Along the Santa Cruz neighbourhood in Seville, a royal palace stands in glory, commanding the attention of tourists on a Seville holiday. A brilliant display of Mudejar architecture, Reales Alcazares was once a Moorish fort, later converted into Pedro the Cruel’s abode. Today it is a notable tourist attraction; the home of architectural treasures and stories about the kings that once inhabited it.
Salon de Embajadores or the Ambassador’s Hall is the most captivating part of the palace. It is wrapped entirely in shimmering gold leaf; with colourful friezes and patterns plastered on its walls. Elegant, ornate horseshoe archways loom overhead, supported by gilded pillars. The dazzling golden dome brightens the hall.
The Patio de las Doncellas, the Courtyard of the Maidens, was named after the legend of 100 virgins sacrificed to the Moors as Christian tribute. Built for Pedro I, the patio’s lower level features a large, rectangular reflecting pool, surrounded by sunken gardens. Sprawled near the pool is a courtyard, which was featured as the King of Jerusalem’s court in the film Kingdom of Heaven.
Los Baños de Doña Maria de Padilla, the Baths of the Lady Maria of Padilla, are water reservoirs with stunning interlaced archways that emit a faint golden glow under the sun’s rays. The rainwater tanks were named after Pedro the Cruel’s mistress, Maria de Padilla. According to stories, Pedro the Cruel ordered the comely Maria de Padilla’s husband killed. Determined to deny the king his prize, Maria poured boiling water over her face to discourage the covetous ruler, and moved to a convent to become a nun. Today, she is hailed as a symbol of purity throughout Seville.
Reales Alcazares is open on Tuesdays to Saturdays, 9:30am to 5pm. Retired persons, pensioners, Seville residents, disabled persons, and students with valid IDs get free admission.