A tourist hotspot in Seville is the beautiful Real Alcázar. The Alcázar is the palatial retreat of the King of Spain. Its history spans a thousand years; being built in the Moorish period of Spanish history. When Seville grew as a political heavyweight under the Umayyad Caliphate, so did this Islamic palace, spanning 17,000 square metres at its largest. Once the Moorish empire was defeated, Spanish Kings and Queens frequented the palace, adding to its architecture throughout the centuries. It is well known that the Holy Roman emperor Charles V married Isabella of Portugal in Seville, where they celebrated in style in the Alcázar.
The buildings of the Alcázar are perfect examples of the Mudéjar architecture style. The style came about as the Muslim population and Christian population lived side by side in the city, causing a mixture of their own styles. This style grew in the 12th century and spread across the Iberian Peninsula becoming popular in places such as Toledo, Segovia, Léon, Lisbon and Zaragoza to name but a few. The style itself incorporated elements of Islamic art and building style to Christian middle age architecture. For example, running around the tops of the walls in many Mudéjar style rooms, are ceramic tiles with repetitive ancient Arabic calligraphic script, creating patterns.
The gardens of the Alcázar are a marvel. Luscious palms, orange groves and elaborately decorated fountains are spread across seven hectares of land. They truly are a spectacle fit for a king. Nowadays, tourists explore the gardens for hours, enjoying the sights and natural perfumes from the flora.
The Alcázar is cheap to visit (€9.50) and for a little bit more you can have a small self guided tour around some of the palatial rooms (including the monarch’s reception room still used today). We believed this tour was worth the extra money, contrary to what we had been told by locals. Beautiful examples of the Arabic calligraphy tiling could be found in these palatial rooms but unfortunately we were not permitted to take photographs.
An absolute must, is to pre-book the tickets into the Alcázar online before you visit. Buying tickets on the day may leave you disappointed as queues to get inside can wrap themselves around the cathedral by midday (this can be over two hundred people long).
I highly recommend a visit to the Alcázar. We spent hours wondering around the palace and gardens, taking in all it had to offer.