proclaims repeatedly in Arabic that ‘there is no conqueror but Allah’.

At the heart of the palace is the sublime Patio de las Doncellas(Patio of the Maidens), surrounded by beautiful arches, plasterwork and tiling. The sunken garden in the centre was uncovered by archaeologists in 2004 from beneath a 16th-century marble covering.

To the north of the patio, the Alcoba Real (Royal Quarters), feature stunningly beautiful ceilings and wonderful plaster- and tilework. Its rear room was probably the monarch’s summer bedroom.

Continuing on brings you to the covered Patio de las Muñecas(Patio of the Dolls), the heart of the palace’s private quarters, featuring delicate Granada-style decoration; indeed, plasterwork was actually brought here from the Alhambra in the 19th century, when the mezzanine and top gallery were added for Queen Isabel II. The Cuarto del Príncipe (Prince’s Suite), to its north, has an elaborate gold ceiling intended to re-create a starlit night sky.

The most spectacular room in the Palacio, and indeed the whole Alcázar, is the Salón de Embajadores (Hall of Ambassadors), south of the Patio de las Muñecas. This was originally Pedro I’s throne room, although the fabulous wooden dome of multiple star patterns, symbolising the universe, was added later in 1427. The dome’s shape gives the room its alternative name, Sala de la Media Naranja (Hall of the Half Orange).

On the western side of the Salón, the beautiful Arco de Pavones, named after its peacock motifs, leads onto the Salón del Techo de Felipe II, with a Renaissance ceiling (1589–91) and beyond, to the Jardín del Príncipe (Prince’s Garden).

Palacio Gótico

Reached via a staircase at the southeastern corner of the Patio de las Doncellas, is Alfonso X’s much re-modelled 13th-century Gothic palace. Interest here is centred on the Salones de Carlos V, named after the 16th-century Spanish King Carlos I who was also the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, and the Salone de los Tapices, a huge vaulted hall with a series of vast tapestries.

Patio del Crucero

Patio del Crucero @ Seville Daily Photo

Beyond the Salone de los Tapices, the Patio del Crucero was originally the upper storey of a patio from the 12th-century Almohad palace. Initially it consisted only of raised walkways along its four sides and two cross-walkways that met in the middle. Below grew orange trees, whose fruit could be plucked at hand height by the lucky folk strolling along the walkways. The patio’s lower level was built over in the 18th century after it suffered earthquake damage.

Gardens & Exit

On the other side of the Salone de los Tapices are the Alcázar’s gardens. Formal gardens with pools and fountains sit closest to the palace. From one, the Jardín de la Danza (Garden of the Dance), a passage runs beneath the Salones de Carlos V to the photogenic Baños de Doña María de Padilla (María de Padilla Baths). These are the vaults beneath the Patio del Crucero – originally the patio’s lower level – with a grotto that replaced the patio’s original pool.

The gardens’ most arresting feature is the Galeria de Grutesco, a raised gallery with porticoes fashioned in the 16th century out of an old Muslim-era wall. There is also a fun hedge maze, which will delight children. The gardens to the east, beyond a long wall, are 20th-century creations, but no less heavenly for it.

 

Hope you enjoy your stay in Spain!

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