guest post (and photography) from Sandra Vallaure, editor of Seville Traveller, a website providing useful information on Seville for independent travellers
Seville is the most beautiful city in Spain. Actually, Spaniards often compare it to a woman and always define it as elegant, majestic and gorgeous.
Additionally, it was one of the first Spanish cities founded by the Romans. As you can imagine, History has left its trace in Seville. As a result, the city is a combination of impressive monuments and narrow streets where you can wander as long as your feet permit it.
Among all the monuments Seville has, one stands out: the Alcazar.
The Alcazar is, together with the Cathedral and its bell tower, the Giralda, one of the main symbols of the city.
A little bit of history
The area was initially occupied by the Romans and of the first Christian basilicas was built there. However, it not until the Arab occupation (844-1248) that the Alcazar was built, or at least part of it. When the Arabs finally conquered the city, they decided to create a structure for the governor that would be both a palace and a fortress. In fact, the Spanish word alcazar comes from the Arab al qsar that means palace, castle or fortress.
The Alcazar had the usual Arab architecture, and it was full of beautiful patios surrounded by thin columns supporting horseshoe arches. With the arrival and reconquest of the Christians leaded by King Ferdinand III, the Alcazar became the Royal Palace. From there on, the following kings ordered to perform alterations to adequate the complex to their needs and added further pavilions and structures.
Consequently, the Alcazar evolved into a unique place where you can find -and will actually see if you happen to visit it, a melting pot of Arab, Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque styles.
The Alcazar has been inhabited by most of the main kings and queens of Spanish history: Ferdinand III himself, the Catholic Monarchs, Charles V and many more. Even today, the King Juan Carlos I occupies the Alcazar when he is in Seville.
I particularly recommend to pay attention to the Ambassador's Hall (Salón de los Embajadores) located inside Don Pedro's palace, also known as Palacio Mudéjar. Every little detail has been taken care of and the ceramics are absolutely spectacular.
Moreover, spend some time at the Maidens' Courtyard (Patio de las Doncellas). It has been recently restored and it is one of the finest examples of an Arab patio that can be found in Seville and, I dare to say, Spain.
Finally, don't miss the gardens. They are magnificent. In truth there is not only one big garden but multiple small ones, every one with a different style and plants. There is even a labyrinth!
The smell of the orange trees, spread everywhere and the sound of the water flowing at the various fountains will charm you. I believe that one of the highlights of the Alcazar is to seat for a while and relax while observing all this nature surrounding you.
The Alcazar is an architectural masterpiece that explains on itself a large period of the history of Spain and Seville. On top of it, it is one of the finest examples of the Arab style of the 10th century. Sometimes how, after earthquakes, wars and fires, it has managed to survive.
So why not going to Seville during your next holiday? You will have the opportunity to enjoy one of the nicest European climates while devoting your time to discover wonders like the Alcazar.
Are you planning to visit the Alcazar? Have you done so already? Share with us your experience in the comments below!