During our summer vacation to Benalmadena, we took the opportunity to make several day trips to nearby cities and towns such as Ronda and Malaga as Benalmadena is such a fantastic location with many connections to travel.
One city that was high on my list of places to go and has always had a sense of allure for me, was the capital of Southern Spains Andalusia region, Seville.
Seville is a very popular tourist destination at the moment having been voted Lonely Planets best city to visit in 2018 and I’m often seeing pictures on social media of its narrow streets, vibrant personality and of course plenty of those Seville orange trees.
With its colourful tiles, rich history and as it’s known as the birthplace of Flamenco, Seville was a Spanish city that I desperately wanted to experience, even if only for a few hours.
As we travelled to Seville on a day trip, which is approximately a 2 hr 30-minute journey from Benalmadena, we only had around 4-5 hours time at most to spend in Seville (we will talk about the pros and cons of this further in another post) and as time was so limited, we really had to decide our priorities ahead of arriving.
When it comes to travel, I am a big fan of Pinterest when looking for inspiration of things to do. You will find many guides and tips for the most popular tourist destinations but also some great lesser-known destinations and recommendations that can make your trip all the more unique.
As I scrolled through pictures upon pictures of beautiful side streets, the Plaza de España and the modern Metropol Parasol, it was the Real Alcázar de Sevilla that kept grabbing my attention.
There was something so understated from the walls outside yet the internal design of the royal palace was so elaborate and intricate and with so many cultural influences that I did not expect, that I knew the royal Alcázar was one not to miss.
We had made our decision on how best to spend our time, we would visit the Real Alcazar, forgo a guided tour and instead simply enjoy the experience, taking in as much as we could from the visuals around us.
This is not for everyone but sometimes you have to make do with the time that you’ve got, unfortunately! And if you’re lucky, now and then you get to hear snippets from other peoples tours.
I am one of those travel bloggers (truthfully, this is just a personality trait) that like to arrive long before the opening, be one of the first if not the first in the queue and simply see places without the hordes of people that you find later in the day. Partly because I like to get a picture without too much noise in the background, partly due to social anxiety but mainly because I want to feel like I’m the only person there and I can soak up every detail, uninterrupted.
So you can imagine my stress levels as we travelled to Seville on a guided bus tour (although we chose to self-guide on arrival), a tour which is running approximately one hour late, meaning we had less time than expected on arrival. We did not know our bearings and it was close to lunchtime so we knew that the queues would be at their peak. I am reliving my anxiety as I write this.
Thanks to the digital age that we live in, we had access to google maps which directed us seamlessly from our drop off point to the Royal Alcazar. However, as anticipated, the queues were sizeable, to say the least. As a plan of attack, one that I think the majority of people adopt, I joined the queue while Peter made his way to ask the guards at the entrance how long entry time was expected to be and they advised over 2 hours.
Obviously, this caused a conundrum for us as we had chosen the Seville Alcazar as our only must-visit location but we were conscious of the time required for entry, the time required once inside the building and also allowing for further time to eat and experience more of the city within this short time frame of only 4-5 hours.
Booking Tickets To The Alcazar
Now, I mention this as we witnessed it with many others in the queue and we even contemplated it ourselves, you know, ‘Hey, maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. We can come back to Seville on holiday and visit when we have more time..’ and all of the other usual sentiments that you use to placate yourself from the disappointment you feel but we had an epiphany, or more likely just a wild last hope and that was to book tickets online.
Revolutionary. And yes, I know and fully appreciate how moronic it sounds to advise you to consider booking tickets online but the thing is, no one in the queue was doing it. People were either leaving the queue and missing out on the opportunity to visit the Real Alcazar unnecessarily, which is such a shame or there were likely people similar to us, who were on a short day trip that wasted hours in the queue that could have been spent that extra time further admiring and experiencing the beautiful city of Seville.
I think we all have the notion that we must pre-book tickets for entry to these things prior to going on holiday, that we must book a time slot on a particular day or else face the massive wait times for tickets on the day but it is definitely worth checking as we booked our tickets while standing in line, received the confirmation email (no printout required to be shown) and then skipped the line and entered straight away. Fantastic. We may have paid a slight extra but this came down to a couple of pounds difference in cost and was more than worth the time saved. And saved us from the unbelievable heat of the afternoon sun.
Inside The Royal Alcazar
Once inside the Royal Alcazar, and especially at the time of day that we visited, it can be quite difficult to navigate around people and it becomes somewhat of a sensory overload.
The decoration of the Palacio Mudéjar art (which is the style of ornamentation and decoration seen in many of the initial rooms) is beautiful and undeniably one of the main standout features of the Palace. This is where more people tend to congregate. As did we.
There is so much detail to appreciate, from the walls to the floor and the ceiling that it becomes almost comical. Rooms full of people walking in silence and not quite knowing where to focus their attention. I loved and hated this aspect in equal measure.
This can be frustrating if like me, you want those incredible photos with minimal background noise. However, I would suggest that if you are like me in this sense, it may be better to focus on the details rather than trying to capture the overall rooms (as beautiful as they are) and I would also say that the rooms are quite dark in nature so it may not always appear as you expect from the pictures you see online and may not always be captured as you would hope.
Another standout feature of the Royal Alcazar is, of course, the infamous patio. It is incredibly picturesque and although there isn’t much more to look other than the patio itself in this area in the way of artefacts, it is a thing of exceptional beauty and another area in which people congregate.
I think we are all hoping for that incredible picture to take home and show our friends and family or to add to our social feeds but I believe that this would be incredibly difficult to achieve unless you went very early in the day.
And I want to stress that although I often mention the number of people in the Alcazar when visiting, it is still a very calm and relaxing experience and there is a real sense of quiet appreciation for the location.
I found while walking through the Palace that you could feel a movement of the times with the decor and it became much less Moorish and more modern without feeling too inconsistent. As the decor becomes more modern you find the less focus placed on the initial aesthetics and more information is provided about the history of the Alcazar.
This then leads us on to the magnificent gardens. These formal gardens are so vast and were by far one of my favourite parts of the visit. I could never have expected how large this area is from the view outside. It’s something else. Filled with fountains and ponds, pools, pavilions, arches and galleries, the gardens are enclosed by a great wall which features as much attention to detail as the rest of the building and you have these beautifully kept walkways surrounded by a lot of greenery.
There is a lot of greenery in these gardens (personally, this is my favourite), we are not talking pretty flower arrangements but it feels incredibly rich and luxurious and can take several hours to fully experience.
Again, our time in Seville was limited so we couldn’t appreciate the gardens as much as I would have liked to. Another option I would have loved to take would have been to see the Cuarto Real Alto which is a guide to the Royal quarters because I have seen the photos online and it looks magnificent. I would highly recommend that you look into this if available as this is still functioning Royal accommodation and certainly something special to see if you have the opportunity.
And just like that, the majority of our time in Seville was spent. I truly believe that we made the right choice in visiting the Real Alcazar of Seville and my only regret is that we did not have more time to fully explore.
But, as with our initial sentiments of ‘oh, we could come back..’, I do in fact think we would love to return to Seville for a longer duration and do it all over again which is truly a testament to how beautiful this Palace and city is.
When Was Alcazar Seville Built?
Originally built in the 10th century (I don’t know about you but that blows my mind) as a fort, it was eventually used as the Royal Palace and main residence for several monarchs.
What Is The Real Alcazar Seville?
The Real Alcazar Seville is most commonly known for being the Royal Palace built for King Peter of Castile.
It was built on the site of an Abbadid Muslim fortress and rebuilt after the Christian conquest of Seville as the palace we now see.
In 1987, The Real Alcazar in Seville was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the Seville Cathedral and Archivo General de Indias.
How Long To Visit Alcazar Seville?
Set aside approximately 1.5-2hours for visiting the Royal Alcazar.
How much is it to visit the Alcazar Seville?
Ticket costs begin from €12.50
Monday from 18:00 to 19:00 from April to September, and from 16:00 to 17:00 from October to March is free admission
What Time Does Seville Alcazar Open?
Open daily 9.30-7 pm
How To Buy Alcazar Seville Tickets?
In our opinion it is definitely better to book your tickets in advance as the queues on the day are likely to leave you standing in the hot sun for a lot longer than you need to be.
Skipping the line costs a few euros extra, but it gets you in immediately and gives you more time to look around this beautiful building.