Andalucia 2012 – The Alcazar and Surrounds –

The Alcazar was the castle of Alfonso X, King of Castile, Toledo, Leon, Seville, and Cordoba. It began in 1328 as a military fortification, and was later extended to include gardens, transforming into a residence for the Catholic monarchs after the Reconquista. Christopher Columbus was received here by Ferdinand and Isabella.

  • King Alfonso X ruled from 1252 until his death in 1284. Alfonso promoted the arts, sciences, and law and recognized Spanish as a formal language of government, breaking Latin’s hold. He is commemorated in the US House of Representatives as one of the world’s most influential lawgivers.

The area outside the wall is a public park / plaza. I was surprised to find plazas of hard packed yellow clay more often than plazas of grass.

Unlike the other ‘castles’ here which are actually manor houses, the Alcazar feels like a fortification. A stone staircase takes you to the roof where the view is much better than what I would later find from the Roman Bridge.

The highlight of this building is the gardens in back, with its terraced pools down the center, filled with foot-long fish. There are mosaic pools in Romanesque themes in the back corner, as well as formal box hedges, and topiary. It was interesting to see how extensively water was used throughout gardens here.

I cross the wide, brick paved Roman Bridge to the Museum of Three Cultures.  There are buskers and a few craftsmen stationed along the bridge. Here’s a statue of Saint Raphael, guardian angel of Cordoba

  • Travel note: the museum here is mostly panoramas and ‘talking wax statues’ but the view is worth the walk.

Across the street from the Alcazar are the Caliph’s Baths, a partially restored ruin with a great many informational placards which describe its function and history, which I have detailed on my website at

The floor plan for the Caliph’s Baths

After failing in my quest for tapas at lunch, dinner is, at last, tapas! A small plate of marinated shellfish, and another plate of potato and pepper salad, followed by a flamenco show at the Tablao Cardenal. It was a great evening.

  • This is an excerpt from my original travel journal. The full text, which includes historical notes, is housed at

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