Traveling to Spain, especially in the south, it is always an opportunity to enjoy artistic hybridization, generated by the diverse cultures that in certain periods have coexisted in the territory. Dive into the history of the Royal Alcázares of Seville and learn every hidden detail of the spectacular landmark.

In ancient times and during the Middle Ages, different civilizations arrived in Andalusia to turn the region into an area characterized by the hospitality for which its inhabitants are still famous to this day. Later in the early modern era, it was from its Atlantic coasts where navigators sailed to explore the uncharted West, whose resulting round trips enriched the artistic forms once more.

When was the Royal Alcázares constructed

The Royal Alcázares of Seville has not only witnessed various civilizations but has also contributed to their formation. The name, Alcázar is a Spanish word that comes from the Arabic al-qaṣr which translates to “the castle” or “the palace”. In fact, the construction of the Alcázares started after 712 during the period of Islamic domination, originally functioning as the residence of Muslim emirs and princes. Although the oldest preserved remains date back to the 11th century, the recent archaeological excavations of the nearby Banderas courtyard confirm that this was an inhabited area built in the 9th century BC. The Arabs chose this place to locate their castle because it was -and still is- one of the highest, well-protected points of the city.

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The Royal Alcázares of Seville

The oldest royal residence still in use in Europe

The citadel began to gain importance in the first half of the 12th century when this fortress became also a large palace called Al-Mubarak, “The Palace of the Blessing”, and the house of the Poet King al-Mutamid. Under the reign of Almohads, during the caliphate of Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Mansur, Seville was the capital of an empire on both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar. That is when new buildings for the residence of the Caliph and his court were erected. After the conquest of the city by Ferdinand III of Castile in 1248, the Alcázares became a palace for Christian kings. And to this day it is the oldest in-use royal residence in Europe. Home to several royal families, the palace is not the reflection of the taste of a single king or a single dynasty. Each era or reign has left its mark and therefore today, we see an overlap of different periods of art and very unique examples of cross-cultural architecture.

The link to the Americas

The link to the Americas is also a major chapter of the history of Alcázares. Here, in 1503, the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand founded the House of Trade of the Indies, which managed the trade monopoly of Seville with the American colonies. For almost 200 years, these headquarters were located within the walls of the Alcázares. It is not a coincidence that Charles V of Habsburg married Isabella of Portugal in 1526 in this palace in the main city of Spain at the time.

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The Royal Alcázares of Seville is the oldest royal residence still in use in Europe

Juan Alberto Romero
Art historian and tour guide, he is aware that bringing people closer to the cultural and natural heritage and communicating it with a critical attitude contributes to making our everyday environment a happier place.