In 1527, Toledo architect Pedro Machuca began construction of a palace within a palace. It's a Renaissance accomplishment by a disciple of Michelangelo. The money for its construction were obtained by taxing the Moriscos (converted Moors) who remained in Granada. The Alcazar in Seville is another Spanish royal structure with a complicated history. Construction on this enormous palace began in 1578, but it wasn't completed until 1668. This was also a time when the empire was going through a period of decline because of conflicts with France and Portugal.
The Alcazar has been used for many purposes over the years. It started out as a prison before becoming home to nuns and later a military school. In 1835, King Ferdinand VII lived there while he tried to regain his throne from Napoleon III. When Fernando VII died in 1841, the war between France and Spain came to an end and the king's body was returned home for burial.
After this event, the palace became obsolete and was abandoned for nearly 50 years. In 1899, King Carlos IV donated part of the property to create a hospital for poor people. In 1977, the rest of the property was given to the government, which in turn transferred it to a nonprofit organization called "Fundación Progreso y Humanismo." Today, the Alcazar hosts various cultural events including music festivals, film screenings, and more.
You can visit the palace grounds during daylight hours, but parts of it are closed to the public.
The Royal Alcazar, or Royal Palace, of Seville was originally a Moorish fort erected in the 10th century by the first Caliph of Andalucia. The present Royal Alcazar's construction began in the 14th century. It is a magnificent palace with large gardens that spread out along the banks of the Guadalquivir River. It has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
In 1556, after years of neglect, the building was largely destroyed by an earthquake. It was not rebuilt until 1575, when it was acquired by the Spanish Crown as a residence for their new queen, Elizabeth I. The palace became popular with other monarchs who wanted to imitate the splendors of Spain's capital city: Louis XIV of France, who visited in 1665, and Napoléon I who stayed here in 1812-1813 while preparing to invade Spain. Today, the Royal Alcazar houses offices of state and private apartments used by members of the royal family.
The word "alcazar" means "fortress" in Arabic. Thus, the Alcazar is a great mansion built at the time when Islamic rule in southern Spain was beginning to decline. Although it had been established by the Moors that it was a fortress, they did not build it as such; rather, they built a small town around it.
The Alhambra is the palace and fortress of Granada's Moorish rulers. It was built mostly between 1238 and 1358 on a hilltop above the city. After the Moors were expelled in 1492, it was largely destroyed and rebuilt in the Renaissance style. Today, parts of the original complex are preserved within the walls of modern-day hotels and restaurants.
The Alhambra palace and gardens in Granada are one of Spain's most beautiful landmarks. The original Moorish palace stood from 1238 to 1358. In 1482, the Spanish ruler Ferdinand and Isabel began work on a new palace for their guest. They finished only part of it before moving into their own home town of Madrid, so the project was never completed. Still, the Alhambra is today one of Europe's most important cultural sites.
Bayonne is a seaside resort and French city on the Atlantic coast, about 50 miles south of Paris.