Located in the centre of the beautiful city of Seville, the capital of the Andalusian region in Spain and one of the hottest cities in mainland Europe, the Alcázar is probably the city’s main tourist attraction.
A bit of history
Due to its location in the southernmost part of Spain, the city’s architecture has largely been influenced by North-African countries and their inhabitants, the Moors, who actually occupied the peninsula from the 8th century. This is when the Alcázar was built as a royal residence.
Throughout this period, the palace was decorated and built following the rules of Islamic art, with arabesques and geometric patterns, golden details, etc. This is what explains the Moorish style of the whole palace and gardens.
However, in the 13th century the Catholic Kings of Spain claimed the palace as their own, making, over the time, a few adjustments to the palace, leading to its distinct Mudéjar style. To explain it roughly, the word Mudéjar refers to the mix between the Moorish/Muslim culture, art or architecture with Christian touches (like Gothic, Renaissance, etc). It is very common in this part of Spain that was ruled by the Moors and then by Christians.
The Alcázar palace
As it is one of the most beautiful monuments in Seville, visiting the Alcázar has to be on your list. If you know Game of Thrones, some locations will seem quite familiar as some scenes have been shot inside the palace and around its gardens. This is why, in my first post from Spain, I said I was in Dorne!
Anyway, the palace is truly a masterpiece of architecture. I fell completely in awe in some of the rooms that were decorated with such intricate and precise details.
I loved the “Courtyard of the Dolls” (Patio de las Muñecas) for its magical, silvery vibe, and the fact that it didn’t use to have a roof, so that it could be possible to see the stars at night.
The Hall of Ambassadors (see the last picture) was truly breath-taking, as you enter it through gorgeous and colourful arches, and it has this huge, golden roof with amazing details.
Finally, the “Courtyard of the Maidens” (Patio de las Doncellas) is to me what the Alcázar is all about: you can see the wonderful blue sky, you are surrounded by intricate arches made of yellow-y stone that perfectly complement the blue sky and turquoise water in the pond that stands in the middle of the courtyard, surrounded by trees.
Sadly, I didn’t get the chance to visit the Upper floors, as all the tickets were sold out. Small tip if you go to Seville: buy every entrance in advance!
I also wouldn’t recommend the audio guide as I felt like it didn’t give the right kind of information. I would however suggest having some sort of basic information (at least) about the historical background of the palace!
You can’t talk about the Alcázar if you don’t mention its gardens. With the ones at the Maria Luisa Park, which I’ll talk about in another post, they are one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen.
The best thing to do in the gardens is just to walk around and discover them, as they hide so many wonderful secrets. On some points they seem more orderly, and you can imagine the royal family having a nice stroll there, while other parts are “wilder”, with a lot of different plants and trees.
I really enjoyed walking around, getting lost in the “labyrinth”, stumbling upon cute fountains, small benches made of colourful tiles and different types of flowers, plants and trees. The weather obviously helps a lot, and it is definitely better to visit it on a sunny day as all the colours seem more vivid and bright.
As if the atmosphere wasn’t dreamy enough, there is a point where you can see a big part of the garden from above. You climb a few stairs and have a lovely view over the portion of the garden that is closer to the palace. You definitely can’t miss it!
Night visit at the Alcázar:
Seville played an important role in Spanish expeditions around the 15th century, especially with personalities such as Ferdinand Magellan who went to discover the East Indies, starting what would become the first circumnavigation of the Earth.
Why am I telling you this? Well, the night visit of the Alcázar tells this story, and it is magical. These visits, that they call visitas nocturnas teatralizadas, are basically a live play, as if you were at the theatre, but it takes place all around the palace.
You are welcomed by actors, dressed in 15th-century fashion, that tell you the story of Magellan’s expedition through an immersive play, guiding you around the palace and its history. As you do it in small groups, this visit allows you to see the palace in a completely new way, free of tourists and with amazing light effects.
What I liked the most about this, was not only the talented actors and the story they told us, but mainly the fact that you can experience this usually crowded place in a completely new way that almost feels magical. You have gorgeous lights that create dreamy atmospheres to go with the play, music to immerse yourself even more in the story, and dancing, which, in this wonderful setting, is even more captivating.
This is a visit I would recommend to anyone visiting Seville, keeping in mind though that you can’t take pictures or videos throughout the visit. I would actually suggest doing both if possible. At least, I was really glad to get the chance to see both!
Here was my very first article about my Spanish experience, and I hope you liked it! The Alcázar is truly a masterpiece, and definitely something that you have to visit when you go to Seville. It is unlike anything I had seen before and really feels magical – in my opinion.
Also, when coming to Andalusia, the Spanish royal family still uses the Alcázar as a royal residence, and I can’t imagine how incredible this may be.
Would you like to live in the Alcázar? 😁 Have you ever been to Seville, or is it on your list? (I don’t accept any other answers 😉 )