The Christian palace of the Moors – the Alcazar, Seville, Spain

Last week I wrote a post about the Spanish city of Seville and touched upon the many wonderful Seville attractions. Now I’d like to focus on one of the most fascinating Seville attractions, the Alcazar. Built by the Moors in the 10th century, the Alcazar served as the fort and palace of the Moors when they ruled over the city.  It was an inspirational structure built in the Islamic style which served as the city’s ruling palace.  After the Moors were conquered and pushed out of the city in 1248, the palace received a makeover.

While the Alhambra in Granada is the greatest example of Moorish architecture in Spain, the Alcazar in Seville would be a close second.  However, unlike its Moorish cousin in Granada, the Alcazar isn’t exactly a Muslim structure – it’s built in a different style.

In the 14th century, Moorish workers were hired by King Pedro I to rebuild the the Alcazar with a mix of architectural styles of Muslim and Christian influence.  This is know as Mudéjar style.  Unlike Moorish buildings which don’t allow images, the Alcazar has images of a lion and other Christian symbols throughout the palace.

This Seville attraction still serves as a royal palace today and contains three parts – the Admiral’s apartments, the King’s palace, and the 13th century Gothic wing.

While the Alcazar has a Moorish history, the apartments are a celebration of Columbus.  The apartments were where Queen Isabel debriefed Columbus after his return.  Inside, there is a painting by Alejo Fernandez called the Virgin of the Navigators which shows St Mary of the Fair Winds protecting ships and crew for Columbus’ voyage.  The apartments also include a model of the Santa Maria, one of Columbus’ ships on his voyage to the New World.

While the Gothic wing includes a number of tapestries, it is the palace itself that is the treasure of the Alcazar.  Numerous courtyards and rooms make up the King’s palace.  The center of the palace is the Court of the Maidens which is built in Mudéjar and Renaissance style.  The Court of the Dolls was the living quarters of the King.  Throughout the King’s palace, there are a number verses from the Qu’ran mixed with Christian images.

The gardens are heavily Moorish in their design but offer a beautiful example of flowers and fountains throughout.  For the hot summers in Seville, it is a peaceful walk through the beauty of the plants, trees, flowers, and cascading waters.

While Seville may be well known for being one of the holiest cities in Spain, the Alcazar is a fine example of the Moorish history that has heavily influenced this city.  Along with the music and dancing of Flamenco, the years of Moorish influence live on through the architectural style and design of the Alcazar.

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