I absolutely love Islamic architecture. The way a design can be so incredibly detailed, intricate and geometrically perfect yet somehow, appear simple and effortlessly beautiful at the same time just blows me away. From the floral patterns and Arabic script on the walls to the placement of fountains and plants, every element feels like it is exactly in the right place; there is harmony. For this reason, I was beyond excited to go to Granada but I got a small taste of what I would see earlier than expected when I visited El Real Alcázar de Sevilla i.e. the Royal Palace of Seville.
My day began with a late desayuno (breakfast) at a tapas bar and restaurant on Avenida Menéndez Pelayo. In Spain, the first meal of the day is quite light as lunch is usually the biggest one and the breakfast menu is often available up until close to 1pm. At Casa Carlos, I ordered a typical tostada which is a long bread sliced in half with tomato spread and olive oil. I added cheese to mine and had a cafe con leche as well along with a zumo naranja. The total cost was under €4 and even that was only because of the fresh orange juice as it added an extra euro or so to the bill. Casa Carlos had a nice atmosphere with white walls and wooden furniture and I ended up going there for breakfast over the next couple days too. After eating, I went back to Plaza del Triunfo where I waited in line to buy my tickets for the Alcázar.
Around twenty minutes later, I paid a few euros at the entrance and upon passing through the gate, I was greeted by a small rose garden and the Palace of Don Pedro in the distance.
I walked up to the inner court called the Patio de Montería and stood there for a few seconds taking in the Palace’s Façade. The Abbasids were the first to build a palace on this site but since then, changes and/or additions have been made to it numerous times by later Muslim and Christian rulers. In fact, the Alcázar continues to be used by Spain’s royalty today as it is their residence in Sevilla. The Palace of Don Pedro was built from 1364-1367 in a predominantly Moorish style because apparently, Pedro liked their architecture so much that he hired Muslim architects from Granada for its construction.
The Arabic sentences in blue use the Kufic script and they say, “there is no conqueror but Allah [God].” Above and below them, in Byzantine-style alphabets, are sentences praising Don Pedro. The rhombus patterns that you see above the arches are called “sebka.”
I first entered the building on the right which had a couple rooms with old hand fans, paintings from the 19th and 20th century and a small chapel. In my excitement to get back to the Façade, I did a quick walk through it and returned to the Patio.
The elegant hall inside soon led to the Patio of the Maidens. This was my favourite part of the Palace!
Stars are a common theme in Islamic architecture such as the 8-pointed star seen on the ceiling in the left photo. The beautiful honey-comb like design inside the arch is called “muqarnas.”
Across the Patio were some of the private rooms.
The ceiling in Salón de Embajadores (Hall of the Ambassadors) is incredible.
The Patio de las Muñecas or the Patio of the Dolls.
The left photo shows the ceiling in Cuarto del Príncipe (the Prince’s Room).
Once I was finished looking around Don Pedro’s Palace and the relatively newer Palacio de Carlos V, I went out to the gardens. They were lovely and definitely an upgrade from Maria Luisa Park. Strolling around them was a great way to wind down my visit to the Alcázar.