A magnificent marriage of Christian and Mudejar architecture, the palatial complex of Unesco in Seville is an impressive sight. The site, which was originally developed as a fort in 913, has been renovated many times during the 11 centuries of its existence, most spectacularly in the fourteenth century when King Pedro added the sumptuous Palace of Don Pedro, still today the jewel of the Crown of the Alcazar. More recently, the Alcázar appeared as a place for the television series Game of Thrones .
The Alcázar began its life in the 10th century as a fort for the Cordovan governors of Seville, but it was in the 11th century that it obtained its first major reconstruction. Under the Abbadid rulers of the city, the original fort was enlarged and a palace known as Al-Muwarak (the Blessed One) was built in what is now the western part of the complex. Later, the Almohad rulers of the 12th century added another palace to the east of this, around what is now the Patio del Crucero. The Christian King Fernando III moved to the Alcázar when he captured Seville in 1248, and several later monarchs used it as their principal residence. Fernando’s son, Alfonso X, replaced much of the Almohad palace with a Gothic one and then, between 1364 and 1366, Pedro I created his impressive palace of the same name.
Patio of the Lion
The entrance to the complex is through the Puerta del León in the Plaza del Triunfo. Passing through the entrance, which is flanked by crenellated walls, you come to the Lion’s Court, which was the garrison yard of the original Al-Muwarak palace. On the left, before the arches, there is the Justice Hall , with a beautiful Mudejar plasterwork and a coffered ceiling (interlaced beams ceiling with decorative inserts). This room was built in the 1340s by the Christian King Alfonso XI, who participated here with one of his lovers, Leonor de Guzmán, who is considered the most beautiful woman in Spain. It leads to the beautiful Patio del Yeso , part of the 12th century Almohad palace rebuilt in the 19th century.
Patio de la Montería
Dominated by the façade of Don Pedro’s Palace, the Patio de la Monteria owes its name (The Hunting Courtyard) to the fact that hunters would be here before hunting with King Pedro. The rooms on the west side of the plaza were part of the Casa de la Contratación , founded in 1503 to control trade with the American colonies of Spain. The Hall of the Admiral houses paintings of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that show historical events and characters related to Seville. The room at its northern end has an international collection of beautiful and elaborate admirers. The Hall of Audiences is adorned with tapestries representative of the shields of the Spanish admirals and the celebrated painting by Alejo Fernández of 1530.Virgin of the dreamers (Virgin of the sailors).
Real High Fourth
The Alcazar is still a royal palace. In 1995, he hosted the wedding party of Infanta Elena, daughter of King Juan Carlos I, after his marriage in the cathedral of Seville. The Royal High Room (Royal Upper rooms), the rooms used by the Spanish royal family on their visits to Seville, are open for guided tours (€ 4.50, half an hour from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., reservation required) . The highlights of the visits, which are carried out in Spanish or English, include the 14th-century Audience Hall , which is still the monarch’s reception room, and Pedro I’s bedroom, with marvelous Mudejar tiles and plasterwork.
Palace of Don Pedro
This palace, also known as the Mudéjar Palace, is the most impressive architectural feature of Seville.
King Peter, although 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 in the Alhambra. Then, when Pedro decided to build a new palace in the Alcazar in 1364, Mohammed sent many of his best craftsmen. They were joined by others from Seville and Toledo. His work, based on the Islamic traditions of the Almohads and the Caliphal Cordoba, is a unique synthesis of Iberian Islamic art.
The inscriptions on the facade of the palace encapsulate the collaborative nature of the company. While one, in Spanish, announces that the creator of the building was the highest, most noble and most powerful conqueror Don Pedro, by the grace of God, King of Castile and Leon, another proclaims repeatedly in Arabic that “there is no conqueror but Allah ”
In the heart of the palace is the sublime Patio de las Doncellas , surrounded by beautiful arches, plasterwork and tiles. The sunken garden in the center was discovered by archaeologists in 2004 under a 16th century marble roof.
To the north of the patio, the Royal Room (Royal Quarters), has amazingly beautiful ceilings and wonderful plaster and tiles. His back room was probably the monarch’s summer room.
Continuing, it takes you to the covered Patio de las Muñecas , the heart of the private chambers of the palace, with a delicate decoration of Granada style; in fact, the plaster was brought here from the Alhambra in the 19th century, when the mezzanine was added and the upper gallery for Queen Isabel II. The Prince’s Room ( Prince’s Suite), to the north, has a gold roof made to recreate a starry night sky.
The most spectacular room of the Palace, and in fact of all the Alcázar, is the Hall of Ambassadors , to the south of the Patio de las Muñecas. This was originally the throne room of Peter I, although the fabulous wooden dome of multiple star patterns, symbolizing the universe, was added later in 1427. The shape of the dome gives the hall its alternative name, Sala of the Half Orange. .
On the western side of the Hall, the beautiful Arco de Pavones , named for its peacock motifs, leads to the Philip II Ceiling Hall , with a Renaissance ceiling (1589-91) and beyond, to the Prince’s Garden ( Garden of the Prince )
Reached by a staircase in the southeast corner of the Patio de las Doncellas, is the remodeled Gothic palace of the XII century of Alfonso X. The interest here is centered on the Salons of Carlos V , named after the Spanish King Carlos I, of the century XVI, who was also emperor of the Holy Roman Empire Charles V, and the Salone de los Tapices , a huge vaulted room with a series of huge tapestries.
Patio del Crucero
Beyond the Salone de los Tapices, the Patio del Crucero was originally the upper floor of a courtyard of the Almohad palace of the twelfth century. Initially it consisted only of elevated walkways along its four sides and two crossed walkways that were in the middle. Underneath they grew orange trees, whose fruit could be torn by hand by the lucky ones who walked along the paths. The lower level of the patio was built in the eighteenth century after suffering damage by the earthquake.
Gardens and exit
On the other side of the Salone de los Tapices are the gardens of the Alcázar. The formal gardens with pools and fountains are closer to the palace. From one, the Garden of Dance , passes under the Salons of Carlos V to the photogenic Baths of Doña María de Padilla . These are the vaults below the Patio del Crucero, originally the lower level of the patio, with a grotto that replaced the original patio pool.
The most striking feature of the gardens is the Grutesco Gallery , an elevated gallery with porticos formed in the sixteenth century from an old wall of the Muslim era. There is also a fun maze of hedges, which will delight children. The gardens to the east, beyond a long wall, are creations of the twentieth century, but no less celestial.
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