Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos
The Alcazar (of the Christian Kings) features a castle, its own delightful gardens and a moorish bathhouse. This is a very popular monument.
A Muslim Alcazar once stood where the Episcopal Palace is today - this building was reformed in the Baroque period and was recently reconditioned in order to house the Diocesan Museum. Alongside this museum, the Exhibition Palace occupied what used to be the Church of San Jacinto and the Hospital of San Sebastian, an outstanding construction opposite the Mosque featuring a portico that stands out among the Gothic jewels in Cordoba. Inside, in the Romero de Torres hall, one can admire interesting 16th century frescoes.
Despite originating from the Christian era, these gardens are typically Moorish in design with ponds, fountains and aromatic plants. Adjacent to the gardens are the Royal Stables which extend to encompass the Gardens of the Campo Santo de los Márties.
The castle is almost a perfect square in plan of 4.100 square metres. It was rebuilt in 1327 by King Alfonso XI. His aim was to bring European Gothic architecture to the town. The castle walls connect the four (now three) corner towers by walkways or allures protected by battlements with prism shaped blocks.
The North west tower is the oldest tower of all, square in shape it has two floors. There are wide Almohad-style bands on the four external sides. There is a roof terrace with battlements. Inside both floors have attractive crossed vaults and supporting arches. The name derives from one of the gargoyles which can be seen on the upper floor.
Tower of the Inquisition
A circular tower in the south east corner facing the river. The exterior stonework features ashlar blocks laid in different directions. Inside there a three floors and the rooms have semi-circular vaults.
|The Alcazar, Cordoba.|
Homage Tower or Keep
The main tower is Octagonal in shape. This is where the occupants swore oaths to protect the fortress. On the top floor is the Reception Hall which has an attractive vaulted ceiling with ribs supported by capitals featuring vegetation sculptures. From the roof a smaller raised tower with a covered balcony proved the ideal place for the inquisition to carry out its public executions.
Tower of the Dove
The tower which no longer exists.
The Moorish style baths are situated in the basement and are fun to visit. They may well have been built by Alfonso XI. The first room is the changing room. The next three rooms are the Cold Room, the Warm Room and the Hot Room. There are skylights in groups of threes in the shape of stars which provide light and ventilation. The walls are made from hardened clay and some of the original marble floor slabs remain.
In a hall which housed the former chapel of the Inquisitions there are exhibited a magnificent collection of Roman mosaic art from the 2nd and 3rd century AD. The collection was discovered under Corredera Square in the city in 1959 and once belonged to a wealthy Roman Mansion.
A rectangular patio which is a fine example of Moorish architecture. There are motifs in Stucco around the base of the walls with drawings of castles and lions, ad patterns.
Outside the main castle walls the gardens occupy 55.000 square metres. It is certainly a very relaxing place to wander. There is a wide variety of plants, palm trees, cypresses, orange and lemon, trees to be seen which overlook stone fountains and large ponds. Originally the water was brought in by an aqueduct from the Sierra Morena and the great Albolafia waterwheel in the River Guadalquivir nearby helped with the supply. The large ponds were added in the 19th century.
- Winter (September 16th to June 15th ) Tue to Fri 08.30 to 20.45 hrs, Sat 08.30 to 16.30 hrs, Sun 08.30 to 14.30 hrs
- Summer (June 16th to September 15th) Tue to Sat 08.30 to 15.00 hrs, Sun 08.30 to 14.30 hrs
- Mondays Closed
- Last entrance 30 mins before close.
Entrance: 4,50 Euro. Children and under 14's FREE
Address: Calle de las Caballerizas Reales s/n
The Alcazaba is a municipal building and is run as such, with the mind set of a public office rather than a place of tourist interest. Don't be caught out by the Summer hours (see above). Be warned. When the author visited, the official closed the entrance gate in the faces of hopeful visitors, shouting "I don't understand when tourists eat, especially foreigners. It's two o'clock and one must eat!".