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Royal Alcázar (Real Alcázar)

Once a Moorish fort, this architectural gem is now the oldest functioning palace in Europe.

There are many things that make the Royal Alcázar, Seville's royal palace, special. It's particularly gratifying to know that Spain's royal family still uses part of it as a residence today. This astoundingly intricate complex is indeed worthy of any monarch – a rich mix of mudéjar architecture and subsequent embellishments made through the ages. This is not just one building, but a collection of them, ensconced in lush gardens.

The lower portion of the Patio de las Doncellas (Courtyard of the Maidens) was built at the behest of Pedro I in the 14th century. The centrepiece of the courtyard is a rectangular pool flanked by sunken gardens. Explore the decadent reception rooms that surround this courtyard and imagine yourself as one of Pedro's courtiers. He called upon artists and architects from both Spain and Morocco to execute this brilliant fusion of the Christian and the Islamic. Wander up to the courtyard’s upper section; this was an addition made by Carlos V. Look our for Luis de Vega's Italian Renaissance style, fused with mudéjar plasterwork.

The central palace of the complex is another commission of Pedro's. Accomplished marble columns, detailed stucco, colourful mosaics and an overhanging roof make the palace particularly spectacular. Also make sure you see the Patio de las Muñecas (Courtyard of the Dolls), where you'll be able to pick out two little faces positioned on the inside of the arch.

When it comes to the interior, the Baños de Doña María de Padilla (Baths of Lady María de Padilla) – two large rainwater tanks – show an astounding mix of practicality and aesthetic, looking almost like miniature, water-filled cathedrals. The golden domed ceiling inside the Salon de los Embajadores (Hall of Ambassadors) is another Royal Alcázar highlight.

The Royal Alcázar is in Seville's Old Town, on the east bank of the Guadalquivir. It can be accessed via the Plaza del Triunfo, which is adjacent to Seville Cathedral. The Royal Alcázar is open every day with the exception of national holidays. There is a minimal entrance fee.

Popular Activities at Alcazar

You'll find it hard to believe how many activities there are at Alcazar. Here are some ideas to get you going:

Check out our Historical Center things to do page to discover even more activities while you're here.

Guide to Exploring Alcazar