I said in my previous post that this post would cover my Spain “happy place”… And it will. I was talking about Seville’s Royal Palace, the Real Alcázar. I’m sure at this point you’re probably going “Ja ja, another bloody palace. How special can it be”, right? Well that’s exactly how I felt and I actually almost didn’t go in. But I am SO glad I did, because this place is truly special. I wished I could stay there for a few days, right there inside the palace walls, just to take it all in properly.
I envisioned learning how to meditate, spending my days pondering life in the lush gardens, dipping my feet into one of the many beautiful fountains, basically just being totally at peace… it’s really that kind of place… as cheesy as it sounds, it really moved me in some way. Which is stupid, cause it’s just a building right. But it did.
Now for some facts: This royal palace was actually originally a Moorish fort. The Moors were the medieval Muslim inhabitants of Morocco, Western Algeria, Western Sahara, Mauritania, the Iberian Peninsula (an area comprising Gibraltar, most of modern Spain & Portugal, and parts of France), Septimania, Sicily and Malta. Sjoe, that’s a long list… they certainly got around.
The Almohades (a Moroccan Berber-Muslim dynasty dating back to the 12th century) were the first to build this palace, which was called Al-Muwarak at the time. Today it’s said to be one of the best remaining examples of moorish architecture, even though subsequently, other monarchs each added their own touches to the Alcázar. But that’s exactly what makes it such an incredible place to see. You get Arabic, Moorish, Baroque, Renaissance and other influences, all somehow perfectly working together to create a palace like no other I’ve ever seen. Just amazing.
Today it is the oldest royal palace in Europe still actually in use by the royal family, who occupy the upper levels as their official residence when in Seville. It was also registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, along with the Seville Cathedral which I covered in my last post.
It’s 8.50 euros to get in. But if you’re gonna see just one palace in Spain, I highly recommend it be this one…
As you might have picked up from the “oh my goodness, I’m gushing” paragraphs above, I kinda really totally loved this place. So here’s a bucketload of photos for your enjoyment:
I really hope these photographs at least did it the tiniest bit of justice. Of course they will never match up to how it felt actually being there… I wish I could have captured that feeling in some kind of bubble I could bring home with me. Oh well… will just have to go back again someday.
Now other things my Eyewitness guide recommended you see in Seville, but I just didn’t have time to see (well on the inside that is), were two hospital buildings in fact:
And I now what you’re probably still wondering is “where the hell do we go to shop??” Yes, there’s actually some great shopping to be done in this very historical city. Calle Sierpes and Calle Velazquez Tetuan (they conveniently run parallel to each other) is where you want to be. They have pretty much all the great stores you’d expect to see in Europe, from the fabulously luxurious to the easy-on-the-pocket options. I was actually really surprised by the selection…
We’re not quite done with Seville just yet. There’s still some eating, drinking & flamenco dancing to come. Olé!