« PhotoHunt: Favorite | Main | Adiós Córdoba »

Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos

The word alcázar comes from the Arabic word al qasr meaning 'the castle'. During the height of the Caliphate, Córdoba governed over Al-Andalus—the portion of the Iberian peninsula under Arab control. In the 14th century, King Alfonso XI built the fortified Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (Castle of the Christian Kings) over the ruins of the former Arab palace.

10.21.2008.11.57.42.JPGFollowing the Christian Reconquest, the castle's walls witnessed other history-changing events: the planning and execution of the reconquest of Granada from the Moors; the initial meeting between the Spanish monarchs and Christopher Columbus; and the headquarters of the Inquisition.

Inside the castle, a gallery in the former chapel contains an impressive collection of Roman mosaic art, dating to the 3rd century AD and discovered in 1959 buried beneath the Plaza Corredera. In the hallway leading to the chapel, there's a splendid sarcophagus carved from a single slab of marble also from the 3rd century AD.

The gardens of the Alcázar are the main attraction and my favorite area of the castle. The first impression one gets upon stepping outdoors is the sound of water, found everywhere. A large variety of plants, neatly trimmed hedges, palm trees, cypresses, and orange trees adorn the terraced gardens overlooking fountains and large ponds.

The walk to the entrance to the castle is through a beautiful park frequented by the locals. The Alcazar's defensive walls can be seen in the background.

A long corridor along the front of the Alcázar.

A balcony overlooking the courtyard. The hanging curtain, made of a natural material similar to raffia, is the Andalusian version of a sunshade.

The room used for civil marriage ceremonies.

Mosaic of the Greek sea god Oceano.

Jets of water splashing into ponds in the gardens.

The statues of King Ferdinand, Queen Isabel, and Christopher Columbus.

A pond at the base of one of the many fountains.

Hedges, flowers, and trees in a terraced garden.

Gates decorated with the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Castilla and León.

More photos of the Alcázar can be found in my Slow Photos album.

Comments (7)

Great pictures - it's fantastic to see and read about your trip. ;)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Maria, great post. I enjoyed reading about the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos in Cordoba, especially since I didn't get a chance to visit it. It was very interesting to read about the history and I loved all the photos that you took. I loved what you said about first noticing the sound of water when going outdoors. I also found it impressive that water (flowing and still) was used a lot in many of the sights in Spain that I was also able to visit. Seems so relaxing to me.

I really enjoyed your entire album. Thanks so much for this wonderful post and for sharing your photos. I can see why Cordoba was a favorite for you. It's very beautiful.

Have a great week Maria!

I didn't know that was the history of the world Alcazar. That is neat. The garden is beautiful. We missed this garden. Cordoba was near the end of our trip and I think we were getting homesick and tired of the late Spanish nights. And now it is another reason to return.

Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos and history of the site.

Gorgeous photos!
I love the gardens. Thank you so much for sharing!

I love the way that curtain looks. And Oceano looks pretty cool too! Thanks to you and Kathy, I've got Spain in the back of my mind, although it will be tough to skip Italy one year. I need more vacation days, for sure!


Maria, I can understand why these gardens are a favourite with you -- they're very beautiful!

Centuries ago, this must have seemed a magical place. Actually, it still does!

Kathy, I’m enjoying blogging about Spain and going to your blog and reading your thoughts on the same city we visited. The Alcázar in Córdoba is beautiful but the one in Seville is stunning and huge. About the water element, I believe this is a legacy of the Moors just like the patios and mosaics.

Marta, I thought of you when I was looking through the garden photos. I wished I had taken notes of all the different plants and flowers around the gardens because there was a large variety. There was a fragrant garden and the only plant I recognized was the rosemary.
Córdoba is a wonderful city and easy to visit because it’s very compact. Ronda and Córdoba were my favorite cities on this trip.

Brenda, the gardens are lovely and so serene. An oasis in the city.

Annie, I know how hard it is to stay away from Italy but I know that you'd love Spain, not as much as Italy but almost …

Sandra, it is indeed a magical place and so full of history.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)