The Alcazar, Seville, Spain - November 2007
The Alcázar of Seville (Spanish "Alcázares Reales de Sevilla" or "Royal Alcazars of Seville") is a royal palace in Seville, Spain. Originally a Moorish fort, the Alcázar (from the Arabic القصر, al-qasr, meaning "palace") has been expanded several times. The Almohades were the first to build a palace, called Al-Muwarak, on the site. Most of the modern Alcázar was built over Moorish ruins for King Pedro of Castile (also known as Pedro the Cruel) with construction beginning in 1364. Pedro used Moorish workers to build his palace giving it a distinctly Islamic design. The palace is one of the best remaining examples of mudéjar architecture, a style under Christian rule in Spain but using Islamic architectural influence. Subsequent monarchs have added their own additions to the Alcázar. Charles V's addition of gothic elements contrasts with the dominant Islamic style.
Patio de las Doncellas
The English name for this section is "The Courtyard of the Maidens." The name refers to the legend that the Moors demanded 100 virgins every year as tribute from Christian kingdoms in Spain. The story of the tribute may have been used as a myth to bolster the Reconquista movement, but it may have had some truth to it in the sexual abuse of Christian women by powerful Moors.
The lower level of the Patio was built for Pedro I and includes inscriptions describing Pedro as a "sultan." Various lavish reception rooms are located on the sides of the Patio. In the center is a large, rectangular reflecting pool with sunken gardens on either side. For many years, the courtyard was entirely paved in marble with a fountain in the center. However, historical evidence showed the gardens and the reflecting pool were the original design and this arrangement was restored. However, soon after this restoration, the courtyard was temporarily paved with marble once again at the request of movie director Ridley Scott. Scott used the paved courtyard as the set for the court of the King of Jerusalem in his movie Kingdom of Heaven. The courtyard arrangement was converted once more after the movie's production.
The upper story of the Patio was an addition made by Charles V. The addition was designed by Luis de Vega in the style of the Italian Renaissance although he did include both Renaissance and mudéjar plaster work in the decorations. Construction of the addition began in 1540 and ended in 1572.
Los Baños de Doña María de Padilla
The "Baths of Lady María de Padilla" are rainwater tanks beneath the Patio del Crucero. The tanks are named after María de Padilla, the mistress of Pedro the Cruel. Supposedly, Pedro fell for María and had her husband killed. María resisted his advances and poured boiling oil over her face to disfigure herself to stop Pedro's pursuit. She became a nun and moved to a convent afterwards. She is regarded as a symbol of purity in the culture of Seville.
La Casa de Contratación
The Casa de Contratación (House of Trade) lies off of the Patio de la Monteria. It was built in 1503 by the Catholic Monarchs to regulate and promote trade with the New World. The Casa dealt with trade related legal disputes and gave the royalty a monopoly on trade with the Americas. The Casa also included "Hydrographic Bureau and School of Navigation" for nautical research and study with Amérigo Vespucci as the first director, "pilot major," in 1508. "Casa" includes a chapel where the Colombus met with Ferdinand and Isabella after his second voyage. The chapel has Mudéjar influence and displays the Madonna of the Seafarers, a triptych made in 1535 that depicts the Virgin protecting a group of Native Americans and several other seafaring and New World related scenes.
* Patio de las Muñecas
* Patio de la Monteria
* Puerta del León
* Dormitorio de los Reyes Moros
* Salón de Embajadores, 1427 by Charles V