Day 50 - Alcázar Palace Garden
31 January 2022
Exhaustion brings the best sleep. Wake up feeling great. We have two jobs today. Working out how to get to Barcelona. Visiting the Alcázar Palace Garden. Breakfast first. Shell finds this cool little cafe a few hundred meters away. OK coffee. Nice food. Great vibe.
We both love to garden. Shell introduced me to Monty Don, the British Horticulturist. He has hosted Gardeners' World for almost twenty years. He also does a series on gardens of the world. One series was on Islamic Paradise Gardens. The Alcázar Palace Garden was featured. I am a Monty Don fan.
“The point is that this is all gardening. The garden runs through our lives like a river through a field, like air in our lungs. The garden does not end in space any more than it does in time. The flowers grow as much in our minds as in the soil. “ - Monty Don
This will be image-heavy. I make no apologies.
There is some history here. This place goes back. Before it was called Seville, it was Ixbilia. In 913, the Caliph of Córdoba Abderrahmán III an-Násir ordered the construction of a new government compound, the Dar al-Imara, on the southern flank of the city. This is the bones of the Alcázar Palace.
In the 11th century, the second king, Al-Mu'tamid, expanded the structure to the west with a new palace ‘Al Mubarak’. Various additions to the construction such as stables and warehouses were also carried out. As Seville was established as the capital of Al-Andalus, the Almohade caliphs made the Alcazar their main residence
At its heart, the Alcázar Palace is an example of classic Islamic architecture.
Enter the Christians and the Crusades. Much butchery and bloodshed.
From good old wiki -
“With the start of the Christian era in Seville, the Alcazar was converted into the residence of the Christian monarchs. Changes were made to the buildings to fit the needs of the monarchs and the court life. In the years 1364–1366, king Pedro I built the Mudéjar Palace, an example of the Andalusian Mudejar style. Under the Catholic rulers Isabella and Fernando, the upper floor was extended and transformed into the main residence of the monarchs.”
What makes this place special is the retainment of the Islamic influence. The palace is a convergence of Mudéjar style Islam, Roman Gothic, and Renaissance architecture. All have been retained over history to create something extraordinary. The sum is greater than the individual. Somehow one does not dominate. There is rare harmony.
The gardens are incredible. Islamic at heart. Oasis gardens in every corner. Within the walls of the palace, sweeping paths that wander through meticulous gardens. Orange trees are everywhere. Heavy with fruit.
“Les jardins sont des poemes
Ou l'on se promene les mains dans les poches.
Gardens are poems
Where you stroll with your hands in your pockets.”
― Pierre Albert-Birot
A brilliant morning of breathtaking architecture, history and stunning gardens.
We walk to the train station. We only have a few weeks left in Spain. We need to get to Italy and extend our visas. And drink their wine. Barcelona and the ferry is our destination. We don’t have time to cycle the distance.
We discuss hiring a van for a few days. Drop down to Gibraltar then follow the coast. It will cost too much. Not just the van. Fuel, tolls and accommodation. It sits better using public transport. If not bike and our own steam, public transport is the next best. We did the van in Bilbao when we had no alternative. Now we have a choice.
With the bikes, there is no direct line to Barcelona. Madrid on the MD and then the trusty Regional Express to get from Madrid to Barcelona. A few nights in Madrid sounds good. Two very long days on the train. I don’t mind, I love riding the train.
We walk home. Both happy that our journey will be on trains. We will miss Gibraltar but see Madrid. Grab some lunch. Tomorrow is another day in Seville. Some bike maintenance and a Moroccan lunch.
It has occurred to me that our journey through Spain and Portugal on the bikes is at an end. Next ride will be Italy. It will be the last month of winter.
“From all that I saw, and everywhere I wandered, I learned that time cannot be spent. It can only be squandered.” ― Roman Payne