The Royal Alcázar of Seville is considered the first civil building of the city, and without doubt it is one of the most dense and complex of known monuments in terms of buildings, chronology and functions. Historically, it has been the seat of Hispano-Muslim dignitaries and princes, and since 1248 the Court of the Kings of Castile in Seville. In both the Islamic and the Christian periods, each epoch has left its mark in architecture or landscape, and hence the aspect offered to us today is the result of a series of constructions made over time and providing a synthesis of the city of Seville.
Mervyn Samuel nació en Bristol (Inglaterra) y estudió en su ciudad natal y en la Universidad de Oxford. Vivió y trabajó en Argentina y Perú antes de establecer su residencia en Sevilla y luego Madrid. Ha traducido varios libros sobre los palacios reales y museos de España y escrito dos de tema peruano. Ha colaborado con entidades culturales y de defensa del patrimonio natural y edificado en el Reino Unido y España, y viajado extensamente en Europa, el Mediterráneo y las Américas. Actualmente divide su tiempo entre España e Inglaterra.
The Alcázar or Royal Palace of Seville has almost a millennium of history beginning in the Islamic period of the 11th century and continuing to the present day, when it continues to fulfil its original role as a royal residence. Over the centuries buildings have been added in very different periods and styles, while the gardens have evolved to reflect the cultures and uses to which the palatine complex has been put by its varied occupants.
In 40 chapters, Tales of the Royal Alcázar of Seville evokes figures as diverse as the ‘Poet King’ Al Mutamid, who ended his life in North African exile, and Saint Ferdinand III who reconquered the city in 1248. During the reign of his son, Alfonso X ‘the Learned’, the palace became a centre for multicultural endeavours that laid the basis for the European Renaissance. In the 14th century King Pedro of Castile spent much of his tempestuous reign in the Alcázar, which he rebuilt in the Mudéjar style with the aid of Islamic craftsmen from his own city of Toledo and from his vassal state of Granada.
Other key moments in the history of the palace are the visits of Ferdinand and Isabel the Catholic, and the marriage in 1526 of the Emperor Charles V to Isabel of Portugal. Philip II and Philip IV both spent important if brief moments in the Alcázar, and Spain’s first Bourbon monarch, Philip V, lived there for almost five years in the 18th century. Later in that century the palace was frequented by eminent figures of the Enlightenment, while in the 19th century it experienced the drama of invasions and even bombardment.
The 20th century offered an opportunity for more peaceful events, further development of the gardens and renovation of the various palaces making up this most striking testimony to the multi-ethnic history of Spain and Europe.