We’ve seen quite a few alcázars, or Moorish fortresses/palaces, in Spain. It seems every major city in southern Spain has one. But Sevilla’s is our first Real Alcázar, or Royal Alcázar, which means that it is still a royal residence. The king and queen of Spain stay here when they are in Sevilla.
Even though it’s called an alcázar, it was not built by the Moors when they ruled Spain. It was, however, built on the site of a 12th-century Moorish fortress, but you really have to search to find the few remaining ruins of the original fortress. This palace is all about the Christian kings who ruled after the Moors.
Pedro I, aka Pedro the Cruel (now that sounds like an interesting story), was the first Christian king to build a palace here. It was built in the 14th century, 100 years after the Moors were kicked out of Spain. The reason the palace is so Moorish in style is that it was built by Mudéjar artisans descended from the Moors who converted to Christianity in the 13th century so they could remain in Spain. The Christian monarchs may have wanted the Moors out of Spain, but they held onto their art and architecture. I love it too. The intricate detail is fantastic!
Four centuries later, during the Renaissance, Carlos V updated Pedro’s palace and added some rooms of his own in keeping with the original Mudéjar palace. This is the the royal palace we saw today. As you can imagine, this being a current-day royal residence, it is the finest alcázar we have seen. Granada’s Alhambra was most likely more sumptuous in its day, but it has not been kept up to the degree that Sevilla’s alcázar has.
The extensive gardens that surround the palace began as orchards and community gardens rented out to local residents. Later on, probably in Carlos’s day, the space was converted to formal, private gardens for use solely by the royal family. They had both winter and summer gardens. The winter gardens were outdoors, so the royals could soak up that bright Andalucían sun in the coldest months. The summer gardens were underneath the palace to take advantage of the cool shade in the hottest part of the year.
I can just imagine the princes and princesses running through the gardens playing their version of Hide and Seek. What an incredible place to grow up!