Cordoba - The Alacazar

The city of Cordoba is full of visual treasures. The Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos or Palace of the Christian Kings, is worth a visit while you are here. Standing on the shores of the Guadalquivir River, it is full of beauty and history.

It was in its' halls that Christopher Columbus made his first plea for funds, to voyage to the New World. The Spanish Inquisition governed from here. Ferdinand V and Isabella I of Aragon and Castile planned the final assault on Granada, the last Moorish city in the Iberian Peninsula, from here.

History tells us the city was conquered many times. The many different styles of architecture used in the Alcazar are testament to this. Inside there are baths, gardens pools and fountains to see. Also inside and not to be missed is the mosaics hall. In the last two centuries it had turned into a jail. Now restored to its former glory , it is open to the public.

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Rulers of Cordoba

Moorish rule lasted from 711 to 1236 in this town. The Moorish ruler, Boabdil or Mohammed XII had had his states reduced to a tributary as the Christian kingdoms besieged Granada. He had requested help in retaking the city from his family. In 1236 Ferdinand III of Castile captured the city.

Modifications were made to many of Cordoba's buildings and monuments. A Moorish fortress stood near the Alcazar. It was torn down and replaced by the present Episcopal palace. In 1328, Alfonso XI of Castile built a new fortress on old Roman ruins. He realised the city required protection and needed a base to plan the conquest of the Moorish taifas.

Alcazar in Cordoba all 2 levels of the water pools from the top

Architecture of the Alcazar

The Alcazar is perfectly square. On each corner, there is a tower. Each one is of a different shape. The Torre de la Vela or Tower of the Dove no longer exists. It was destroyed in the XIXth Century. The surviving towers are:

  • the square Torre de los Leones or Tower of the Lions
  • the circular Torre del Rio or Tower of the Inquisition
  • the eight-sided Torre de Homenaje or Tower of Homage

The first of these is the entrance. It is also the popular. Its name comes from one of the gargoyles. Its ceilings are wonderful examples of Gothic art. It is the view from the top that attracts most people. You can see the gardens, the river and much more from there. The third in our list was where executions took place during the Inquisition.

Inside the Alcazar

There are Gardens, baths and some Roman artifacts inside. The gardens are around it and warmly invite you in. The Patio Morisco or Court of the Moors is in the centre of the Alcazar. Look for the coat of arms. They are full of pools, fountains, cypress and orange trees. The eastern side holds the Door to Seville with its dedication to the poet Ibn Hazm. Go through the gardens until you reach a long path with statues of kings and queens. Do not forget to stop by the Albolafia, which was a wheel bringing in water from the river to the gardens.

Picture of the Alcazar gardens from the other direction .. marvelous!

A Quick Virtual Tour

When you walk around inside the fortress, make your way to the Mosaics Hall. They are all spectacular and a few date from the time of the first Roman emperor, Augustus. Look for the 3rd Century sarcophagus. It might seem a bit out of place here. Make your way down to the baths, or at least what remains of their four rooms. The baths became an interrogation room when the Inquisition sat in the Alcazar.

When Granada was conquered, the Alcazar became a jail, which is when the Inquisition made its fated appearance. It remained so until 1812 when it became a military prison.

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