The Patio de Monteria (Hunting Courtyard)
This was the main central courtyard of the Renaissance-era Alcazar, where Spanish nobles met to go hunting with the king. This was built over the residence of Moorish rulers.
Ahead is Peter’s Palace, and to the right is the Renaissance period part of the Alcazar, altered from the original Gothic.
Casa de la Contratación/Salón del Almirante (Trade House/Admiral’s Room)
The Spanish Empire was ruled from this building for two centuries, from soon after the discovery of the New World in the early 16th century, until Cadiz became the main naval and trading port in 1717.
The House of Trade managed and controlled maritime transport and trade between Spain and the Colonies: this was the headquarters where voyages were planned, crews assembled, contracts signed, and navigational maps and charts drawn up. It was founded in 1503 by Isabella La Católica. This was where Isabella received Columbus after his second voyage, and where the expedition of Magellan was planned.
The façade has an Italianate Renaissance gallery of brick arches and marble columns.
This part of the palace consists of the Chapter House/Navigators’ Chapel, the Fan Room, and the Military Chamber.
The Cuarto del Almirante (Admiral’s Room) is the largest, and is named for Columbus.
You can see a number of paintings, including portraits of Spanish royalty and aristocracy – the Dukes of Montpensier, Antonio de Orleans and Luisa Fernanda de Borbon, who lived in the Palacio San Telmo. Pride of place is taken by a painting depicting King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenia (who was Queen Victoria’s granddaughter) at the Ibero-Americano Expo 1929 in Seville.
In the Chapter House (also known as the Sala de Audiencias), the altarpiece’s central panel draws the attention. The celebrated painting, of the Virgen de los Navigantes (Virgin of the Navigators), is by Alejo Fernandez from around 1536. Sailors would pray to this virgin before setting out on their voyages.
The Virgin is spreading her mantle protectively over a number of figures including Columbus (grey hair, extreme left of picture), Carlos V (in red cloak), Ferdinand the Catholic, Amerigo Vespuccio, and the Pinzon brothers, who captained two of Columbus’ ships.
This painting was the first religious work dedicated to the discovery of America. Behind, to the Virgin’s left, are indigenous figures, converted to Christianity. The image emphasises the idea that the voyages to the “Indies” had a religious motive – to spread the word of God.
You can also see different types of ships from the Spanish fleet which participated in the expeditions.
It is surrounded by four additional panels including Santiago the Great beheading Moors, San Telmo (St Elmo, patron saint of sailors) protecting a ship, St Sebastian, and St John the Baptist.
In this room, you can see a model of a caravel (ship), the Santa Maria, which was Columbus’ flagship.
Look up for the spectacular gold ceiling with rosettes.
The Fan Room has an exhibition of unusual and rare fans, including made of mother of pearl, ivory and feathers.
The Cuarto Real Alto (First floor Royal Apartments)
The apartments are the present King's official residence when in Seville. The wedding reception of Infanta Elena, sister of King Felipe VI, was held here in 1995.
Started by the Reyes Católicos, as their main residence, and finished by the Hapsburgs, the new apartments doubled the size of King Pedro’s palace.
They were used during the winter months, being less inclined to cold and damp than the ground floor chambers.
Highlights include the Bedchamber of Pedro I, the Oratory of the Catholic Kings (look out for the retablo of tiles by Niculoso Pisano), and the Assembly Hall. Also the views from the Gallery of the Maidens’ Courtyard are amazing, although be aware that photos are not allowed.
You can also see Queen Isabella's bedroom and private chapel, the dining room, the king's study and other chambers.