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The Alcazar (Castles) of Spain: The Alcazar Castle of Segovia

An Alcazar (castle) is a Spanish word deriving from the Arabic 'al
quasar', meaning fortress or palace.
Spain has some truly magnificent examples of castle architecture - however, true alcazars are something a little different. Alcazars tend to be inspired by Moorish architecture, and were often built upon the remnants of 13th century Moorish fortresses.
These Alcazars originated from the time when Spain was occupied by Moors from North Africa - the period from around 711-1492.

There are some extremely famous examples of Alcazar castle in Spain. The Alcazar of Segovia is undoubtedly the most famous alcazar castle, as the fairytale turrets allegedly inspired the design of Disney themepark castles.
In addition, the Alcazar of Seville is one of Seville's most noted tourist attractions. The alcazar is a beautiful, extensive complex, and a part-time residence of the Spanish royal family.
The Alcazar of Cordoba is less well-known but no less beautiful than the others. The alcazar was a home to the Spanish Inquisition, and was a favourite residence of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.

  • The fantasy alcazar of Segovia, a fairytale Spanish castle

There are few Spanish castles - well, to be fair, few castles in the whole world - with the fairytale charm of the Alcazar of Segovia. You'll discover it within the province of Castile y Leon, in central Spain.
Apparently, the castle was the inspiration behind Cinderella's Castle in Walt Disney World: whether or not this urban legend is true, the Alcazar is undeniably breathtaking.

The Alcazar enjoys a spectacularly defensive position, as it perches on top of a huge rocky outcrop that's shaped rather like a ship's bow. As a result, fortifications have existed here since before 1155, and the site was subject to a building frenzy during the 13th and 14th centuries, which shaped the majority of the rooms and fortifications that you'll see today.

However, although it's a 'real' castle, those picture-postcard perfect spires and turrets are something of a modern fantasy.

In 1862, a tremendous fire burned away much of the roof and existing turrets, and so they were rebuilt and remodelled by some Romantic architects. Taking inspiration from some of the Romantic castles being constructed in Germany at the time, they rather exaggerated the fairytale aspect!

On visiting the castle, you'll be able to wander through nine, decorated period rooms, including a chapel and an armoury.

The most impressive of all chambers is the Sala de Las Pinas, where hundreds of ornate golden shields, shaped rather like pine-cones, hang evocatively from the ceiling.

This beautiful carving was completed in 1452, and is a lovely example of ornate Moorish design influencing Spanish castle architecture.

If you're spending a day in Segovia (probably as a day-trip from Madrid), don't forget to see the Cathedral and 782m Roman Aqueduct before you leave. The entire town is a real little treat for heritage lovers.

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