Sevilla - Day 2 - Real Alcázar, Cuarto Real Alto and Parque de María Luisa (2024)


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June 11th 2024

Published: June 11th 2024

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On the way to Real Alcazar

Today was a bit overwhelming! Bernie pre-purchased us a ticket for ‘Visita Real Alcázar + Cuarto Real Alto’. The ticket we had printed out was all in Spanish so we may have been a little hazy about exactly what it entitled us to BUT we knew that we had a tour of the Cuarto Real Alto at 10.00am and needed to arrive 15 minutes before the tour.

We couldn’t read any instructions about priority entrance or where we should report to and have no idea if such information was even on the ticket?? We left the apartment about 9.15am for the 13-minute walk to the palace. Syri and Bernie walked us right past where I thought we should be heading to, on the basis of where we were yesterday, until there was a moment when Bernie finally announced we’re going the wrong way. We retraced our steps to the main entrance for the Real Alcázar which is across the Plaza del Triunfo from the Catedral.

Bloody hell, we turned the corner and there were MASSES of people everywhere and no sign where we should go with our tickets for the 10.00am tour of the Cuarto Real Alto. We were

milling about in great confusion which was very stressful when a tour guide saw the ticket we were holding and said go, go to the front of the line you have priority ticket, and you need to to get moving right away for 10.00am tour. From there we just kept showing our tickets to staff who were happy to fast-track us along. Thank goodness. How good would a big sign saying ‘Ticket holders for Cuarto Real Alto tour enter here’ be??

We made it in time to the first floor of the palace where we were met by security guards, given a security briefing and had all of our belongings scanned and secured in a locker. So, no bags, no, cameras and no mobile phones. We were only allowed to proceed in the clothes we were wearing and even then, still had to pass through a body scanner. The tour turned out to be very exclusive. There were only eight of us corralled behind a tape after our security clearance awaiting the commencement of the 10.00am tour in English. We were allocated audio guides and told to press the green button on the count of one, two, three, go.

Real Alcazar

A guard unlocked the door, and we were ushered into Cuarto Real Alto - the actual private quarters of the Royal Family. The rooms occupy the first floor and it’s where the royal family resides to this day when visiting Sevilla. We have to confess that we had no idea that this is what Bernie purchased. We just thought it was a timed general admission ticket. Whatever, it got us into the complex PDQ without having to wait in line with the great unwashed. Our tour through the eleven rooms that form the opulent, luxurious and regal part of the palace was very interesting with our audio guide explaining the function of each room, the decorative style(s) and the significance of pieces of art and furniture along the way. As we moved through the rooms a security guard would usher us forward into the room for which our commentary was commencing and another guard would bring up the rear of our group to make sure no-one lagged behind or strayed off the designated tour route.

At the conclusion of our very exclusive tour, we handed in our audio guides and retrieved our belongings. We were then able to

Real Alcazar

make our way into the Exposición Azulejos Sevillanos that is also housed on the first floor of the palace. The collection of tiles and porcelain ware is considered one of the most significant private collections in Spain. This part of the first floor is open to those with general admission tickets, so we now had to mix with other people again! Not too many venturing up to the first floor though as it’s probably not on the tour guides’ route?

So, the entire monument of the Real Alcázar de Sevilla is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the oldest royal palace in Europe that is still in use today. It dates back to the 11th century when the Muslim authorities decided to build a fortress in a strategic location to protect the city. The small part that we had seen so far was but a fraction of the greater complex that is made up of various palaces and gardens that were designed in different historical periods resulting in varied architecture combining Islamic, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Romantic elements. The complex also contains some fine examples of Mudéjar art which is the product of combined Islamic and Christian culture.

Real Alcazar

Heading down the stairs it was time to try to get our heads around this vast complex AND come to grips with the sheer number of PEOPLE in the complex. Ugh! Earlier I was stressed about the drama of getting to our tour in time, now I was stressed about how many people there were in every single space that we visited. I took lots of photos of ceilings because it was useless trying to take photos of anything else because all I would have been photographing is people. It’s just lucky that the highly decorated ceilings are the most beautiful part of the interiors.

Before we had made our way through all of the separate but integrated palaces, I was well over it and starting to feel quite claustrophobic. The route just seemed to go on and on along with masses of other people with no respite. Even if we had occasionally exited into open spaces, I would have coped better but the press of strangers was unrelenting. Finally, when I was just about freaking out for want of some fresh air, we spilled out of the Palacio Gótico near the Puerto de Marchena which led us

Real Alcazar

into the gardens. What a relief.

The gardens were much less populated, so we spent a bit of time exploring the gardens and finding the Galeria de Grutesco, Pabellón de Carlos V, the Cenador del Leon and a very old sour orange tree purported to be 500 years old. The highlight though was the peahen and chicks and the peaco*ck who put on quite the show for us.

So, I thought today’s itinerary was the palace and the palace gardens and then a relaxing afternoon. However, I was told at some point that there was ANOTHER garden for us to visit and we would start heading towards the Parque de María Luisa and stop for lunch along the way. And for some reason I formed the impression that this other park was not too far away. We didn’t have a map of the city conveniently left in the apartment as we did in Granada, so ALL my trust was being put in Bernie and his sidekick Syri.

We stopped for lunch not far from the palace ordering scrambled eggs with potato and chorizo. This came with crusty bread and was delicious and a couple of long cool

Real Alcazar

glasses of sparkling water went down a treat as the day was turning quite warm. A possible downside to the venue we had chosen was the constant stream of horse-drawn carriages trotting past? On the whole though the horses here look better fed than the ones in Dublin and there’s nowhere near as much horse poo in the streets! Anyway, we made it through lunch without any manure smells to contend with.

Onwards we walked, through the Puerto de Jerez and Jardines del Christina then past Palacio de San Telmo (the state government offices), the university and Casino de la Exposición. Reviewing Google Maps now it’s only 650 metres from the bottom of the palace gardens to the entrance to Parque de María Luisa but, of course, we didn’t exit at the bottom of the gardens we exited opposite the catedral so we walked MUCH FURTHER than 650 metres. I’m not actually sure that we could exit via the bottom of the gardens even if Syri tried to guide us that way?

Finally arriving at the park, the next challenge was to find the Plaza de España. Actually, it’s HUGE so we couldn’t really miss it with or

Real Alcazar

without Apple Maps! The plaza is Sevilla’s most famous square. Many of the Spanish Renaissance-style buildings surrounding the square were designed by Anibal González for the Ibero-American exhibition of 1929. Apparently, the goal of the exhibition was to make symbolic peace with Spain’s former American colonies.

As with so many spaces on this holiday, it’s not scaffolding for repairs/restoration that we have to worry about, it’s outdoor concert season and so many venues are covered with temporary stages, seating and sound and lighting gantries!! It does rather detract from the outstanding beauty of the buildings’ facades. Oh well, with some tight cropping hopefully we managed some photos that aren’t filled with modern technology and people, the ever-present hordes of people.

Bernie wanted to explore the park, I wanted to head back to the apartment because I was exhausted. Along the way this afternoon we picked up the City Sightseeing Sevilla Hop On – Hop Off brochure that includes a map. At least now I can see where things are in relation to each other. Staying in the shaded walkways we explored the park a little bit. On the plus side it was quieter than the area around the

Real Alcazar

Plaza de España. However, it’s bit of a dry and dusty sort of park with a few rather crusty old lakes and fountains that are popular with the ducks and swans and the turkey ducks which are one of the ugliest birds on the planet … and smelly from it being a birds’ toilet. Even the sight of cygnets and ducklings couldn’t bring a smile to my face.

Bernie asked Syri to guide us back to the Avenue de Maria Luisa. Damn, she doesn’t know that half the entrances to the park are blocked off with stuff to do with the outdoor concert season, so we went around in circles trying to find our way out of the park. Once we managed to find the exit, Bernie took me across the road to El 29 a conveniently located bar and restaurant where we could sit in the shade for a while, have a drink and use their facilities.

When I felt somewhat recovered, we started heading back towards ‘home’ with a very threatening black cloud hanging over the city. Would we make it before the heavens opened?? We made our way to the Torre del Oro on the

Real Alcazar

bank of the Canal de Alfonso XIII. The tower was built around 1220 as part of the city’s outer defenses. With the sky darkening we continued along the canal for a while before crossing to the other side of Paseo de Cristóbal Colón and finding ourselves outside the Plaza de Toros, the bullfighting ring.

Not somewhere we would have planned to go finding the idea of bullfighting repugnant. Ugh, I just Googled and should not have. It tells me that 35,000 bulls are still tormented and killed in Spain each year. However, it also tells me that the ‘sport’ is dying out in most parts of Spain with younger people wanting nothing to do with it. It is thought that it might die out completely over the next decade. Hopefully.

With it starting to rain we were pleased that Syri was telling us we were very near our apartment. We picked up our pace a bit and found ourselves outside our local ice-cream shop just as the rain was getting heavier. What better reason to call it ice-cream o’clock than to take shelter from a thunderstorm! By the time we had eaten our ice-creams in store the rain

Real Alcazar

had eased for our dash along the street to the apartment. We hardly got wet at all.

Although the storm had passed, and the sky was blue again we decided to eat dinner very close to the apartment. Tcht, another false start. Google said Opening at 8pm, but when we arrived at ten past, they still weren’t open. Opening at 8.30pm we were told. We returned to the apartment for 20 minutes and when we went back at 8.33pm we only just managed to secure the last table! It’s a bit of a lottery getting a table for dinner here. And our body clock is getting out of whack with later lunches and even later dinners! But when in Spain I suppose …

For the second day in a row, we haven’t achieved our Exercise goal. We are reaching our Move goal with ease, so we are walking FAR enough, just not HARD enough. It’s too flat here, we need a hill like we had in Granada. That was looking after our exercise goal getting our hearts pumping when we slogged up the hill every time we returned to the apartment, ha, ha.

Steps: 16,905

Real Alcazar


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Sevilla - Day 2 - Real Alcázar, Cuarto Real Alto and Parque de María Luisa (2024)
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