It is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe.
The Alcázar of Seville is a magnificent marriage of Christian and Mudéjar architecture.
The Alcázar started life in the 10th century as a fort for the Cordoban governors of Seville but it was in the 11th century that it got its first major rebuild.
In the 12th century, the construction became considerably more established as a palace, along the lines of the one we know today, when the Almohad Caliphate controlled the region.
The Christian king Fernando III moved into the Alcázar when he captured Seville in 1248, and several later monarchs used it as their main 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 stunning namesake palace.
Protected by a wall, the Alcázar site is made up of diverse palaces and gardens designed during different historical periods.
The main entrance to the Alcázar takes its name from the 19th century tile-work inlaid above it, a crowned lion holding a cross in its claws and bearing a Gothic script.
The lower level of the Patio was built for King Peter of Castile and includes inscriptions describing Peter as a “sultan”. Various lavish reception rooms are located on the sides of the Patio. In the center is a large, rectangular reflecting pool with sunken gardens on either side.
The upper story of the Patio was an addition made by Charles V. The addition was designed by Luis de Vega in the style of the Italian Renaissance although he did include both Renaissance and mudéjar plaster work in the decorations. Construction of the addition began in 1540 and ended in 1572.
All the palaces of Al Andalus had garden orchards with fruit trees, horticultural produce and a wide variety of fragrant flowers. The gardens adjoining the Alcázar of Seville have undergone many changes. In the 16th century during the reign of Philip III the Italian designer Vermondo Resta introduced the Italian Mannerist style.
It was registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, along with the adjoining Seville Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies.
The term Alcázar comes from the Arabic al-qaṣr, itself derived from the Latin castrum (“castle”).
Patio de las Doncellas, the name, meaning “The Courtyard of the Maidens”, refers to the legend that the Moors demanded 100 virgins every year as tribute from Christian kingdoms in Iberia.
In 1962 the Alcázar was used as a set for Lawrence of Arabia.
The Alcázar is featured as a location for the Game of Thrones TV series.
Ridley Scott used the paved courtyard as the set for the court of the King of Jerusalem in his movie Kingdom of Heaven. The courtyard arrangement was converted once more after the movie’s production.