- Type: Architecture
NileGuide Expert tip:
Come in the evening and take a romantic stroll through the beautiful gardens.
Commissioned in 1328 by Alfonso XI, the Alcázar of the Christian monarchs is a fine example of military architecture. Ferdinand and Isabella governed Castile from this fortress on the Río Guadalquivir as they prepared to reconquer Granada, the last Moorish stronghold in Spain. Columbus journeyed here to fill Isabella's ears with his plans for discovery. And it was at the Alcázar that Ferdinand and Isabella bade Columbus farewell as he set out to chart unknown territory and discover what (for Europeans) was a new world.
On a less happy note, the Alcázar was the headquarters of the dreaded Spanish Inquisition for 3 centuries. A former Arab bathhouse in the basement was turned into a Counter-Reformation interrogation center.
Originally, the Alcázar (Fortress) was the abode of the Umayyad caliphs. Of their former palace, little remains except ruins. You can see some Moorish courtyards with ornamental basins and some cooling pools and baths. Also on view are some impressive Roman mosaics from the time of the Emperor Augustus. One of them has alternating geometrical motifs, and yet another depicts Polyphemus and Galatea. A Roman sarcophagus is representational of 2nd- and 3rd-century funereal art.
If they are open, you can climb the towers, Tower of the Lions (Torre de los Leones) and Tower of Homage (Torre de Homenaje). The Tower of the Lions contains intricately carved ogival ceilings that are some of the most notable examples of Gothic architecture in Andalusia. At the top a panoramic vista unfolds, taking in the Alcázar gardens, the river, Puente Romano, and Torre de la Calahorra.
The Gardens of the Alcázar display their Arabic origins, complete with terraces, pools, and cooling fountains. Cypresses stud the earth, as do towering palms and orange trees. The Cordobeses themselves use these magnificent gardens on summer days to escape the unbearable heat that descends on their city.
The centerpiece of the fortress, the Patio Morisco (Court of the Moors) is another lovely spot, with twin pools and an ivy-covered grotto, and pavement decorated with the coats of arms of León and Castile.
- © Frommer's 2013
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- Caballerizas Reales
- Cordoba, Cordoba 14004
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