September 19th, 2015
No visit to Sevilla is complete without a visit to the Royal Alcázar Palace! One of my favorite characteristics about Spain’s Andalusian region is the prevalent North African Moorish influence, especially in the architecture.
Dan and I met up with Sevilla Walking Tours for their afternoon tour of the palace’s spectacularly decorated halls, courtyards, and gardens. Our guide Alfonso was both informative and entertaining and the best part about joining in on a tour is that you get to skip the line!
Built originally for the governors of the local Moorish state in the 10th century, the now royal palace is the oldest in Europe that’s still in use; although our tour guide mentioned that it has been three years since the royal family even paid a visit. Can I move in instead then?
Known for its distinctive style of both Islamic and Gothic Christian decorative elements known as Mudejar, the palace underwent an extensive 14th century Moorish facelift by Moorish artisans from Granada to re-create the romance of the city’s Alhambra for the Christian king, Pedro I. Imagine the controversy that must have been!
The palace’s colorful ceramic tiles, coffered wood ceilings, geometrical shapes, lobed arches atop slender columns, and elaborately designed stucco panels all exude the elegant Mudejar style. Both Arabic writings and Christian motifs such as paintings of kings and other realistic images of nature can be seen. The place is truly stunning and a unique marriage of the two cultural traditions.
Home to Ferdinand and Isabel during Spain’s Golden Age, it was here in the palace’s Admiral’s Hall where the Queen debriefed Columbus after his New World discoveries and where mapmaker Amerigo Vespucci tried to name the newly discovered continent. I think we all know where he drew inspiration from!