The Palace of Pedro I is the heart of the Alcázar of Seville. Its original nucleus dates from the 14th century, although it has been remodeled throughout history, adapting it to the tastes and artistic tendencies of different times, since its use as a royal residence has continued from its origins to the present day. It is one of the greatest exponents of Mudejar history and one of the most artistically unique and outstanding palaces in all of Spain.
Its great promoter, Pedro I of Castile, reigned between 1350 and 1366 and was closely linked to Seville, residing in the city for long periods. In fact, he is buried in the Royal Chapel of the Cathedral, next to whom was her great love, Doña María de Padilla, whom he made recognized as the wife of the King of Castile once she died. He had a very tumultuous reign, due in large part to the wrath of his character, and to his interest in strengthening the royal power against the nobility and against any type of detractor, sometimes acting quite cruel. Although he was the only legitimate son of his father Alfonso XI, he had several stepbrothers, who ended up revolting around the eldest of them, Enrique, who would dispute the throne in a long civil war.
In the Hall of Justice, next to the Patio del Yeso del Alcázar, one of the brothers, the infant Fadrique Alfonso, would be assassinated by order of the king, and in 1369 Pedro himself would die at the hands of his brother Enrique, who would succeed him in the throne as Enrique III, beginning the Trastamara dynasty. In short, a king called the Cruel or the Justiciero depending on who tells his story, but a great lover of the city of Seville, a city in which many legends starring this king still persist today.
The palace was built between 1364 and 1366, emulating Muslim palaces such as the Alhambra in Granada, the Caliphates in Córdoba or the disappeared Almohads in Seville. To the Islamic elements, features typical of Christian architecture are added, forming the so-called Mudejar style. It is the richest and most perfect sample of this style, since it brings it together in all its manifestations, both in its structure and in its ceramic decoration, in its woodwork and in its plasterwork.
Although we do not know the name of the person who directed the work, it is known that artists, masons and artisans from Toledo and Granada came, in addition to those who were already in Seville.
It is made up of two main areas:
- A more formal area with a more official and public character, around the Patio de las Doncellas.
- The other with a more private and intimate character, around the Patio de las Muñecas.
The Palace undergoes numerous modifications throughout its history, adapting to changing needs and also to the change of protocol rules and tastes of each era.
For example, on the façade, the entire central body and the lower side arches correspond to the original period. However, the upper galleries are later, probably from the reign of the Catholic Monarchs, between the 15th and 16th centuries. We see that they are made of stucco, and not stone like the central ones, and that they show a strong influence from the Nasrid palaces of Granada.
The central part of the façade is enormously beautiful and unfolds vertically like a tapestry of great solemnity, delimited on the sides by brick pilasters resting on small marble columns. Above it stands a magnificent wooden eaves, originally completely colored, which we know is the work of Toledo masters.
The voussoirs of the lintel above the door, with their characteristic decoration with vine motifs, also seem to be due to Toledo masters. The polylobed blind arches that frame the door seem to follow Almohad Sevillian models, as we can see their similarity to those of the Patio del Yeso. The same happens with the arches that we see in the upper part.
The Granada influence is clear in the lintel of white and blue tiles that we see in the upper part. In it you can read four times, from left to right, and four times from right to left, in Kufic characters, repeating the Nasrid motto “there is no victor but Allah”, wa-lā gālib illà Allāh. The Castilian presence is clear in the inscription that appears on the molding, which says “The very tall and very noble and very powerful and very conqueror Don Pedro by the grace of God the King of Castiella et de Leon commanded these Alcazares and these Palaces and these covers that were dated in the era of one million and four hundred and two ”(1364). The date of the inscription corresponds to the Hispanic era, which begins in 38 BC, which is why it coincides with 1364 of the common Gregorian calendar.
In its original structure, if we take into account that the upper galleries on both sides are posterior, the façade would closely resemble that of the Comares Palace or Tower in the Alhambra, built around the same time, perhaps somewhat earlier.
Seville, therefore, has among its enormous heritage, one of the great jewels of palatial architecture in Europe, one of the wonderful treasures that Mudejar art left in the city.