When my dad came to visit me during my semester abroad in Spain, he first came to Sevilla (where I was living) after arriving in Madrid. We did the obligatory day trip to nearby Cordoba (fantastic by the way) and then finished up by traveling north once more to Madrid (we also visited Toledo). Although he contemplated journeying to Granada to see that “somewhat” famous building there, he ultimately decided against it, finding it too far to reasonably fit it in as a day trip. Well, I’m here to tell those who may not be able to go to Granada to not despair-there’s a really cool, almost equally worthy building right in Sevilla…it’s called the Alcazar.
It’s official name is the Alcazar of Seville and it is a royal palace although it was originally a Moorish fort. It’s the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe and is considered to be one of the best remaining examples of Mudejar architecture, the name given to a particular style that was prominent from the 12th to 16th centuries and was strongly influenced by Moorish taste and workmanship.
The Spanish royal family stays at the Alcazar on visits to Seville, but it was also here that the Spanish royals King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella welcomed Columbus upon his return from the Americas.
Although the palace is incredible, be sure to include time in your visit for the gardens. They are simply spectacular, not to mention massive! Never would you think after stepping through the gates to the Alcazar from the Plaza del Triunfo that such a space of greenery lies there (it’s the same with a nearby attraction, Parque de Maria Luisa). The Jardín Inglés, modeled on 18th-century English gardens, dates to 1909, and the Jardín de los Poetas (Poets’ Garden) features two ponds that are reminiscent of those once designed by the Moors.
I loved visiting the Alcazar and thought to myself after visiting that it was definitely a place I should return to while still living in Sevilla. That it would be wonderful to come back and simply enjoy the gardens, either doing homework or writing in my journal. Sadly, I never did. It’s one of those innumerable travel regrets I still have, almost a decade later.