Royal Alcázar of Seville

When visiting the most important monuments in the city, it is important to know what you are actually going to see. So before you go to Seville, get to know the biggest attraction in the city better!

Royal Alcázar of Seville (Spanish: El Real Alcázar de Sevilla) is a symbol of Andalusia. This beautiful palace complex has witnessed many important events in the history of Spain. It was here where Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon welcomed Christopher Columbus after his trip to America. It was here where trade with the Spanish colonies was managed, and it was also here where the decisions on Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition and many other expeditions to the New World were made.

GOOD TO KNOW: The Alcazar of Seville was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987.

History of the Palace

The first residence in this place was built in antiquity, when this part of the Iberian Peninsula was under the rule of the Romans. Unfortunately, no remains of the old buildings have survived to this day.

At the beginning of the 10th century (913), during the Caliphate of Cordoba, the ruler Abdurrahman II an-Nasir ordered to build his residence there. In the following centuries, his successors expanded the complex with new buildings and rooms. This place quickly became the cultural showpiece of the city, attracting, among others, poets and writers.

In the years 1248-1249 the city was captured by the Castilian army. Christian rulers decided to keep the palace buildings, making them the Royal Residence and the political center of the city. It was a turning point in the history of the Alcazar, which was soon to begin to gradually change its architectural face. The first manifestation of this was the Gothic Palace built during the reign of Alfonso X.

Major changes began in the 14th century. It was then that Peter of Castile ordered the construction of a palace that could compete with the Alhambra in Granada in terms of beauty and loftiness. This task was entrusted to the best artists from Granada, Cordoba and Toledo. Their task was to combine the best elements of Islamic architecture with Christian aesthetics. The construction took 10 years. As a result, one of the most beautiful Mudejar objects in Spain was created.

At the behest of successive Catholic Kings, the Alcazar in Seville underwent many other modifications (mainly in the 15th and 16th centuries). For this reason, in addition to the Mudéjar and Gothic styles, which are most visible here, we will also see references to the Renaissance, Mannerism and Baroque.

GOOD TO KNOW: Mudéjar is a style in art and architecture that combines elements that are characteristic of Islam and Christianity. There are many examples of its use all over Spain. Other important monuments made in Mudejar style are: the Monastery of Sant Jeroni de Cotaiba (Valencia), the architectural ensemble of the city of Teruel (Aragón), the Church of Corpus Christi (Segovia), the churches of Santa María la Blanca and San Benito (Toledo).

Visiting the Royal Alcázar of Seville

King Pedro’s Palace (Palacio del Rey Don Pedro)

It is said to be the most Arab part of the Alcazar. In reality, however, it is not Arab architecture, but the Mudéjar style, which Europeans often confuse with Arab architecture. The richly decorated walls and ceilings are full of geometric patterns. Azulejos tiles, characteristic of Andalusia, create stunning mosaics on the walls.

One of the most captivating places in King Pedro’s Palace is the Hall of Ambassadors (Salón de los Embajadores). The richly decorated ceiling attracts attention here. To see it up close, take a tour of the royal apartments located on the upper floors.

Courtyard of the Maidens (Patio de las Doncellas)

This is probably the most often photographed place in Alcazar. This was not always the case, however. After the murder of King Pedro I the garden was burnt down. At the end of the 16th century, the swimming pool completely disappeared, and the patio itself had no specific function. It was not rediscovered until 2002-2004. Thanks to the work of archaeologists, it was possible to discover what the Patio de las Doncellas looked like originally and restore its splendor.

And where does this strange name come from? The Courtyard of the Maidens refers to the legend that during the reign of the Caliphate, Christian rulers were required to hand over 100 virgins every year … A more convincing version, however, says that on the first floor of the courtyard there were young ladies who were watching the guests who came to the palace.

Gothic Palace (Palacio Gótico)

This part of the Alcazar is completely different from the rest. It was built during the reign of Alfonso X, and in terms of architecture it was kept in the Gothic style. As a result of the 1755 earthquake, some parts of the Palacio Gótico were destroyed and what we can see today are their reconstructions. An example is the Patio del Crucero, through which you have to walk to enter the palace interior. Originally, this courtyard had two floors, but only one was preserved after the reconstruction.

The Gothic Palace includes several emblematic rooms. One of them is a chapel with a spectacular altar by Diego de Castillejo. Another interesting feature is the Gothic Hall (Sala Gótica), where important events in the life of the royal family were organized. An interesting room is also the Carpet Salón (Salón de Tapices), where, as the name suggests, we will see an exhibition consisting of various carpets.

Los Baños de Doña María de Padilla

To feel completely different atmosphere than the rest of the complex, head to the baths located under the Gothic Palace. The entrance to them is in the La Danza garden (Jardín de la Danza). Although what enchants you most in Los Baños de Doña María de Padilla today is the mystical atmosphere, the function of this place used to be more practical. There was a rainwater tank here, which allowed better control of irrigation in the gardens.

Royal Rooms

Alkazar is the oldest functioning Royal Residence in Europe. The royal rooms are located on the upper floors. Visiting them takes less than 30 minutes, and you cannot use your camera or phone during this part of the tour. Of course, visiting this part of the Alcazar is not possible if the Royal Family is currently in Seville and is using the residence.

Other places

Other particularly interesting places in Alcazar include also: Patio de Levies, Salón del Almirante, Patio del León, Patio del Yeso, Sala de los Infantes, Sala de los Reyes Católicos, Patio del Crucero and Puerta del León.

Gardens of the Alcázar

When visiting the Alcázar in Seville, it would be a sin not to visit the palace gardens. They will surprise you not only with their size (60,000 m2), but also with the multitude of plants (over 170 different species) and their unique atmosphere. Fountains, ponds and the scent of flowers floating in the air are omnipresent here. It is worth knowing that from July to September, chamber concerts are organized here, which is a great opportunity to visit the Alcázar Gardens not only during a tourist trip, but also when there is a opportunity to soak up the atmosphere of the place.

DID YOU KNOW THAT: Alcazar of Seville was used as the backdrop in the Game of Thrones TV series? You can see more interesting facts on this subject in the video below:

Complex map

The entire palace complex is quite spacious and it is easy to get lost in it. The best way to visit each part of it is a guided tour and using the Alcázar map, which you can download at this link.

Practical information

  • It’s best to buy tickets to the Royal Alcázar of Seville in advance. You will then avoid standing in a long queue and avoid the risk that all tickets have been sold out, which happens very often in the case of this monument.
  • Opening hours: October to March from 9: 30am-5pm. From April to September from 9:30am-19pm
  • Address: Patio de Banderas, s/n, 41004 Sevilla, Spain
  • Buy Tickets on GetYourGuide

Royal Alcázar of Seville on a map

Discover Andalusia

Each region of Spain is divided into provinces. Their names often coincide with the names of their main cities. Catalonia is divided into eight provinces, each of which has different tourist attractions and interesting places to offer:
ProvinceTourist attractions and interesting places
AlmeríaTabernas Desert (Desierto de Tabernas), Oasys MiniHollywood Amusement Park, Fort Bravo Amusement Park, Castillo de Tabernas (castle), Cabo de Gata Natural Park, Sierra Alhamilla Mountains. Popular cities: Almería
CádizDoñana National Park. Popular cities: Cádiz, Setenil de las bodegas, Jerez de la Frontera, Arcos de la Frontera
CórdobaLa Mezquita. Popular cities: Córdoba
GranadaAlhambra. Popular cities and regions: Granada, Sierra Nevada
HuelvaDoñana National Park. Popular cities: Huelva
JaénPopular cities: Jaén
MálagaGibralfaro Castle, La Alcazaba, Cathedral in Malaga, Roman Theatre, Picasso Museum, Caminito del Rey, Palacio Episcopal, Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga, Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park, Serranía de Ronda Mountains, La Ciudad Romana de Acinipo (ancient ruins), Cueva de la Pileta Cave, Bioparc Fuengirola, Orchidarium Estepona, Parque Acuático Mijas, Reservatauro Ronda Natural Park, Aquarium Sea Life Benalmádena, Selwo Aventura, Castillo de San Luís (castle ruins), Plaza de Toros in Ronda, Museo Lara in Ronda, Alameda del Tajo, Iglesia de Santa María la Mayor in Ronda (church), Iglesia del Espíritu Santo in Ronda (church), Puente Nuevo (New Bridge)  i Puente Viejo (Old Bridge), El Tajo abyss in Ronda, Mondragón Palace, Water Mine and Casa del Rey Moro, La Ermita de la Virgen de la Cabeza, Bandits' Museum (Museo del Bandolero), Beaches in Benalmadena. Popular cities: Málaga, Ronda, Marbella, Torremolinos, Fuengirola, Benalmádena, Estepona, Cuevas del Becerro, Jimera de Líbar, Mijas, Villanueva de Tapia, La Línea de la Concepción, Bahía Dorada Coast, San Pedro de Alcántara
SevilleCathedral in Seville (Catedral de Santa María de la Sede de Sevilla), Alcazar de Sevilla, India Archive, Gold Tower, Barrio de Santa Cruz district, Casa de Pilatos, Museum of Fine Arts, Maria Luisa Park (Parque de María Luisa), Plac Hiszpański (Plaza de España), Metropol Parasol, Itálica (archeological site), Doñana National Park. Amusement Parks: Isla Mágica, Aquopolis Sevilla, Aventura Sevilla. Popular cities: Seville

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Jessica Alvaro
Jessica Alvaro
Travel has always been close to me. For me, it's the air I can't breathe without. The sun, without which I forget what a smile is.