Alcazar and it’s Hidden Mysteries
Alcazar and it’s Hidden Mysteries
The complex compound which makes up the Royal Alcazar of Seville was built in the early Middle-Ages, when the ancient Roman city of Hispalis was re-named Ixbilia. According to the most trustworthy sources, it was at the beginning of the tenth century that the Caliph of Cordoba, Abdurrahman III an-Nasir, ordered new government headquarters to be built on the southern swath of the city. Previously, the ruling al-Andalus powers had been seated inside the Low-Roman-Empire city centre. Seville’s centre of power after that point was linked to the hub of its economic activity, the port.
Later on, the Abbadíes, who ruled Sevilla during the tenth century, added onto the Alcazar palace and called it al-Mubarak, ‘The Blessed’, and this quickly became the hub for the city’s official and literary life.
In 1248-49, the territory was conquered by Castilians, who made The Alcazar a Royal Residence, and palaces rose up around the original foundations. In the middle of the fourteenth century, when the Crown of Castile ruled, there was a re-emergence of Mediterranean concepts and Arabic style.
This Royal Relationship has held up since the beginning of the Modern Age, and its influence can be seen in the continuous alterations made to the building itself, in an effort to adapt the decor to the times. For example, the top floor of the Courtyard of the Maidens, was refurbished in a Renaissance style, or the
Courtyard of Dolls whose nineteenth-century restoration robbed it of its original appeal while maintaining the ancient columns and capitals that were part of the original design.
Let’s take a look at some of the less obvious innovations and architectural elements to be found:
One of the most spectacular of Alcazar’s ceilings is in the Ambassador’s Hall.
Many of the palace’s internal walls bear the intricate, repeated patterns of Moorish interior design.
In some rooms, not an inch of wall space has been neglected.
The effect of the tile work in some rooms is almost hypnotizing.
Many of the lower sections of the palace’s internal walls are decorated with ceramic tiles from Triana, one of Sevilla’s most loved barrios.
Many of the surviving structures you can see today date from the 14th century, although some could date back as early at the 10th century.
Next let’s take a look at some of the more mysterious and mythological elements hidden within these walls. Appearances can be deceiving! And some of the things I am about to tell you will not be revealed in the official Royal Alcazar tour.
The tile lion that greets visitors to the Alcázar is one of it’s most recent additions. It was created in 1894 by artist José Gestoso, and the Gothic script it contains...Ad Utrumque literally means “Prepared for All”. Why? Well the gate itself is believed to have been constructed in the 14th century by Peter of Castile, better known as Peter the Cruel, a king with a notoriously bloody reputation.
Patio del León, which incorporates a section of an older Muslim wall was the home of the controversial El Corral de Comedies de la Montería, whose theatrical productions had been banned and whose theater burned down in 1695. Researchers recently created a virtual reconstruction of what the theater would have looked like.
Patio de las Muñecas, the Court of the Dolls contains very busy decor including numerous small carved stucco heads which resemble small dolls. According to the 16th century tradition, if you locate on of the carved faces it will bring you good luck, marriage or fortune.
When exploring the elaborate interiors of the Alcazar, don’t forget to look up: its ceilings are some of the buildings most incredible features, and there are endless symbols to explore.
Want to know more?
Our Alcazar Experience box comes with a guidebook to more of these fascinating and mysterious elements, as well as activities, games and coloring sheets to help you explore the palace in more depth.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below... And thanks so much to Kim for inviting us to post for Traveling Around Spain!