Also known as the Reales Alcazares de Sevilla or the Royal Alcazars of Seville, this spectacular structure is the crown jewel of Seville. In fact, the Alcazar of Seville is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a renowned travel destination in Spain.
The oldest royal palace still in use in Europe, the upper levels of the Alcazar of Seville are used by the royal family as their official residence. Obviously, that means that certain sections of the Alcazar are off limits to the public. But there is so much to pack in, that you won’t even feel that you were ever “denied” anything.
Admission and Tickets
The Alcazar of Seville is open 7 days a week, from 09:30 to 17:00. It is closed on the following days:
- 1st January
- 6th January
- Good Friday
- 25th December
The Alcazar of Seville is one of the busiest historic sites in the world. If you buy your tickets ahead of time, you won’t have to wait in the long lines outside the main entrance.
Advanced tickets are available on their official website. Select the time slot of your preference, and you will receive the tickets for the selected date and time. The Alcazar of Seville only emails the tickets 2 days before your visit. You can have the tickets printed out at your hotel, or download them onto your iPhone or iPad.
I went for the General Entry tickets which cost € 11.50. There is a surcharge of € 1.00 per ticket. An audio guide costs an additional € 5.00. The General Entry does not include the High Real Room.
If you want to see the High Real Room, entry will cost you € 16.00. There is a surcharge of € 1.00 per ticket. An audio guide costs an additional € 5.00.
If you are interested in night visits, tickets will cost € 14.00. You will be taken on an exclusive nocturnal tour of the palace and gardens.
The Alcazar of Seville has free entry on Mondays. This does not include the High Real Room. Reservations can be made online to avoid crazy lines (because you won’t be the only one interested in free entry). There is a surcharge of € 1.00 per ticket.
- October to March: 4pm-5pm
- April to September: 6pm-7pm
Puerta de Leon
The Puerta de Leon is the main entrance into the Alcazar of Seville. The gate gets its name from the tilework inlaid above depicting a crowned lion. While you can only pass through the entrance at your allotted time slot, you are welcome to explore the palace and grounds till 30 minutes before closing time.
Patio de las Donchellas
As you pass through the Puerta del Leon, you enter into a courtyard. This is the Patio de las Donchellas or “The Courtyard of the Maidens”. Legend has it that the Moors used to demand 100 virgins every year from the Christian kingdoms in Iberia as a sign of tribute.
As I walked through the lower levels of the Patio de las Donchellas, I was beginning to understand why the Alcazar of Seville is considered as one of the most beautiful examples of Mudejar architecture on the Iberian Peninsula. The intricate inscriptions along the walls, the lavish reception rooms, all culminating in a large reflecting pool in the center. I can imagine myself in the shoes of a sultan, walking these corridors, his embellished robes swishing along the marble floor. Feeling so royal already!
The Alcazar of Seville was originally a Moorish residential fortress belonging to the Abbadid dynasty. After the Reconquista period, several modifications were made over the years that interspersed Renaissance, Baroque and Gothic styles into the original facade.
I saw many of these additions as I walked along the Alcazar of Seville. For example, the upper storey of the Patio de las Donchellas was designed later in the Italian Renaissance architectural style.
Los Banos de Dona Maria de Padilla
Upon descending into the lower levels of the Alcazar of Seville, you will enter the serene sanctorium of rainwater tanks. Situated beneath Patio del Crucero, the tanks are named after Maria de Padilla, the mistress of Peter the Cruel.
Fancy having your own underground pool? This is your place to be!
Another example of a later architectural modification is the Gothic Palace. Built by Alfonso X in 1254, the palace consists of the Tapestry Room, the Chapel, and the Feast Room. These rooms were largely used for court proceedings.
Personally I wasn’t bowled over by the Gothic Palace, especially after all the stunning Mudejar artwork. If you are running short on time, you can skip this section of the Alcazar of Seville.
Salon de Embajadores
One of the most opulent and stunning rooms in the Alcazar of Seville is the Salon de Embajadores or “The Ambassadors Reception Room”. The sheer artisanry of this room was a reflection of the extent of power held by the Alcazar of Seville. In fact, it is in this very room that the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and Isabella of Portugal celebrated their wedding.
The work along the walls of the Salon de Embajadores is purely stunning. How can mortal hands carve such magic, and why do modern minds fail to recreate such creativity? I think I must have wandered in and out of this room a million times. All I have to do is look up at the ceiling, that dark brown vortex with golden specks, drawing me in transfixed. I just had to keep looking at it. I think I have fallen in love with the Alcazar of Seville. This place is just incredible.
The Palace Gardens
No palace is complete without its gardens. The Alcazar of Seville, like other palaces of Al Andalus, is furnished with fragrant flower gardens, fruit orchards, irrigation channels, and pools.
Nothing beats strolling through such lush green spaces after hours of walking around the palace. These gardens are some of the finest in the whole of Andalusia. I was lucky enough to find some peahens to keep me company!
Patio de la Monteria
Last but not the least, don’t forget to take your picture against the facade of the Palacio del Rey Don Pedro. The best angle lies on the southern side of the Patio de la Monteria.
The Patio de la Monteria was once the congregating place for knights and huntsmen with their horses and provisions, whenever the king was preparing for a hunt. Owing to its proximity to the Puerta de Leon, the patio is also referred to as the Patio del Leon.
Today, the Patio de la Monteria has become one of the most photographed sites in the Alcazar of Seville. The background of the Palacio del Rey Don Pedro makes for the perfect postcard picture, a great way to remember the grandeur of the Alcazar of Seville.