Seville – How the Royal Alcázar combined spectacular gardens and the slaughter of virgins
Talk to me about walking round gardens and you’ll normally find a trail blazing for the nearest exit.
But there is something different about the experience when it involves 30 degree heat, spectacular Moorish architecture and enchanting parks spreading as far as the eye can see.
The gardens of the Alcázar of Seville, situated in the centre of the Spanish city next to the dominating Catedral de Sevilla, are a mix of arcaded walks, patterned tiles and glistening pools.
In fact the area is not one garden, but a series of separate ones: The Princes Garden, the Garden of Flowers, the Garden of the Gallery, The Garden of Troy, the Garden of the Dance and the Pond Garden.
Surrounded by the high walls of the inner palace, each offers a smattering of evergreen foliage, water and the occasional shock of colour, whether from an orange tree or a bright flower.
It would be quite easy to get lost in the gardens for a day, relaxing under the trees, listening to the soothing sounds of flowing water and birdsong, and walking the palace walls.
The Alcázar itself was originally a Moorish fort and is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe.
Much of the most impressive architecture is mudéjar in nature, although the palace was renovated to the taste of Don Pedro – or Peter the Cruel – in 1364.
One of the most spectacular sites is the Patio de las Doncellas, or Courtyard of the Maidens, where legend has it, the Moors demanded 100 virgins every year as tribute from Christian kingdoms in Iberia.
Not something you’d find in the average garden…