The Alcazar of Seville is one of the most fascinating royal residences in Spain. This is due to the fact that it does not respond to a single project undertaken at a given moment, but rather is the result of numerous construction phases that have taken place throughout its history.
It has been used continuously as a royal palace since its Muslim origins, back in the 10th or 11th century, until today, in which it is still the oldest royal palace in use in Spain and Europe. Throughout its history, the different monarchs who have inhabited here have been adapting the different palaces, courtyards and gardens to the tastes of each era, until configuring the marvelous and diverse complex through which we can walk today.
Although its origin is a set of Muslim palaces, very little remains of this early period of the Alcázar. Most of the palaces that we are going to see correspond to the reforms undertaken in Christian times by:
- Alfonso X the Wise, who built the so-called Gothic Palace in the 13th century.
- Pedro I, called by some the Cruel and by others the Justiciero, who built the wonderful that is the true heart of the Alcázar. It was built in the middle of the 14th century and constitutes the peak of the Mudejar style.
- In the reign of the Catholic Monarchs, the so-called Casa de Contratación was built, of which we will also see some rooms on this side, intended to centralize and organize trade with the Indies, after the discovery of America in 1492.
All this is surrounded by a magnificent set of patios and gardens, which have been added and reformed until very recent times. It must be remembered that a part of the Palace of Pedro I, specifically the upper floor, is still used as the residence of the kings of Spain when they are in Seville.
Thanks to all this, its long history, its beauty and its architecture, the Real Alcázar of Seville was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in December 1987, together with the nearby cathedral and Archivo de Indias.
Convent of Dominican nuns founded at the end of the 15th century, when Queen Isabella the Catholic ceded a large plot of the old Jewish quarter of Seville to the nuns. Some authors maintain that the convent was partly based on one of the old synagogues in the neighborhood, but this information has not been confirmed. The building that has survived to this day dates from the second half of the 16th century.
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The main elements of the convent can be dated to that date: the church, a small patio that acts as a cloister and another larger one that is used as a garden.
The temple is one of the largest convent churches found in Seville and the architects Juan de Simancas and Pedro Díaz Palacios were involved in its construction. It has a rectangular plan, with a square head and high and low choirs at the feet.
The façade is on the Gospel side, accessed through a late Renaissance doorway. The royal coat of arms appears on the lintel, flanked by that of the Dominicans, a symbol of the patronage of the Crown. In the central niche, we see a relief by Juan de Oviedo with a beautiful representation of the Virgin and Child giving a rosary to Saint Dominic de Guzmán, founder of the order. Next to it appears the iconographic element that traditionally identifies it: a dog holding a torch in its mouth. In the attic there is an image of God the Father in an attitude of blessing.
Inside, a large wooden coffered ceiling covers the nave, while a magnificent octagonal vault on tubes, also made of wood, covers the presbytery area. The nave and the presbytery are separated by a large, richly polychrome main arch, a very characteristic element of the Sevillian conventual churches as well.
In the church there are more than twenty burials, among which those of Hernán Cortes's wife, Juana de Zúñiga, and two of her daughters, which are found on the sides of the presbytery, stand out.
The main altarpiece is the work of Francisco de Barahona from the beginning of the 18th century, made to replace a previous one from the 16th century. Some images of Jerónimo Hernández were preserved from the original, such as the Virgin of the Rosary in the central niche, also called Madre de Dios de la Piedad.
On each side of the presbytery there are two valuable Renaissance side altars from the second half of the 16th century. As usual in Sevillian convent churches, they are dedicated to the 'Santos Juanes', that is, to Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist, both the work of the sculptor and altarpiece artist Miguel Adán. However, it was Jerónimo Hernández who carved the image of Saint John the Evangelist, whom he represents at the end of his life, on Patmos, the place where he wrote the Apocalypse. The one dedicated to San Juan Bautista is just opposite and has a very similar structure to the previous one. In its central niche, Miguel Adán represented the scene of the Baptism of Christ.
They are not the only Renaissance altarpieces that the church has.
The one next to that of the Evangelist frames a beautiful panel painting with a Flemish-inspired Burial of Christ.
On the opposite side we find the altarpiece of the Virgen del Rosario, anonymous from the 16th century and of great quality. The image of the Virgin, in the center, appears flanked by Santo Domingo and Santo Tomás, while the rest of the altarpiece has a series of reliefs with different scenes from the life of Christ and the Virgin.
In the upper and lower choir space of the church, the nuns have set up a museum space in which a series of high-quality artistic pieces are exhibited, mainly sculptures from the 16th and 17th centuries. To cite just a few of them, we can mention the Virgin and Child by Mercadante de Brittany, a Risen One by Jerónimo Hernández or a Calvary by Cristóbal Ramos.
With the entrance to the museum, you collaborate with the large expenses that the convent has to face for the maintenance of the property and its valuable artistic heritage.
This convent was built at the end of the 14th century as Hospital de Santa Marta, a name by which many Sevillians still know it. At the end of the 19th century it became a convent, when the community of Augustinian nuns who occupied the original convent of La Encarnación, which was located in the square of the same name ('las Setas'), moved here.
What remains of the Hospital was the chapel, which became a convent church after the arrival of the nuns. It has a single nave and its presbytery stands out, which has the traditional square shape of the Islamic and Mudejar 'qubbas', covered by a vault with eight panels on tubes. The rest of the church is covered with a Gothic ribbed vault, supported on four interesting corbels with the symbols of the evangelists.
With the reconditioning of the 19th century, some reforms were made to the old hospital. It was then that the door leading to the Plaza Virgen de los Reyes was opened, the choirs were built and the vault was fitted with a lantern.
The main altarpiece was formed with sculptures from the disappeared convent, made around 1675 and by an anonymous author. From there come the group of the Incarnation or Annunciation that is located in the central niche and the two 'Santos Juanes' on the sides (San Juan Evangelista and San Juan Bautista). The presence of these two saints in the conventual churches of the city was a constant throughout the Modern Age. In the attic there is a small image of Santa Marta, of a different authorship and that would probably already be in the church before the arrival of the Augustinians.
On the sides of the main altar there are two neoclassical altarpieces from the 19th century, not of great artistic quality. In them and throughout the rest of the church a series of saints from the 18th and 19th centuries are distributed.
The Cathedral of Seville is probably the most emblematic monument of the city. Unesco declared it a World Heritage Site in 1987, along with the Alcázar and the Archivo de Indias. It is considered the largest Gothic temple in the world.
Most of its work was done in the late Gothic style during the 15th century, although it retains elements of the 12th-century Almohad mosque on which it sits, such as the Patio de los Naranjos or the Giralda. In addition, in the 16th century the Royal Chapel, the Chapter House and the Greater Sacristy were added in the Renaissance style. Later, during the Baroque period and practically up to the present day, various elements of the cathedral would be added and remodeled, until it became a true compendium of the history of art in the city.
Its floor plan is one of the hall calls, with a flat head and five naves, the central one being taller and wider than the rest. It has numerous side chapels located between the buttresses.
The supports are enormous pillars with a rhomboid section, made of brick and masonry and covered with ashlars. Rib vaults sit on them, so characteristic of Gothic. They are sexpartite in the chapels, quadripartite in the naves, and those corresponding to the transept, in the central part of the temple, are star-shaped.
On the side chapels and on the main axes there is a narrow gallery in the form of a clerestory.
Its construction was approved by the cathedral chapter in 1401. Legend has it that the project would be inspired by the phrase "Let's make a church so beautiful and so great that those who see it carved will consider us crazy" and according to the capitular act of that day the new work should be "one such and so good, that there is no other like it."
The House of the Moorish King is a construction dating from the fifteenth century, which makes it one of the oldest houses that we can find in Seville. It is currently the headquarters of the Blas Infante Foundation.
Virtually nothing is known about the history of this house, so we do not know where the nickname by which it is known comes from. The researcher Celestino López Martínez pointed out in his day that it could refer to the 'King of Niebla and the Algarve D. Abenmafor, in the mid-13th century'. However, no remains can be found in the house from before the 15th century, so the most widespread hypothesis today is that the Mudejar, 'arabesque' decoration of the house caused the neighbors to spontaneously identify it as Casa del Moro. .
The house has a rectangular floor plan, with a main façade facing Sol street and a lateral one through which the orchard was originally accessed. The rooms are distributed around a patio, which is the best preserved and most interesting space. It is porticoed on two of its sides on the ground floor and on three on the top. The arches are made of exposed brick, peralted on the ground floor and lowered on the top, and rest on brick pillars. It should be noted that originally most of the houses of the Mudejar tradition in Seville used to use this type of pillars, but very few have reached our days. This is because, with the arrival of Renaissance taste in the city, most of these brick pillars were replaced by marble columns, often brought directly from Italy. In addition, the pillars of this house are especially interesting because they adopt a great variety of sections, including on the upper floor some of the 'Solomonic' type, with the body twisted in a spiral.
The Casa de Salinas is an example of the type of Sevillian palace house from the 16th century, characterized by synthesizing the contributions of the Renaissance with the Gothic-Mudejar tradition of the city. It was ordered to be built by Baltasar de Jaén y Roelas from 1577.
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During the 19th century, the House went through various uses. According to its website, it even hosted a Masonic lodge, 'which when it left left an extensive trail of rumors about death practices and corpses buried in the house and nobody wanted to live in it. From these rumors he became convinced that the Freemasons had left a hidden treasure. The rumor was so strong that they began to make holes in the entire house. The search ended when they mistakenly punctured a septic tank with unpleasant consequences for everyone digging at the time.'
At the end of the 19th century, the house would be acquired by Eduardo Ybarra, who would undertake a profound reform to which we owe in part its current appearance. It would be enriched with elements such as the tiles of the Casa Mensaque de Triana, a mosaic by Bacchus from Itálica and dating from the 2nd century, a marble sculpture of the Virgen de los Remedios from the old Convent of Los Remedios and a series of stained glass windows from Pickman's factory for the upper dining room and main courtyard.
In 1930 the house would be acquired by Manuel Salinas de Malagamba and it would be then when it would take the current name of Casa de Salinas.
Architecturally, the house is articulated around a patio with a double gallery, with semicircular arches on the ground floor and carpanels on the upper floor. They sit on marble columns and are enriched with a profuse 'candelieri' decoration, very characteristic of Plateresque.
Currently, the Casa de Salinas is privately owned but is open to cultural visits and can also be rented for events.
The Casa de Pilatos is one of the most outstanding examples of 16th century civil architecture in Andalusia, constituting a beautiful synthesis of Italian Renaissance art and the Sevillian Mudejar style.
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Its construction began at the end of the 15th century by the Mayor of Andalusia Pedro Enríquez and his wife, Catalina de Ribera, although the bulk of its work was undertaken in the time of their son, Fadrique Enríquez de Ribera, first Marquis of Rate.
He carried out a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1518, touring a large part of Italy both on his way out and on his return, a fact that would greatly mark the physiognomy of the palace. He was able to admire great works of the Italian Renaissance in cities like Venice, Milan, Rome or Genoa. In this last city he would commission the sculptor Antonio María Aprile, the magnificent portal that constitutes the main access to his palace. It is made of white marble and reproduces the shape of a Roman triumphal arch, with Corinthian pilasters framing a semicircular arch. In the spandrels there are two classic medallions with the effigies of Julius Caesar and Trajan, both closely linked to the city. On the frieze, between the family coats of arms, there is a large inscription with metal characters inserted in marble, alluding to the construction of the palace and this doorway.
The façade is topped by a Gothic-style cresting, which apparently comes from a previous palace that the family owned in Bornos. In the central part of this balustrade, there are three pillars, each one with a Jerusalem cross and the inscription "4 DAYS OF AUGUST 1519. ENTERED HIERUSALEM", alluding to Don Fadrique's pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
From this pilgrimage, which apparently deeply marked the Marquis of Tarifa, most likely comes the name Casa de Pilatos by which the palace is generally known. For a long time the legend existed that the marquis had reproduced in his home the traces of the palace of the Roman praetorian Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem and that this is where the name would come from. In fact, the portico that faces outwards on the first floor next to this façade is sometimes referred to as the “Ecce Homo” balcony, since it would supposedly reproduce the space where Jesus was shown to the people in the famous Biblical passage.
The slightest formal and stylistic analysis of the palace makes it clear that this theory is nothing more than a legend. What does seem more probable is the relationship of the popular name of the palace with the famous Via Crucis that starts from it and that reaches the Cruz del Campo temple, which is still preserved in the current Luis Montoto street.
According to tradition, the Marquis of Tarifa, on his pilgrimage to Jerusalem, would have measured the exact distance that went from the praetorium palace where Jesus was tried to Mount Calvary where he was crucified. This distance would coincide with the one between the façade of the palace and the aforementioned temple.
The niche with a cross that is to the left of the main portal, made in the 17th century with colorful marbles of different colors, alludes to this circumstance. This cross would mark the first station of the aforementioned Way of the Cross, as can be read in the inscriptions that appear on the sides.
Inside, the space of the palace is articulated around a series of patios and gardens, generating a very complex layout.
The peculiar stylistic diversity of this space, which harmoniously brings together Gothic, Mudejar, Renaissance and Romantic elements, is the product of successive interventions on a rectangular courtyard, centered on the chapel and porticoed only on its short sides, built at the end of the s. XV by Pedro Enríquez and Catalina de Ribera. His son Fadrique, the pilgrim to Jerusalem, began his Renaissance transformation: he enlarged its dimensions making it quadriform, opened galleries on its four sides, replaced the brick pillars with Genoese columns and placed in its center the marble fountain also acquired in Genoa. Fadrique was inherited in 1539 by his nephew Per Afán, who, in addition to enriching its corners with the four main pieces of his sculpture collection (see no. 4), arranged around it a gallery of busts of ancient characters that, as a historical mirror, it reinforces the idea of continuity between the founding of Rome and the new empire of Carlos V. Already in the s. In the XIX century, novelties to the romantic taste are introduced, such as the opening of an access in its center, the replacement of the clay floor by marble and the placement of new pseudo-Nazarite mullioned windows.
The central and most emblematic element of the palace is the central patio. It has a marked Renaissance air, despite the profuse Mudejar decoration and the presence of Gothic elements. This is due to the profuse use of marble in columns and flooring, and the splendid collection of Roman pieces on display in the courtyard. For example, in each of the corners there are four Roman female sculptures, all original from the 1st and 2nd centuries. They represent Pallas Pacifera, Pallas as a warrior, Copa Syrisca and Faustina the Less deified as Fortuna. In the center of the patio, a marble fountain with a bust of Jano Bifronte, also original from the 1st century. In addition, the patio walls are crossed by a series of niches in which a magnificent collection of busts of original emperors is exhibited. one of the best private collections that exist of this matter.
These works are just a part of the magnificent sculptural collection that can be admired on a visit to the palace. The main nucleus of the complex was made up of Per Afán de Ribera, 1st Duke of Alcalá, mainly with works from the Viceroyalty of Naples, where he even financed excavations. The pieces have been exhibited in various rooms of the palace and many of them next to the so-called Jardín Chico, one of the two beautiful garden spaces that flank the palace. The interior rooms generally adopt names related to the aforementioned identification of the palace with the house of Pilatos. In this way, we have the Praetorium Hall, the Chapel of the Flagellation or the Pilate's Cabinet.
The Salón del Praetorio, between the main patio and the Jardín Chico, preserves all its original elements from the 16th century, including the magnificent wooden coffered ceiling and the tile covering on the basin and edge of the walls.
The Chapel of the Flagellation, located on one side of the main patio, is considered the oldest room in the palace, built in a Mudejar Gothic style. In its center is a column, which tradition identifies with the one used in the flagellation of Jesus and hence the name of the chapel. On the altar there is a paleo-Christian sculpture from the 4th century that represents Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Perhaps this is the oldest image of Jesus among those that can be seen in Seville.
The Pilatos Cabinet, located under the tower, has a square plan and an octagonal fountain in its center, elements that relate it to the 'qubbas' of Mudejar architecture. It is covered by an imposing wooden coffered ceiling. It is made of "street and rope" lacework made up of ten-sided wheels that have a ten-pointed star as their center, forming a composition that symbolically alludes to the celestial vault.
For its part, the upper floor was ordered to be built by Fadrique Enríquez de Ribera in the 16th century and was decorated with a series of illustrious characters from Antiquity and with an allegorical composition on the Triumph of the Four Seasons. Later, Francisco Pacheco, Velázquez's father-in-law, painted the ceilings with a series of mythological themes. Currently, a series of pieces from the Medinaceli collection are exhibited in these spaces, which include not only furniture and tapestries, but also paintings by artists such as Goya, Lucas Jordán or Carreño Miranda.
This is a palace house that was originally built in the 14th century, but has undergone numerous modifications throughout its history, especially in the 16th, 18th and 19th centuries. The main façade, in neoclassical style, corresponds to this last period. Currently, it serves as the headquarters of the San José de la Montaña school.
Inside, the house is articulated around a porticoed patio, with peralted arches with Plateresque decoration, which rest on marble columns. In the corner, as is usual in Sevillian mansions, a splendid staircase gives access to the second floor.
Some of the rooms in the medieval palace have been preserved, such as the so-called 'girls' room' and a square-shaped room used today as a chapel. The elements of greatest artistic value are preserved there, such as the tiled plinths with loop wheels, similar to those of the Alcázar, or the beautiful plasterwork with ataurique decoration, Kufic and scallop inscriptions. The octagonal wooden vault that originally covered the space was lost and today it has a contemporary cover that reproduces the shape of the original.
The upper floors are the result of the 19th century reform and have lounges decorated in English style.
It owes its name to the fact that it was built by the Pinelo family, merchants of Genoese origin. In 1524 it would be donated by the family to the chapter of the Cathedral, which would hold its property until the 19th century. By then, the result of the confiscation would return to private hands, passing through various owners and uses. In the 60s of the 20th century it was acquired by the City Council, which ended up ceding the property to the General Directorate of Fine Arts in 1972. It then began a profound reform directed by Rafael Manzano Martos. It is currently the headquarters of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Santa Isabel de Hungría and the Royal Sevillian Academy of Good Letters.
The main façade is quite simple and in it the different floors can be clearly distinguished, with the ground floor raised with ashlars and the first floor with brick. On the upper floor there is a viewing gallery with semicircular arches on marble columns, seated in turn on a Gothic-style balustrade.
The interior of the building is articulated around two patios. The first, smaller, served as a halt and is porticoed with carpanel arches on marble columns. The second is a magnificent Renaissance courtyard, also porticoed, but this time with semicircular arches resting on columns of castanets. The arches are richly decorated with Plateresque reliefs. In the spandrels there are a series of medallions with characters of the time, among which are the original owners of the palace. The arches on the upper floor are also supported by marble columns and are similarly decorated, although in this case they are lowered arches.
Among the rooms that surround the patio, a good part of the original wooden coffered ceilings from the 16th century have been preserved. It is also noteworthy the beautiful garden at the back of the house, very renovated in the restoration of Manzano in the 70s.
Also called Chapel of Maese Rodrigo. This small chapel is a beautiful example of the Sevillian Gothic-Mudejar style. It was built at the beginning of the 16th century and is the only remainder of the old Colegio de Santa María de Jesús, which was the seed of what would later become the University of Seville. The premises of the old school, which were attached to the Chapel, were demolished at the beginning of the 20th century to open the current Avenida de la Constitución.
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The driving force behind the creation of this primitive school was Rodrigo Fernández de Santaella. Hence, it is sometimes identified as the Chapel of Maese Rodrigo.
On the main façade we can see a beautiful ogee arch, rare in Sevillian churches, built with bichrome bricks, like the beautiful belfry. On the side façade we can see a beautiful richly decorated Gothic window, while on the lateral façade there is a simple Mudejar window with a polylobed arch and made of brick.
The interior is a single nave divided into two sections. The first, at the foot, is covered by a wooden paneling of clear Mudejar tradition. The second, at the head, is covered by Gothic ribbed vaults with terceletes. Between both parts, a large pointed arch arranged in the manner of a triumphal arch. The original tile baseboards have been preserved, made using the dry rope technique.
Artistically, it is worth highlighting the main altarpiece, a magnificent work by the painter Alejo Fernández, made around 1520, in a transitional style between Gothic and Renaissance. In the central niche is a Byzantine-style image of the Virgin and Child, probably made in Italy.