The historic secret baths at the Alcazar, Seville
The mystical, infinite arches, the alluring reflections in the waters and the fresh air in its atmosphere at the secluded historic Baths of Maria de Padilla is an obligatory stop to seek out when visiting the Alcazar complex in Seville.
This post aims to give you an overview of the famous historic baths at the Seville Alcazar, along with who Lady Maria was and the love between the King and her. After reading this post, I sincerely hope you will visit the famous Baths.
Easy Tips for Seville
If you are planning on visiting the Seville Cathedral as well as the Alcazar, you are best to book this combo ticket where you can enjoy a 4-hour guided small group experience.
In addition, if you are exploring the surrounding gems take a look at the amazingly easy day trips from Sevilla for a rounded experience of Andalucia.
An overview of the Baths of Maria de Padilla
Baños de Doña María de Padilla
The Baths of Maria de Padilla (Baños de Doña María de Padilla) were made famous by a legend associated with Lady Maria de Padilla, a noble lady and mistress to the King of Castile, Pedro I the Cruel.
Located within the grounds and in a secluded basement at the Royal Alcazar in Seville, Andalusia is the famous Baths of Maria de Padilla.
The Seville Alcazar historic baths are not magnificent or in any way regal baths at all. They are simple stone water cisterns built in the 12th century by the Almohads rulers. These cisterns were created to collect rain water which was supplied to the palace as drinking water. It was an area to shy away from the summer heat and served as a food storage area also.
The stone walls were coated with lime. Rain water was collected here before it was used as drinking water by the palace residents. Later additions were made to the ‘room’ by King Alfonso X in the 13th century. He added Gothic rib vaults during the latter part of 13th century. It was accessed by a barrel vault that led to the Garden of the Dance.
Following the Lisbon Earthquake in 1755, it became necessary for the Mudejar palace to undergo further modifications. The cisterns which were open to the gardens became an underground vault along with lateral corridors. The corridors were decorated with Renaissance paintings from the 16th century. As a result of its ‘underground’ location, the crypt is said to have a temperature of 15 degree Celsius lower than the outside and goes with the reputation of being the coolest place in Seville!
Legend of the Historic Baths of Maria de Padilla
Legend has it that the beautiful Lady Maria de Padilla, walked naked through the palace and bathed in the water cisterns to cool off from the scorching heat. Thereafter, King Pedro I the Cruel is said to offer the palace water in which Maria de Padilla bathed as a drink to his guests. Visitors drank the water for an audience with the King.
The mystical secret Baths of Maria de Padilla
About Seville Alcazar historic baths.
A spacious ‘room’ located below the Patio del Crucero is where you will find the stone water cisterns.
Visiting the secret historic baths today is an experience not to miss. The tranquility it bestows as soon as you venture through the corridors is augmented with the fresh air in the atmosphere. The beautiful vaulted Gothic arches seems endless. This vaulted crypt is divided into three naves with noticeable lateral ones being smaller than the central. The reflection of the arches off the water and the gentle natural light seeping through the sides makes this stop somewhat dreamlike and surreal.
The Baths of Maria de Padilla is kind of hidden within the Royal Alcazar complex. You can access it via the Gothic Palace, or the Mercury Pond when visiting the Royal Alcazar. If you are at the Mercury Pond, go down some stairs to the Garden of Dance and the Baths are on your right.
Georgina suggests: For many, the Baths of Maria de Padilla is a quick photo-stop but I encourage you to spend a few moments here to appreciate the ingenuous architecture and experience the mystical and serene atmosphere that is characteristic of this medieval hidden gem.
The love between King Pedro I and Lady Maria de Padilla
The King of Castile, Pedro I the Cruel was madly in love with the dazzling Lady Maria de Padilla but the irony is that they were never married.
King Pedro I met Lady Maria de Padilla in the summer of 1352. Their affair began almost immediately even though the King was betrothed to Blanche de Bourbon, the daughter of Duke Pierre I of Bourbon.
The King was very much in love with Lady Maria and he abandoned his wife three days after his wedding. He took Lady Maria as his mistress and brought her to live at the royal palace. The King also found out that his wife had an affair with his stepbrother, Fadrique Alfonso and he sent her off to be imprisoned at his mother’s palace, the royal fortress in Toledo.
Who was Lady Maria de Padilla?
Lady Maria de Padilla was the daughter of the Castilian nobles Juan Garcia de Padilla and Marie Gonzalez de Hinestrosa. She held her own court at the palace.
King Pedro I and Lady Maria had four children, three daughters and a son. Beatrice (1353-1369), Constance (1354-1394), Isabella (1355-1392) and Alfonso (1359-1362)
Sadly, Lady Maria born in 1335, died in the summer of 1361.
Following the death of Lady Maria de Padilla, King Pedro I asked the Arcbishop of Toledo to annul his previous marriages and declare that Maria was his first and only wife, thereby officially pronouncing Maria as queen posthumously. With this decree, it allowed the King to legitimise all of his four children with Maria. Lady Maria is buried at the Royal Chapel in Seville Cathedral. King Pedro I was buried alongside Lady Maria in 1369.
The Mudejar Royal Alcazar in Seville
The Baths of Maria de Padilla is only one of the very many interesting stops to seek out when visiting the breathtaking Mudejar palace complex in the heart of Seville. The Royal Alcazar is the oldest royal palace in Europe in use and offers a walk through history and unmissable architectural marvels.
King Pedro I built an impressive addition to the Alcázar palace complex: Pedro’s Palace between 1364 and 1366. An incredibly outstanding architecture of Mudejar style, the Alcazar is one of three monuments jointly made the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Just for fun …
If you are a passionate fan of the HBO series, Game of Thrones, you will instantly recognise that the Royal Alcazar of Seville was the backdrop to many scenes. In particular, the Baths of Maria de Padilla was featured as House Martell in the 6th season of the series.
How to visit the Historic Baths of Maris de Padilla at the Royal Alcazar
You can visit the Alcazar, Seville for free at certain times of day. Between the months of October and March, free visits are permitted from 4 pm to 5 pm. However, from April to September, complimentary access is limited to the hours between 6 pm and 7 pm.
At other times, you’ll need a ticket to visit the Baths of Maria de Padilla. There are several options and these are available as part of a guided tour or a stand-alone entry ticket, if you wish to visit independently. These are my selection of the best three ticket options for you:
PRO TIP: The Palace has a maximum capacity of 750 visitors. When it is full, it is full! Waiting times can be extremely long during peak seasons. It is a good idea to avoid the queues, save time and book your skip-the-line tickets ahead of your travel.
It is my sincere wish that this mini guide has given you the information you are looking for about the Baths of Maria de Padilla at the Royal Alcazar. The Royal Alcazar is set amidst vast grounds and it can be a little overwhelming to see everything the Alcazar offers within a short time. To thoroughly enjoy the Royal Alcazar you will need anything between two to three hours at least. For this reason, the following guides are designed to help you narrow down the choices of what to see. More importantly, it is a guide so you don’t miss the most important highlights of the Royal Alcazar.
The Alcazar, located in Seville, Spain, is an awe-inspiring complex featuring a variety of patios and halls. The complex is designed in distinct architectural styles, ranging from Mudéjar to Gothic. Notably, the “Baths of Lady María de Padilla” refer to rainwater tanks situated beneath the Patio del Crucero, named after María de Padilla, who was the mistress of Peter the Cruel.
The Baths of Doña María de Padilla at the Alcázar of Seville were built around the 12th century. Their structure can be traced back to an ancient Almohad garden. At the time, these baths served as a recreational area where people could seek refuge from the summer heat. Additionally, they were used as a water storage facility to preserve food and keep it cool during hot weather. The Baths of Doña María de Padilla are a remarkable example of medieval Islamic architecture, featuring elegant vaulted ceilings, intricate tilework, and unique underground rainwater tanks.
The Baths of Doña María de Padilla in the Alcázar of Seville are uniquely special due to their historical significance, underground construction using limestone and mortar, and their effective cooling mechanism. Situated underground, the thick stone walls and rainwater tanks help maintain a cooler temperature during the hot summer months. Their hidden underground location and historical significance make them a captivating and special attraction for visitors, showcasing the rich history and artistic heritage of medieval Spain.
Articles about the Royal Alcazar
Here are some of the important articles about the Royal Alcazar:
Additionally, if you are planning a trip to Seville, the following comprehensive articles about neighbourhoods in Seville and places to stay may be helpful also:
For some travel inspiration to Seville: 11 Best Quotes about Seville.
Travelling to Barcelona? You may like our Complete Guide to Best Things to do in Barcelona for a Winter Escape.
OUR BEST SELLING ACTIVITIES FOR SEVILLE
1 | For an all-round experience of the sultry city, opt for a food walking tour
2 | Buy a combo ticket to visit the Royal Alcazar, Seville Cathedral + Giralda.
3 | Enjoy timeless experiences on the Guadalquivir River.