El Costurero de la Reina (literally, the Queen's sewing box), dating from 1893, is the first neo-Mudejar style building in Seville. It was commissioned by the Infanta María Luisa, Duchess of Montpensier, to serve as accommodation for the guards of the gardens of her palace in San Telmo.
Juan Talavera y de la Vega was its architect and conceived the project as a small and romantic castle, with towers at the ends. On its facades, the color albero and almagra alternate, in an arrangement in stripes to which the architect would also resort a few years later in another of his most famous works, the Casa Mensaque on Calle San Jacinto, current headquarters of the Triana district. .
Elements such as the arches that frame doors and windows, or the beautiful battlements that finish off the entire complex, directly evoke the Islamic past of the city, following the historicist trend that has so much weight in Sevillian regionalist architecture.
The name of Seamstress of the Queen comes to it because tradition places there María de las Mercedes, daughter of the Dukes of Montpensier, sewing during the afternoons while awaiting the visit of her lover, the young King Alfonso XII, who would come to woo her. from the nearby Alcazar. Both were first cousins and despite opposition from the king's mother and from the government, they ended up getting married in the Basilica of Atocha in Madrid when Mercedes was only 17 years old. The love story soon had a tragic end, as the young queen died just five months after her marriage, sick with typhus.
The romance of Mercedes and Alfonso enjoyed great popularity, inspiring children's songs, couplets and even a couple of films. However, it seems clear that the building we are dealing with today did not actually serve as the setting for that love story. Mercedes died in Madrid in 1878, fifteen years before the Costurero was built. In a city as legendary as Seville, it is sometimes difficult to separate history from romance.