Forget everything you know about Royal Palaces. Good. The Alcazar of Sevilla is unlike any palace you have been to before. Here, you will not find room after room of ornate furniture you are allowed to look at (people were so short back then, weren’t they?) but not touch, nor will you find galleries filled with portraits of long dead royals, all bearing an uneasy resemblance to each other. And sure, it looks like any other fortress from the outside, but once you pass through the gate, you will enter one of the most spectacular examples of mudejar architecture left in Spain.
What is mudejar style architecture you ask? Well, it’s western architecture served up with a twist of Islamic inspiration. It’s characterized by elaborately carved ceilings, intricate tile work and geometric motifs. The Alcazar’s floor plan is also heavily influenced by Islamic architecture, its thick-walled rooms are built around a central courtyard, which not only offers privacy from the outside world, but also helps keep the temperature inside pleasantly cool under the blazing Spanish sun.
Once you are done gaping in awe at the spectacular ceilings and amazing tiles, head to the back of the castle and take a tour of its immense gardens. Like the palace, the gardens offer up a collection of “rooms” you walk through, each with a different botanical theme and feel. Instead of going for size, the architects went for detail, making cobblestone paths through the hedges, fountains and orange trees. The effect is to make sure you are covered by shade as much as possible and it works. Did I mention Spain is hot? Underneath the shade in the gardens it is positively pleasant. Spend as much time in the gardens as you like. They are spacious enough to give you plenty of peace and quiet as you rest your feet after a day of sight-seeing.
The palace is open daily from 9:30am to 7pm (5pm in the winter) and the admission is 8.50 euro.
The Alcazar is located next to the Cathedral. But, if you only have time for one, do this.