If you only visit one monument in Seville, the Andalusian capital, it should be the Real Alcazar of Seville, Spain. The Royal Palace is both historic, stunning, and a joy to explore. With an entrance fee of 13.50EUR (cheaper for students and 65+), it is a reasonable price for the budget traveller. Built by the Moorish rulers in the 8th century and later improved by the Catholic kings and queens, it is known as one of the finest examples of Mudéjar architecture. It is part of Seville's UNESCO World Heritage Site. The word "alcazar" comes from the Arabic word for castle. It was originally a fortress. Now, visiting this grouping of buildings and gardens is a perfect way to spend a day in Seville.
Located in Plaza de Triunfo in the historic centre, just across from the Seville Cathedral, the Royal Palace continues to be a royal residence. The Spanish royal family has apartments on the upper floor to use when they visit. Game of Thrones fans will recognize parts of the Real Alcazar and the gardens, which were the Water Gardens of Dorne in the hugely popular show.
GATE OF THE LION The main entrance to the site is through the Gate of the Lion where you can see a 19th Century mural of a crowned lion.
PATIO DE LAS DONCELLAS
The Courtyard of the Maidens is the main interior courtyard. It got its name from an old story where the Moors demanded an annual ransom of 100 virgins from the Christian kingdoms. Surrounding the courtyard are many important rooms and salons.
A long rectangular reflecting pool and sunken gardens were recently rediscovered and have been refurbished. The upper floor, with it's Renaissance style and some Mudéjar elements, was added on later.
LA SALON DE EMBAJADORES
The Hall of the Ambassadors, built in the 11th century, is one of the most spectacular rooms in the Seville Alcazar. It was improved by King Pedro I and became his showpiece room for greeting visitors. The gilded wooden ceiling is decorated with red, gold, and green.
LOS BAÑOS DE DOÑA MARÍA DE PADILLA
The baths, or rainwater tanks, are found underneath the Patio del Crucero. They are named after the mistress of King Peter I, who bathed here when she was the royal consort.
CUARTO REAL ALTO
Although we didn't take this particular tour, the Cuarto Real Alto the (royal apartments), is available with the purchase of special tickets where visitors can see the furnished royal apartments on the upper floor of the palace.
THE GARDENS OF REAL ALCAZAR
The absolute highlight for us was the Gardens. These are extensive and you would be wise to leave plenty of time to meander. The formal gardens include hedges, flowering plants and vines tumbling over walls and other architectural features. There's also a flock of resident peacocks.
The gardens were essential and provided royal kitchens with fresh vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers. Water features can be found throughout, with sounds of the water providing a cooling atmosphere or a place to sit and simply enjoy.
GALERIA DE GRUTESCO
The gallery offers overhead views of the formal gardens, palm trees, and architectural elements.
ESTANQUE DE MERCURIO
Mercury Pond is absolutely stunning with the statue of Mercury in front of a beautiful mural wall.
A visit to the Real Alcazar is a must but be aware that summertime temperatures in Seville are blistering. Daily temperatures above 40C are not uncommon. This is a very popular attraction and can get quite crowded in the summer. For those who visit during the high season, I recommend arriving for the earliest time slot available and bring plenty of water.
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