Alcázar (Seville)
Seville, Spain
The Alcázar of Seville was constructed during the 12th century Almohad reign, but was rebuilt in 1364 for the Christian ruler Pedro I ("The Cruel"). All that remains of the Almohad palace is a section of wall and a cross-axially-planned garden, but the rebuilt palace's plan, gardens, and decorative programme place it squarely within the tradition of Islamic palaces on the Iberian Peninsula.

The palace is arranged in blocks on three sides around a rectangular court, entered through the remains of an Almohad wall with arched openings. The block opposite the entrance has a façade ornamented with blind interlacing polylobed arcades. The entrance axis extends through two rectangular halls, across the main rectangular courtyard (the Patio de las Doncellas) and through the entrance to the rectangular hall at the opposite end of the courtyard. The Patio de las Doncellas is surrounded by luxurious rectangular reception halls ornamented with carved wood doors, ceilings, and polychrome glazed tile dados - all of which visually connect the Alcázar to the contemporary Nasrid palaces of the Alhambra. Paved with white marble, the Patio de las Doncellas has a large central fountain and is surrounded by an arcade ornamented with elaborately carved stucco. Arabic inscriptions referring to Pedro I as "sultan" are found throughout the courtyard and palace, carved in stucco and in wood.

The Patio de las Muñecas (Court of the Dolls) is a smaller, though richly ornamented, interior courtyard located southeast of the Patio de las Doncellas, but still within the palace block north of the entrance court.

The block on the west side of the entrance courtyard contains the square, vaulted Hall of Justice. The interior of the Hall opens onto the Patio del Yesso (Court of Stucco), whose name refers to the court's decoration in carved stucco. The two spaces are connected by water - a shallow fountain basin in the Hall's pavement flows into the pool of the Patio del Yesso along a shallow channel, much like the pavilion water features in the Alhambra's Court of the Lions.

Though the Islamicizing appearance of the Alcázar is traditionally attributed to the work of Muslim craftsmen sent from Granada, it is not clear that the visual language created by the Nasrids at the Alhambra was only executed by Muslim craftsmen. The existence of churches, monasteries, and synagogues on the Iberian Peninsula that utilise this visual language suggests that such forms were widely appropriated by non-Muslim patrons and craftsmen who could work in the popular idiom.


King, Geoffrey. "Spain." 1996. In Architecture of the Islamic World. Edited by George Michell. London: Thames & Hudson, 215.

Ruggles, D.F. 2000. "Palaces of the 11th and 12th centuries." In Gardens, Landscape, and Vision in the Palaces of Islamic Spain. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, p. 141-45.
Seville, Spain
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Associated Collections
ca. 1162 original palace
1364 reconstruction
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Variant Names
Real Alcázar de Sevilla
Royal Alcázar of Seville
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