Monday, July 8: I head to Seville’s intriguing Alcázar and its extensive gardens in hopes of finding some relief from the 43 degree heat. Sadly, I find there is no relief to be found anywhere on its grounds or in the shade of its gorgeous arches. However, it is stunningly beautiful despite the miserable weather in summertime Seville.
The original nucleus of the Alcázar was constructed in the 10th century as the palace of the Muslim governor, and is used even today as the Spanish royal family’s residence in this city, thereby retaining the same purpose for which it was originally intended: as a residence of monarchs and heads of state. Built and rebuilt from the early Middle Ages right up to our times, it consists of a group of palatial buildings and extensive gardens. The Alcázar embraces a rare compendium of cultures where areas of the original Almohad palace – such as the “Patio del Yeso” or the “Jardines del Crucero” – coexist with the Palacio de Pedro I representing Spanish Mudejar art, together with other constructions displaying every cultural style from the Renaissance to the Neoclassical.
I wander around the gardens for a good long while, as they are expansive, but I find it unbearably hot as it’s mid-afternoon and the sun is relentless.
When I wander into the Palacio de Don Pedro, I’m awestruck by the amazing arches and tilework. In my eyes, this architecture is some of the most beautiful in the world.
The Conjunto Monumental, or group of historic buildings encompassing the Cathedral/Giralda, the Alcázar and the Archivo de Indias, constitutes a remarkable testimony to the major stages of the city’s urban history (Islamic, Christian, and that of Seville with its associations with the New World), as well as symbolizing a city that became the trading capital with the Indies for two centuries – a time during which Seville was the hub of the Spanish monarchy and played a major role in colonizing Latin America following its discovery by Columbus. (UNESCO: Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville)
The Alcázar has been expanded and rebuilt many times in the 11 centuries of its existence. Ferdinand and Isabella, the Catholic Monarchs, stayed here in the 1480s as they prepared for the conquest of Cordoba. Later rulers created the lovely gardens.
The Placio de Don Pedro, also known as the Mudejar Palace, was built by Pedro I between 1360 and 1364. He built it in “perishable” ceramics, plaster and wood, following the Quran’s prohibition against “eternal” structures, reserved for the creator. At the heart of the palace is the Patio de las Doncellas (Patio of the Maidens) surrounded by beautiful arches, plasterwork and tiling. The Patio de las Munecas (Patio of the Dolls) has delicate Granada-style decoration, brought here from the Alhambra in the 19th century (Lonely Planet Spain). These are my favorite parts of the palace by far.
I meet Australian Barry near this gate; he looks as hot and wilted as I feel. He’s looking for Carole, who has wandered off somewhere.
When I finish my visit of the Alcázar, I go in search of a cafe where I can sit in the shade and have a cool drink. I find Carole and Barry sitting at a cafe near a fountain, and I join them for agua con gas, sparkling water, the only answer to the heat in Seville.