The Alcázar of Seville is considered the oldest royal palace in use in Europe and is one of the main monuments in the city of Seville, declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, along with the cathedral and the Alcázar.
More than a palace itself, it is a set of palaces and gardens that have been built throughout history from an original medieval Islamic nucleus. However, almost everything of the Muslim palaces has been lost, since the space was completely reformulated after the arrival of the Christians, with new palaces in Mudejar and Gothic styles, with reforms and extensions of the landscaped spaces with Renaissance contributions , mannerists and baroque.
We do not know the exact characteristics of the Islamic fortress, but it is certain that it was also subjected to successive extensions, especially during the 11th and 12th centuries, to form a set of various palatial rooms interspersed by patios and gardens, as would happen later in Christian era.
Archaeological excavations have shown that the main nucleus of the complex was articulated around an area that would go between the current patios de Banderas and del León. In this context is framed the so-called Patio del Yeso, the only significant remnant of this primitive Muslim palace that has survived, in addition to a good part of the walls that surround the Alcázar, which are also largely from the Islamic period.
The courtyard remained hidden among the houses that had been built in the area and was rediscovered at the end of the 19th century by the politician and art historian Francisco María Urbino. It dates back to the 12th century and is a small gem of Almohad architecture in the city. After its discovery, it was deeply restored at various times in the 20th century, until reaching the configuration that has survived to us.
It has a rectangular plan to which a portico with multi-lobed arches opens. One central, wider and taller, and three others on each side, supported by pilasters and four marble columns. It must be said that the structure of the portico is actually lintelled, so the arches do not have a structural function, so they fulfill a decorative function. This allowed them to dig deep into its ornamentation, using the work known as sebka, so characteristic of Almohad art and which reaches its maximum Sevillian expression in the decoration of the Giralda.
In front of this portico, on the other side of the cistern that occupies the patio, another one that has disappeared today would surely be located. What have been preserved are three horseshoe arches today blinded, which would give access to the rooms behind them. They are closer to the Caliphate tradition, framed by bishops and supported by marble columns.