Time for a history lesson! Seville is once of the most important historical cities in Europe, as it was a hub for travelers and important nobility from around the world to meet. In fact, from here is where Columbus originally left to “discover” (not really) America, and it has been called home (even if only for a short time) by many other important figures. This week I went to discover the beautiful Royal Palace of Alcázar, and it was stunning. The true beauty of this place comes from the multiple architectural periods it has gone through over several centuries to accommodate the varying tastes of different royal families. For this reason, this building’s architecture is one of the most renowned examples of mudéjar architecture because the palace was originally constructed when Andalusia was under Muslim rule, and later remodeled after the Christian Reconquista by Christians (yes obviously). The architectural blend was brilliantly exotic and told a beautiful story, that I’ll share with you below, with pictures of course 🙂
The picture above ^ is el Patio de las Doncellas (Courtyard of the Maidens), an area in the center of the palace. This part of the palace would host 100 virgins…but that was a very long time ago. Most notably, you can see the multiple arches, intricate carvings on the walls, and water streaming through the center. The arches and water are very typical of Islamic architecture. Water is said to purify the space it runs through, and I won’t say anything about arches because I don’t specifically remember why they are common in Islamic architecture. In the carvings, which might be too small to see, you can also see various Arabic characters as well as a distinct seashell, also very typical of Islamic architecture.
This photo is also to illustrate some of the beautiful and intricate patterns hand carved in this Royal Palace. And of course some more arches. In case you haven’t noticed yet, you will never see animals or faces in the Islamic parts of the architecture. It is not within their faith to allow that, however, the Christian influences brought about lots of carvings and paintings of humans as well as animals, which you will see later.
Here you can see on the top very precise Arabic characters. The characters together actually mean nothing, they are just there for decoration, although some sort of meaningful phrases could have been cool! The tile pattern below was created by the Christians, which is slightly more symmetrical than the Islamic patterns.
This tile wall was put together by servants for a Catholic King (I don’t remember which one I know I suck) who wanted this room to be specially decorated for his wedding (to his cousin might I add). Supposedly this King was a royal pain in the ass (lol), and didn’t want to pay the servants enough money to put the tiles together. For this reason, you might notice that some of the tiles don’t match up very well!
This room is Los Baños de Doña María de Padilla. She literally has this bath all to herself, which is kid of excessive and ridiculous, but I guess you can do that when you are a part of t the Royal family. This was one of my favorite parts of the Palace, the natural colors were stunning.
This door was one that we found in the gardens of the Palace. The reason I am putting it here is because if you look very closely at the blue tiles, you will be able to see a Castillo (castle) and a lion in alternating tiles. These are the symbols on the seal of Christopher Columbus’ ship, and they are all over the Palace to represent his discovery of America, and the wealth of trade that it brought to Seville, and Spain in general.
I hope you enjoyed the little journey. I would love to provide you with more historical facts but I easily confuse the names of the multiple Kings that live here. To leave you with a final fun fact, the top floor of this Palace is still used to this day by Royal families that come to Seville. For this reason, it is the oldest palace still in use in the whole world.