A myriad of closed and open spaces designed for war and royalty with battlement walls, palaces empting into patios and gardens connected by lavish halls or ornate gateways. It is the Alhambra’s little sister, a monument of delicate Moorish artistry at its core, a vision of architecture and styling that was frequently reinterpreted through Christian eyes. In 931 the fortified palace was built to house and protect the Moorish governors. What we see today are largely renovations and additions created under the Christian Monarchy. King Pedro I had the largest hand in reshaping the compound; his requirements, surprisingly, went far in respecting the Mudéjar styling. Later, during the Renaissance, it was further expanded under Carlos V, though he refrained from debauching the fortress as some believe he had the Alhambra.
The Alcázar is one of few remaining wondrous escapes into the vanished world of Al-Andalus. It reflects a rare symmetry, perhaps a compromise, between these two cultures that were colliding during its ongoing construction.
After entering in the Patio de la Montería where the Almohad palatial façade presents itself for admiration, a cursory glance at the surroundings (around every corner is a surprising new and different blend of architecture) does call to mind the Alhambra. The two are closely linked in styling with their intricate stucco modeling, brilliant Moorish tile work and patios echoing with the sounds of water fountains and rippling ponds throughout. Skilled Moorish workers from the Alhambra were delivered to Sevilla when King Pedro – known alternately as the Just or the Cruel, depending on the experiences of those who lived under his rule – initiated construction of his Palacio de Don Pedro here in the 14th century.
The palace’s Patio de Las Doncellas (Patio of the Maids) is a square, but far from boring with its fanciful arcade and balconies all carefully tiled and cast. Adjoining it is the Patio de la Muñecas (Patio of the Dolls) and close by the Salón de Ambajadores (Ambassadors’ Hall), formerly the throne room and captivating with its wooden honeycomb dome the color of wheat.
After the Moors had been routed from Sevilla and everywhere else in Spain and had holed up in Granada, the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabel plotted their moves from the Alcázar and later allegedly met with Columbus upon his return from the NewWorld. The rooms (today those off the Patio de la Montería), royal courts and halls of the Alcázar still serve as a Royal residence, as they have for six centuries.
In exiting the palace, as in touring it, cool, blooming gardens serve as a peaceful respite, and no more so than when the blistering Sevillano summer awaits
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