MAIDENS COURTYARD IN THE ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE

The Patio de las Doncellas (Maidens Courtyard) is the center of the Palace of Pedro I in the Alcázar of Seville. This palace was built in the mid-14th century, replacing earlier Muslim constructions and is probably the most outstanding example of all Mudejar civil architecture.

Around this patio the spaces with a public purpose are articulated, while around the small Patio de las Munecas the palatial rooms are arranged with a more private character.

The ground floor corresponds to the original work of the 14th century, while the upper gallery responds to the reforms undertaken in the 16th century in Renaissance style.

This magnificent courtyard is surrounded by a gallery of polylobed arches, adopting one of the most characteristic decorative forms of Almohad art. The central arches on each side are larger, highlighting the main axes of the patio. They all rest on precious marble columns in the Corinthian style, brought from Genoa during the Renaissance to replace the original brick pillars.

The decoration is based on stucco, following the diamond-shaped pattern, comparable in style and quality to similar works from Córdoba or Granada. Among the ornamental motifs we see some as characteristic as the shell, a symbol of fertility, or the hand of Fatima, which symbolizes protection. All of them framed in a rich composition of geometric and plant motifs.

In the upper part, you can see a frieze with Arabic characters, in which you can read the motto of the kings of Granada, "there is no winner but Allah". This frieze also includes Christian heraldic motifs, such as the shields of Castilla y León, the imperial shield of Carlos V or the two columns with the motto “Plus ultra”.

The central part is crossed by an elongated pool, surrounded by depressed gardens. This type of patio allowed that when the trees bloom or bear fruit, they are just at the height of the people who walk around it. It is a frequent feature in Islamic gardens, which somehow recall the Paradise described in the Koran.

As we have already mentioned, during the 16th century this space underwent important modifications, especially in relation to an important event that took place in the Alcázar in 1526: the wedding of Carlos V and Isabel of Portugal. For the occasion, the patio was completely covered with marble tiles and remained so for centuries, until 2005, when, after an archaeological excavation, it was decided to recover the original Mudejar physiognomy.