The Real Alcázar of Seville

The Real Alcázar of Seville | A Guide to the BEST 22 Unmissable Highlights in the Alcázar Complex

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A rich history, stunning architecture, exquisite tile work and glorious gardens, the Real Alcázar of Seville is a breathtaking spectacle and a joy to explore.


Visiting the Real Alcázar of Seville

The Real Alcázar of Seville is an exceptional and the most popular attraction in the Andalusian city, therefore long queues at entry are expected. To reduce waiting time, pre-purchasing a ticket is advisable at www. alcazarsevilla.org/

In either case, this perfect guide has all the information you are looking for to plan and accompany you on your visit to the Real Alcázar in Seville. So, come, walk along with me …

Real Alcázar of Seville  | timelesstravelsteps.com


The Real Alcázar of Seville, Andalusia

Part I | A brief history on the Real Alcázar in Seville

Let’s begin with a brief history …

The Alcázar was born as a fort to the then Cordoban governors of Seville but an angry revolt in 913 led to its destruction and the occupation by the first caliph of Andalusia, Abd al-Rahman III. He built a stronger and dominant fort on a site where a Visigothic church had once stood to protect the city of Seville from attacks. The major rebuild came in the 11th century when the fortified construction was enlarged, stables and storage facilities were added along with a palace, known as Al-Mubarak which means “the Blessed” was built. The Al-Mubarak is on what’s now the western part of the royal palace complex.

When the 12th century came along, another palace was added to the east of Al-Mubarak by the Almohad rulers, and what is now known as the Patio del Crucero.

There are still some archaeological remains of the Almohad palaces and these are preserved under the slabs of the Montería Courtyard (Patio de la Montería), the main courtyard of the Real Alcázar of Seville.

In the mid 14th century, between 1364 and 1366, King Pedro I built the magnificent Mudéjar Palace, which remains to this day as the core of the Real Alcázar complex. He was known as Pedro the Cruel and lived in the palace with his mistress, Maria de Padilla. Some referred to him as Pedro the Just because he defended the Muslims and the Jews. Whether he was Pedro the Cruel or Pedro the Just, he left a remarkable legacy in the form of a majestic palace for all to relish.

Later, the Catholic monarchs, King Ferdinand II of Aragon and his wife, Isabella I, Queen of Aragon came to rule Seville (1474 – 1504). They extended the upper floors and converted these into their main residence. These upper floor royal apartments are still in use and open to viewing by the public with a special timed ticket.

What is in the ‘name’ – Real Alcázar

The word “alcazar” originates from the Arabic word “al-qasr” meaning “the castle” while “Real” means “Royal” in Spanish. Hence, Real Alcázar means Royal Castle/Palace.

The official name is “Reales Alcázares de Sevilla” or Royal Alcázar of Seville. The palace name aptly represents the very many palace complex and gardens that evolved over time reflecting the rich history of the Muslim and Christian cultures in its architecture.

No matter how you reference it, Real Alcázar de Sevilla, Royal Alcázar of Seville, Real Alcázar of Seville or simply as the Alcázar, the royal palace in Seville is one of the most exceptionally enchanting places to visit.

Part II | The Best 22 Unmissable “see and do” in the Real Alcázar palace complex in Seville

The Royal Alcázar of Seville is vast! The gardens alone are said to be over 24,000 acres plus the 4.2 acres of opulent and historic buildings, though not all is accessible to the public. It can take almost half a day, if not more to explore this majestic place to your heart’s content. Every part of the palace is absolutely wonderful but there are some sights which you must not miss. From its many architectural styles, grand halls, majestic courtyards to mystical secret baths, the Royal Palace of Seville will captivate you and take you on a journey through the ages.

* The architectural styles of the Real Alcázar in Seville

While there still exists some remnants of the ancient architecture of the Al-Mubarak, the Real Alcázar of Seville has seen many architectural styles succeed one another throughout the centuries.

1 | A unique blend of architectural styles

horseshoe designs - Moorish architecture the Royal Palace of Alcazar

The Moorish style encompassed rectangular centre with four corners of living spaces. Decorated with horseshoe and interlacing arches, intricate ornamentation of Islamic art with arabesques, calligraphy and geometric patterns using plaster and tiles.

Other parts of the Real Alcázar underwent a series of 19th century renovations, including the alluring Courtyard of the Maidens.

Added to the Alcázar’s unique architecture, is its tile decorations.

2 | Intricate designs on the Tiles

The Royal Alcázar exhibits one of the best tile decorations in the world combining three traditions: Islam, Gothic Europe and Renaissance Italy. A distinctive melting pot of cultures is evident in the art of arista and majolica ceramics developed in the 16th century.

The arista style was developed in the early 16th century during the Renaissance period. An aesthetic of Andalusian architecture especially during the reigns of the Catholic monarchs (Ferdinand II and Isabella I) and the Emperor Charles V was one of colour! Bold, rich colours of green, yellow, and blue were brought together to form a design on either a single tile or four tiles. The body of the tile has different motifs, sizes and shapes with each segment having raised ridges. The tiles were placed on walls and decorated to form either vertical or horizontal panels.

A beautiful selection of the timeless pieces are exhibited as part of the Carranza Collection at the Real Alcázar in the House of Trade.


* Entering the Royal Palace of Seville

The palace complex is accessed through the historic 12th century gate, Puerta del León (The Lion’s Gate) located at Plaza del Triunfo.

3 | The Lion’s Gate | Puerta del León at the Royal Palace of Seville

Above the doors, there is a depiction of a lion with a crown, a cross in his claws bearing Gothic script across. A grand reminder that despite the influences of Islam represented by the Mudéjar style, it is a palace very much owned by Christians.

4 | Patio del León at Alcázar Seville

Once you are through the Lion’s Gate, a beautiful corridor welcomes you, Patio del León leading to an ancient arched wall structure. This was the garrison yard of the original Al-Mubarak palace. Just before the arches, on the left, is the Sala de la Justicia (Hall of Justice), and beyond this, is Patio del Yeso which was part of the 12th century Almohad palace.

Beyond this ancient arched wall, you shall enter into a large courtyard. This courtyard is known as Patio de la Montería or the Hunting Courtyard).


Begin with the Hall of Justice

5 | Hall of Justice, Alcázar Seville

The Hall of Justice was the first Moorish work in the Alcázar and was built in 1311 by Alfonso XI. The walls have stone benches, providing seating spaces, a feature that do not exist in any other room of the palace complex. There is a delightful fountain in the middle, and inviting sense of calmness in the room. The Hall of Justice connects to Patio del Yeso.

6 | Patio del Yeso at the Royal Palace of Seville

The Real Alcázar Seville

Patio del Yeso is a small courtyard which was part of the Almohad residence from the 12th century. It is believed to be the oldest part of the palace. Also, it was the residence of Pedro I before the Mudéjar Palace was built. The courtyard was rediscovered in late 19th century and restored between 1918-1920.

There is a sense of calmness here despite there being several people around.

7 | Patio de la Montería | The Hunting Courtyard

Below the slabs of the courtyard lies archaeological finds of the Almohad palaces from the 12th century.


* Casa de Contratacion | House of Trade

The House of Trade was established in 1503. The current front patio was added in the 17th century.

Casa de Contratacion was the centre from whence the Spanish Empire once ruled from early 16th century to 1717. This was the headquarters where ‘top secrets’ were stored, voyages were planned, crews assembled, contracts signed, navigational maps and charts drawn up. It was here that Christopher Columbus signed his famous contract to sail to the Indies with Queen Isabella I of Aragon in 1492.

8 | Staircase to the Upper Palace of the Alcázar Seville

Take the staircase that leads to the upper palace. It is an important part of the palace that was built in the 16th century during the reign of King Philip II. The decorative tiles that adorns the walls are copies of the originals, presently at “Madre de Dios” Convent, in Seville.

9 | Admirals’ Room at the House of Trade, Real Alcázar Seville

9.1 | Virgen de los Navigantes (Virgin of the Navigators) at the Royal Palace of Seville

At the northern end of the Admirals’ room, is the Chapterhouse (Sala de Audiencias), which was restored in 1967. The central altar piece is the celebrated Virgen de los Navigantes (Virgin of the Navigators) by Alejo Fernandez from around 1536. Sailors pray to her before embarking on their voyage. She is surrounded by four saints. Saint Sebastian and Saint James on the left; Saint Telmo and Saint John the Baptist on the right.

Also displayed in the Admirals’ Room is a model of “Santa Maria”, Columbus’ flagship. The Fan Room houses some rare fans made of ivory, feathers and pearls. As well, at home here is the Carranza Collection (mentioned above), a little museum dedicated to a collection of 171 priceless Moorish ceramics.


Next explore the resplendent Pedro’s Mudéjar Palace.

* Pedro’s Mudéjar Palace, Seville

The facade to Pedro’s Palace is the quintessence of Mudéjar architecture. Moorish features such as arches, columned windows and Arabic lettering sits harmoniously along Christian words and Kingdom of León coat of arms. The inscriptions declares in Spanish that the palace’s creator as “the highest, noblest and most powerful conqueror Don Pedro, by God’s grace King of Castilla and León” while in Arabic, it indicates “there is no conqueror but Allah”

Unusually, oriental styles are incorporated as well. There is the square roof and projecting portico with carvings in green, red and gold which gives a somewhat Asian feel. The fascinating combination of styles sets a tone to what to expect when you venture indoors — splendour, magnificence and a walk through various centuries.

10 | Courtyard of the Maidens | Patio de las Doncellas Real Alcázar, Seville

Courtyard of the Maidens is an enchanting rectangular patio with a sunken garden, an elegant long reflecting pool, painstakingly crafted marble columns and 24 elaborate arches with intricate designs, surrounded by lavish royal rooms. The delightful details on each arch and the carvings are akin to delicate lace. The layout is balanced and geometric in design, displaying harmony. Utterly spellbinding.

The Maidens’ Courtyard was built in the 13th century when Christians returned to rule Seville. The upper floors were added in the 16th century by King Charles/Carlos V. These were primarily of Renaissance design and some mudéjar decorations were incorporated also. It took some 32 years to complete, from 1540 through to 1572.

The sunken garden was discovered recently in 2005 by archaeologists and restored to its original 14th century form. It was paved over in 1570s after Pedro’s death.

“Courtyard of the Maidens” takes its name from rather a degraded old legend. Apparently, the Moors demanded 100 virgins every year from the Christian rulers!

Take your time to walk around.


11 | Royal Quarters around the patio

Around the rectangular patio are royal quarters. All rooms feature stunningly beautiful ceilings, tiles and stucco.

The Infant Room looks out to the Galley Garden, has wooden shutters with metal works that carries Arabic calligraphy. Charles V Ceiling Room was designed as a chapel, and has a Renaissance ceiling from 1543. The Royal Chamber has a winter room designed to receive sunlight and a much cooler summer room with a barrel-vault ceiling.

Across the Maidens’ Courtyard is the spectacular Ambassadors’ Hall.

Read: An Enticing Courtyard of the Maidens

12 | Hall of Ambassadors | Salón de los Embajadores at the Real Alcázar

The Hall of Ambassadors is a melting pot of Seville’s historic cultures and has its origins in the 11th century.

One can see the influences of both the Islam and Christian religions as well as their cultures. A squared room, symbolises the earth and the dome above, the night sky, the universe. Remarkable decorations forming a star joins the circle to the square, upholding the Mudéjar aesthetic delights. The arches have frieze work, along with motifs of castles and lions. The architect was inspired by the Hall of the Pleiades, built by the poet-king al-Mutamid, ruler of Seville in the 11th century.

The room was the centrepiece of the palace during the reign of King Pedro I. Known as the ‘Throne Room’, it was here that Pedro received his elite guests.

Pro tip: When visiting here, don’t forget to look up (pictured above) and use the angled mirror in the room to see the designs close-up.

The dome was added in 1427 and is distinctly regal, exuding a touch of dominance.

On the western side of the Ambassadors’ Hall sits the beautiful Peacock Arch (Arco de Pavones) named after the peacock, animal and floral motifs introduced to decorate this flamboyant room.

The Arch leads onto Felipe II Ceiling Room. The ceiling is Renaissance, known as “half round.” Decorated with geometric motifs from 1589 – 1591. Beyond this is the Prince’s Garden.

Read: The Hall of Ambassadors at Royal Alcazars of Seville

From the Ambassadors’ Hall, you will reach the Patio de las Muñecas.

13 | The Courtyard of Dolls | Patio de las Muñecas Alcázar Sevilla

The Courtyard of Dolls is much smaller than the Maidens Courtyard but is equally exquisite. The Courtyard gets its name from the doll faces that adorns the arches.

If you find a doll’s face on the arches, you are lucky as it is said to bring good fortune when found.

Each of the columns are unique, and originate from Italica, an ancient Roman settlement outside of Seville. The tops of each column bears inscriptions from the Quran, and comes from Medina Azahara, a Moorish palace abandoned by the Caliphs outside the city of Cordoba.

This small courtyard was designed to accommodate the palace’s private quarters, for the use of the king and his family. It opens to 3 bedrooms and the Prince’s Garden.

The Dolls Courtyard had undergone extensive renovations over the years. The top two floors are 19th century additions with plaster work brought in from Alhambra. The rooms were also completely refurbished. It has an awesome glass ceiling that lights up the room!

13.1 | The Catholic Monarchs’ Room | Salon de los Reyes Católicos

Also known as the Moorish Kings’ Bedroom, the Catholic Monarchs’ room has a beautiful wooded ceiling, decorated with ribbons and heraldic symbols.

13.2 | Prince’s Suite

The Prince’s Suite has one of the finest Renaissance styled ceilings, an elaborate gold ceiling creating a starlight night sky effect. Along with exquisite scalloped plaster arches, Arabic quotes and lattice tiles. The room was initially used as the Queen’s bedroom until the Catholic queen, Isabella I built the upper floors. Her son, Prince Juan de Aragon was born here, but sadly died at just 19 days. Hence the name of the room.

* The Gothic Palace at the Real Alcázar of Seville

The Gothic Palace can be reached via the porticoed gallery crossing connected to the Patio de la Monteria (the Hunting Courtyard) or via a narrow staircase located on the southeastern side of the Maidens’ Courtyard.

This section of the Real Alcázar is very different to the rest of the palace and does not encompass Mudéjar artwork. It underwent much remodeling in the 13th century by Alfonso X, over the remains of the old Almohad palace, turning it into a beautiful Gothic palace.

The echoing halls were designed for King Carlos V and were added in the 16th century. The stone baroque entrance was added in the 18th century. There are a series of rooms such as the tapestry room, garden room, party room and a Chapel. The most striking of them all is the Hall of Tapestries.

The remains of a child who lived 700 years ago was found in a coffin under the floors of the altar in the Chapel at the Gothic Palace early 2021.

Learn more about the rich Gothic Palace and the archaeological discovery >>

14 | Tapestry Room

tapestry room alcazar seville

In the Hall of Tapestries, there are a series of twelve large tapestries representing the invasion of Tunisia by Carlos V in 1535. It carries extraordinary details of ships carrying sailors, ranks of soldiers, emitting flumes of smoke from cannons. These tapestries are said to be one of the best in the world today.

The original vaulted ceiling in this room was damaged in the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. It was later replaced by a baroque design.

Beyond the Hall of Tapestries, is the Courtyard of the Cruise.

15 | Courtyard of the Cruise | Patio del Crucero

The charming Courtyard of the Cruise owes its name to its cross-shape and is considered one of the the most important part of the Almohad palace from the 12th century. It’s initial design consisted only of raised walkways along its four sides and two crossed walkways that met in the middle. At the bottom, there was a central swimming pool surrounded by underground gardens. All kinds of fruits and aromatic trees is said to have grown here. The fruits were basically at one’s fingertips and could be plucked from the platforms.

The lower level medieval garden was buried in the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. The present lower level of the patio, along with the corridor leading to the Hunting Courtyard as well as the facade to the Gothic Palace were built in the 18th century in the Baroque style.

Below the raised walkways are vaults that leads to the picturesque secret Baths of Doña Maria de Padilla, mistress to Pedro I.

Beyond the Patio del Crucero, you are met with endless, fragrant, serene oasis of the Alcázar Gardens.

* The Real Alcázar of Seville Gardens

The Gardens at The Real Alcázar of Seville are extensive, unique and reflect the passing of history. Home to at least 20,000 plants, and over 180 plant species to be found in this 60,000 metres square of gardens are some of Europe’s oldest, from Moorish times. The English Garden, the Poets’ Garden and Garden of the Marquis de la Vega Inclán are from the modern 19th century era.

Water plays an important role in the concept of the Alcazar gardens which are the epitome of Moorish garden design. The gentle trickle, gurgle sounds of the fountains and ponds invites you to slowdown and to appreciate the moments in the pleasurable greenery of orderly hedgerows, towering palm trees and oranges.

Linger among the palm trees, cypresses, myrtle, mulberries, magnolia, pomegranate, orange and lemon trees. The scent of oranges were noticeable even in late November when I visited. I can only imagine the scent of marmalade in spring when the orange trees drop their fruits and the ground is covered in them.

There are small courtyards with glittering pools, fountains, ponds, arches and pavilions wherever I turned! The Ladies Garden has an elegant fountain with a statue of Neptune which was totally mesmerising. Secluded shady corners with dainty colourful tiled benches to steal moments and be lost in my faerie world.

I assure you, you will be delightfully lost in this lush and exotic labyrinth of a paradise, soaking into the moments in quiet contentment. To thoroughly enjoy the gardens, give yourself at least 3 hours.

Here are some of the unmissable highlights of the Gardens at The Real Alcázar of Seville.

Begin your garden walk with Mercury’s Pool (Garden of the Pond).

16 | Mercury’s Pool | Garden of the Pond

The Mercury’s Pool is a large pool with a fountain filled with fish. Formerly it was a cistern supplying water to the palace brought from Carmona, a town on the outskirts of Seville. In the centre of the pond is a bronze statue of the Greek god, Mercury, sculpted in 1576. The pond is surrounded by railings and spikes.

On the east side of the Mercury’s Pool, is Galleria de Grutesco.

Recommended read: Mercury’s Pool at the Royal Palace in Seville

Originating from the Almohad era, the wall of Gallery of the Grotesque was lavishly reimagined in the late 16th and early 17th century to as far as the 19th century, giving it the appearance it currently has. The Gallery was constructed using different stones, plastering and painting in between of classic mythological scenes, giving the wall a cave-like look. Known as the Italian Grotto, this wall has an upper gallery of 160 metres that can be accessed via narrow steps, offering incredible vista over the gardens. It was lovely to walk along the corridor, in the shade with the occasional cool breeze.

While here, you may hear tiny little notes of music coming from somewhere … follow it and you will be rewarded with a little treasure at the Fountain of Fame.

18 | Fuente de la Fama Water Organ | The Fountain of Fame at Real Alcázar of Seville

The Fountain of Fame is really something special. It’s a water organ or fountain organ and plays music every hour. The music is generated by the flow of water through its various pipes.

Water organs have been around a long time, since the 3rd century in Alexandria. This one at The Real Alcázar of Seville was built in the 17th century and is the only one of four in the world and the only one in Spain.

19 | Dance Garden at Alcázar of Seville

Next to Mercury’s Pool, on the west, via some stairs down, is the Garden of Dance, curated in the 1570s. The graceful little metal staircase dates from 1610. In the centre, there is a low fountain from the 16th century. The botanical elements constitute magnolias, acanthus, pitchardias, as well as Canary Island palms, trumpeters, spireas, celestinas and wire vines.

From here, you can access the secret Baths of Doña Maria de Padilla.

20 | Baths of Doña Maria de Padilla at The Real Alcázar of Seville

One of the most picturesque, sensational and an obligatory stop is the Baths of Doña Maria de Padilla when visiting the historic Real Alcázar of Seville. The fresh air, infinite arches, reflections on the water and the subject of many legends makes this mysterious underground bath an unmissable spot at the Alcázar.

Built around the 12th century to a medieval Almohad structure, the vaults were used to store rainwater and food. During Pedro’s rule, these were turned to underground bath and used by Doña Maria de Padilla, his mistress. The temperature inside is about 15°C lower than the outside. Sunlight seeps through the sides, and the reflections of the arches on its clear water makes this a surreal scene.

Recommended read: Baths of Doña Maria de Padilla at The Real Alcázar of Seville

21 | Carlos V Pavilion | Charles V Pavilion at the Royal Palace in Seville

The square tiled pavilion in the lush gardens of the Alcázar was formerly a qubba (an oratory) and was known as Jardin de la Alcoba. It was converted between 1543 and 1546, in Mudéjar style. The Spanish Emperor, Charles V had his dinners here in the summer months. Home to splendid tapestries and is said to be the oldest building in the gardens. Its walls, as well as its benches are covered in 16th century tiles. The exterior is surrounded by four semicircular arches supported on marble columns.

Take a breather and sit on one of its beautiful benches for a moment or two. Soak in the nature and sanctuary this garden of eden bestows. You can’t go into the Carlos V Pavilion at the moment.

Nearby the Pavilion, there is an orange tree, said to be planted by Pedro I which makes it over 600 years old! Orange trees were favourite of the Arabs and were used for ornamental purposes. The fruits are sour and not for consumption. Don’t eat them.

Carlos V Pavilion was another location used for Game of Thrones .

22 | Garden Cafe

The Garden Cafe at the The Real Alcázar of Seville is hidden in the corner of the English Garden, obscured by trees and plants. Not a great selection of snacks but it is a nice place for a quick coffee and to watch a peacock or two strut their stuff.


There is so much more to the gardens at the Alcázar that I decided to dedicate an entire post on it which will be published soon. Stay tuned. Ensure you are Subscribed! Read > Gardens of the Royal Alcázar in Seville


Finally …

As autumn leads into winter, colour does not fade from the scene in the Real Alcázar gardens. The sky remains blue, the famed tiles glisten in the sun and brighten many a corner but the colour orange seems to prevail. Orange doors, orange steps, orange walls, orange gateways and oranges on the ground. There are orange structures peeking in-between the greens of the lush gardens, The view, from the corridors of the Grotto Gallery portray a surreal panorama.

So, when you are at the Real Alcázar of Seville, leave your hurries behind. Immerse in the surroundings, take photos for the Gram, daydream. Let your gaze linger on the palm trees, cypresses, orange trees, oaks … Do a perfect walk of the palace and the gardens — the paths once walked by the Spanish Kings themselves.

this is just me, found my happy corner … enjoyed my visit very much xoxo

Spain Travel Advice

Seville Spain 37.3891° N, 5.9845° W
Seville Spain
37.3891° N, 5.9845° W

Essential Information on the Real Alcázar of Seville :

UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Seville Cathedral, & General Archive of the Indies.

Where: Plaza del Triunfo

Nearest Metro station is Puerta de Jerez.

Phone: 954 50 23 24

http://www.alcazarsevilla.org/

Hours: Apr-Sept: 9:30 am to 7 pm | Oct-Mar: 9:30 am to 5 pm


Essential Information you need to know before your visit:

Visitor capacity

The Palace has a maximum capacity of 750 visitors. When it is full, it is full! Waiting times can be extremely long during peak times. Avoid the queues, save time and book ahead your skip-the-line tickets.

TICKET OPTIONS 2022:

General ticket to the Ground Floor: €13.50

Admission to the ground floor for EU citizens seniors over 65 years old, students from 14 to 30, or holders of European Youth Card: €6.00 (valid identification required)

Free Admission:

Disabled persons, children younger than 13, and residents of Seville (identification required);

Monday from 6 pm to 7 pm (April to September) and from 4 pm to 5 pm (October to March)

SKIP-THE-LINE TICKETS:

Seville Alcazar Priority Entrance + Guided Tour

Guided Tour of Seville Alcazar, Cathedral & Giralda

Skip the Line Ticket to the Real Alcázar of Seville

More ticket options >>


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For the latest on Travel Guidelines, please go to the following Official portals:

Travel abroad from England Advise

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The Royal Alcazar of Seville | timelesstravelsteps.comThe Royal Alcazar of Seville | timelesstravelsteps.com

Best Tip for Priority Visit to Royal Alcazar Seville

Priority Visit to Royal Alcazar, Seville

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The Royal Alcazar Complex and Gardens are a top visitor attraction in Andalusia and indeed Spain. As such, long queues are expected at any given time, even during the off season. In addition, the Alcazar has a visitor limitation daily and if this is met, you will not gain access regardless of how long you’ve been in the queue.

To make a pleasant visit, a little prior planning may be necessary. The best tip to see the Royal Alcazar palace complex and its gardens at ease is with pre-booking online a Priority Visit to Royal Alcazar, purchasing a skip-the-line ticket or joining a guided tour.

What to Expect from the Priority Visit to Royal Alcazar event

1 | Choose from a small-group or private guided experience;

2 | Find out the history of Islamic and Mudéjar architecture in the Alcázar;

3 | Stroll through the beautiful gardens and try the labyrinth maze;

4 | See where scenes from Season 5 of Game of Thrones were shot;


5 | Tour duration is 1.5 hours;

6 | Mobile ticketing;

7 | Skip the line through a separate entrance;

8 | Wheelchair accessible.


On the day of your tour:

Meeting point is at the Plaza del Triunfo, where the primary entrance to the Royal Alcazar is located. After using the Priority Visit to Real Alcazar ticket, you shall enter the palace. Tour begins at the Patio del León ( The Lion Courtyard), the prelude to Monteria Courtyard. You shall see an ancient wall of triple arch which dates to the 12th century, during the Almohad reign.

Read the Complete Guide to the Royal Alcazar of Seville, Spain.

Once within the Alcazar complex, visitors are allowed to stay within the complex until closing time, so long as visitors do not exit. Re-admission is not available.

Your knowledgeable guide will share information on how the Moorish and Christian styles were blended after the Reconquista to create a palace that was emblematic of Mudéjar architecture. You will visit examples of newer post-Reconquista architecture, such as the Casa de la Contratación, a place where sea voyages were planned and secrets kept during the time of Christopher Columbus, before heading to the Palacio del Don Rey Pedro, the core of the Royal Alcazar, a perfect example of Mudéjar architecture.

Your guide will ensure that you learn all there is to know about the palace’s rich history and its architecture.

At Pedro’s Palace, discover the Patio de las Doncellas (Patio of the Maidens) and grand Ambassadors’ Salón as featured in Game of Thrones. Both incorporate intricate carved detailing and colorful Islamic-style tiling.

The tour will then move on to the Gothic Palace with its royal tapestries and ornate tiling.

Priority Visit to Royal Alcazar complex & the Gardens

Your guide will take you to the gardens of the Royal Alcazar where the tour ends. Stroll around orange-tree-filled gardens at your own leisure after the tour. Take in the peacocks that live there, the smell of orange blossom, and the numerous tranquil water features.

The grounds of the Alcazar are extensive and absolutely beautiful. These were orchards during Moorish times providing providing fruits and herbs to the royal court. The magnificent gardens are geometrically laid out, with gentle running waters for a soothing atmosphere. As you stroll around the Royal Alcazar gardens, ensure you do not miss the following:

1 | The Mercury Pond;

2 | Grotto Gallery;

3 | The Fountain of Fame;

4 | Dance Garden;

5 | Baths of Doña Maria de Padilla;

6 | English Garden;

7 | Galley Garden;

8 | Prince’s Garden;

9 | Carlos V Pavilion and the 600 year old orange tree;

10 | Stop at the Garden Cafe and watch the lovely peacocks strut.

Enjoy the gardens to your hearts content.

Circle back to the Royal Alcazar complex grounds, if you need to.

Recommended read: The Real Alcázar of Seville | Best 22 Highlights


The Priority Visit to Royal Alcazar includes:

Priority entrance ticket;

English, French or Spanish-speaking guide (please select when booking);

Audio guide reinforcement (if needed but please also confirm when booking);

What Royal Alcazar Priority does not include:

Entrance to the Royal Chambers


Visiting the Royal Apartments at the Royal Alcazar, Seville

The priority visit to Royal Alcazar guided tour does not include the Royal Apartments. A separate ticket is required to view the fifteen rooms or so of the Royal Apartments at the Royal Alcazar. There is a very strict time-slot reservation and it is viewed via an audio guide.

When you book the Royal Apartments tour (Cuarto Real Alto) online, the time printed on the ticket is the time you need to be at the entrance door on the second floor. Late visitors will not be able to join the group or join another group.

Furnishings are mostly 19th century.


Safety measures in place:

All areas that customers touch are frequently cleaned;

You are required to bring and wear a mask.


Check availability with your preferred tour operator:

Tickets for Priority Visit to Royal Alcazar, Seville

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From: £29.37 per person (Jan. 2022): Check availability with your preferred tour operator:



Spain Travel Advice

Seville Spain 37.3891° N, 5.9845° W
Seville Spain
37.3891° N, 5.9845° W

Essential Information on the Real Alcázar of Seville :

UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Seville Cathedral, & General Archive of the Indies.

Where: Plaza del Triunfo

Nearest Metro station is Puerta de Jerez.

Phone: 954 50 23 24

http://www.alcazarsevilla.org/

Hours: Apr-Sept: 9:30 am to 7 pm | Oct-Mar: 9:30 am to 5 pm


Essential Information you need to know before your visit:

Visitor capacity

The Palace has a maximum capacity of 750 visitors. When it is full, it is full! Waiting times can be extremely long during peak times. Avoid the queues, save time and book ahead your skip-the-line tickets.

Skip-the-Line Tickets:

Seville Alcazar Priority Entrance + Guided Tour

Guided Tour of Seville Alcazar, Cathedral & Giralda

Skip the Line Ticket to the Real Alcázar of Seville

More ticket options >>


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Stonehenge A Sophisticated Architecture that should not be missed

Stonehenge-A Sophisticated Architecture that should not be missed

Stonehenge a sophisticated architecture and one of the wonders of the world is right at our doorstep! This pre-historic monument has wowed many and continues to intrigue all visitors here. Not only is Stonehenge a sophisticated architecture, it is definitely, an engineering masterpiece given that it was built with simple tools and technologies during the Neolithic times. It is another of those structures in the world that make visitors and scientists wonder to the theories behind its construction – Why it was constructed and by whom, to the extend that it could have been an alien creation or the much popularised legend of King Arthur by historian, Geoffrey of Monmouth. Anyways, here’s Stonehenge for you in a nutshell – pay us a visit – mystical or magical – you decide.

1 | Stonehenge A sophisticated architecture

The monument known as Stonehenge, was erected with precise interlocking joints, unseen at any other prehistoric monument. According to its history, it was built in several stages, with the first monument being constructed around 5,000 years ago.

Stonehenge - The Stone Circle
Stonehenge – The Stone Circle | Image: georgina_daniel

2 | Stonehenge a sophisticated architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage Site

This unique prehistoric masterpiece sits on a rich archaeological landscape and the area, Avebury and Stonehenge form a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stonehenge is the most architecturally sophisticated and an unique place to visit.

3 | Where is Stonehenge exactly?

Stonehenge is located on Salisbury Plain, about 8 miles (13 km) north of Salisbury, Wiltshire, England. Its coordinates are:

Latitude: 51° 10′ 26.30″ N Longitude: -1° 49′ 20.56″ W

If you haven’t been to Stonehenge, click on the link to Google Earth and get a first hand, up close and personal experience of this mysterious wonderment. Watch the awesomeness of this majestic structure that has puzzled many historians and remains a mystery! It will sure to blow you away too!

Stonehenge on Google Earth

4 | The Stone Circle at Stonehenge a sophisticated architecture

The Stone Circle at Stonehenge is an iconic symbol of Britain with each stone standing at 13 feet high, 7 feet wide and weighing around 25 tons. It is believed to have been constructed between 3000 BC and 2000 BC. This sophisticated architecture is the only surviving lintelled stone circle in the world.

Stonehenge - A closer look at the Stone Circle, an architectural masterpiece.
Stonehenge – A closer look at the Stone Circle, an architectural masterpiece.| Image: georgina_daniel

I was instantly wowed at the gigantic stones and intrigued at how cleverly it was “constructed”. I did feel a little “tiny” in the midst of all these and the vastness of the area. There is certainly a lot to discover here.

As mentioned earlier, this iconic sophisticated architecture throws more questions than answers as to the “Why’s” and “Who” – here’s what I found out but be rest assured that there are a lot more theories and opinions out there.

5 | The theories behind Stonehenge a sophisticated architecture

One of the most comprehensive hypothesis of Stonehenge’s sophisticated architecture and its origin along with its purpose can be found in Stonehenge Decoded by Gerald Hawkins.

5.1 | Stonehenge Decoded

According to Hawkins, the cluster of stones were constructed in phases between 3100 BC through 1600 BC and its purpose was to relate to an ancient astronomical observatory calendar, to predict movements of the sun and stars. His hypothesis identified 165 separate points on the construction, and he links them to the two solstices, equinoxes, lunar and solar eclipses. The stones are aligned in such a way that at dawn on the summer solstice the sun glides from behind the Heel Stone to above the stones and shine onto the centre of the circle – the sun and stones all aligning perfectly. Similarly, at the winter solstice on December 21, one can experience much the same at sunset. It would seem that Stonehenge was created to showcase the summer solstice.

Sunrise at Stonehenge
Revellers watch the sunrise as they celebrate the pagan festival of Summer Solstice at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, southern England on June 21, 2018.GEOFF CADDICK/AFP/Getty Images

In this book, Hawkins decodes the mystery behind Stonehenge and illustrates his findings that gave rise to controversy on both sides of the Atlantic.

Stonehenge Decoded

Gerald S. Hawkins, 1965 (Hardcover)

However, Hawkins’ theory had been criticised by historians for it gave too much credit to ancient builders who did not have the sophistication or the tools necessary to predict astrological events. Despite its criticisms, Hawkins theory does lend more legitimacy than the 12th century legend associated with King Arthur by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his History of Kings of Britain

5.2 | History of Kings of Britain

According to Geoffrey, the massacre called the Night of the Long Knives in 449 A.D. occurred at a monastery on the Salisbury Plain. To honour the dead soldiers, the then King, Ambrosius Aurelianus consulted the wizard, Merlin to help him select an appropriate monument. The wizard suggested that the King’s Ring from Mount Killarus in Ireland be dismantled and brought to England. An expedition of soldiers were sent to bring the stones to Stonehenge where Merlin reconstructs with his magical powers, a monument on the Salisbury Plain honouring the dead in the monastery cemetery.

5.3 | A modern twist

A modern twist to this tale seems that it was aliens rather than Merlin who constructed the ingenious architecture. Some of these rocks weigh 50 tons and cannot be explained how ordinary humans could have moved such masses., hence aliens. In addition, Alfred Watkin in the 1920s suggested his theory of “ley lines” in his book “The Old Straight Track“, published in 1925. He suggested that Stonehenge connected with other sites which once served as landmarks or ancient sites in a given alignment between, and across the dense island but since vanished. Other theories surrounding this ancient monument relate to it being a healing ground because archaeologists have discovered skeletons with crude wounds, an indication of rudimentary surgery.

5.4 | Recent Discovery at Stonehenge

In recent years, archaeologists have discovered skeletal remains at Stonehenge which dated to a 500-year period beginning in 3000 B.C.. The discovery suggests that the remains belong to a select group of elite ancient people, hence providing the most solid evidence yet that the site was used as a burial ground. However, this does not preclude Stonehenge as an astrological calendar or as a religious site.

5.5 | The mystery continues…

So, a conclusive answer to the “Who” and “How” are yet to be found and the mystery of Stonehenge continues to puzzle archaeologists, historians and ordinary people alike. One thing for sure, that it will continue to attract thousands especially on another equinox when the sun rises and sets, for one to experience the magical or mystical vibes in this mysterious part of Salisbury, Wiltshire.

View post by National Geographic on 7 Ancient Sites Some People Think Were Built by Aliens

6 | Popularity of Stonehenge

Stonehenge is one of the popular destinations in UK for tourists with almost 1.5 million visitors a year. It is also a popular destination for the thousands who are drawn here during the summer and winter solstices, for whom it symbolises a sacred place. It invokes a great sense of awe and humility. Stonehenge is especially significant for members of the Druid and Pagan community, who perform rituals and celebrations at the summer and winter solstices.

6.1 | Summer and Winter Solstices

Solstices have been celebrated here for centuries. People gather here to welcome the sunrise on the longest day of the year with cheering and revelling. On the summer solstice, the sun rises behind the Heel Stone, the ancient entrance to the stone circle, and sunlight is channelled into the centre of the monument. It is also a day when the English Heritage opens-up the stones to the public.

Revellers at Stonehenge watching the sunrise on summer solstice
Revellers watch the sunrise as they celebrate the pagan festival of Summer Solstice at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, southern England on June 21, 2018. GEOFF CADDICK/AFP/Getty Images
Spiritual revellers celebrate the summer Solstice (mid-summer and longest day) at the ancient stones of Stonehenge, on 21st June 2017, in Wiltshire, England. (Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images)
Revellers at the summer solstices
Revelers gather for summer solstice celebrations on June 21, 2016, at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England.
 Julio Etchart—Getty Images/Robert Harding Worl

Whatever the true story of this monument, anyone and everyone can enjoy the spectacular sunrise behind these stones at the solstices.

Mystical, Magical – You decide…

When I visited Stonehenge in late summer, it was after a rain and before a storm. I witnessed these mystic clouds, which appeared above one of the Stone Circle, giving it a sense of solitude and magic. I thought the clouds were rather unusual.

It was after a rain and before a storm when I witnessed these mystic clouds, which appeared above the Stone Circle wonders of the world, giving it a sense of solitude and magic.
It was after a rain and before a storm when I witnessed these mystic clouds, which appeared above the Stone Circle wonders of the world, giving it a sense of solitude and magic | Image: georgina_daniel

Just so you know, there are a few recorded experiences where one was overcome with feelings of sadness and loss, while some have felt coldness and isolation. Though none of these can be explained and I did not experience any of these feelings, I was totally amazed at the uniqueness of the structure. I would highly recommend that you visit this sophisticated architecture – a bucket list experience for sure.

There is an Asian proverb that says,

“Better to see something once, then to hear about it a thousand times.”

So, if you haven’t been here, get it onto your itinerary and experience this iconic ancient achievement. Return and share your stories 😊

Travel tips and Practical information on Stonehenge

Travelling to Stonehenge during Covid-19: Safety measures

Update from English Heritage: Mar 2020

  1. For safety reasons, visitor numbers are limited;
  2. Visits MUST be booked in advance. You must have a booking confirmation to show for the chosen arrival time;
  3. Bring a face covering along – you can’t enter the cafe or the shop without face coverings;
  4. Safety and social distancing measures are in place for everyone’s safety;

Opening and Closing times + Tickets

Opening and Closing times:

Summer: 0900 – 2000

Winter: 0930 – 1700

Last entry is 2 hours before closing

Tickets:

Entrance to Stonehenge is through timed tickets. Advance booking is the only way to guarantee entry on the day and time of your choice. So, you Must book these tickets in advance.

By booking in advance you will also benefit from an advanced booking discount.

Entrance ticket to Stonehenge

Become a Member of English Heritage

English Heritage is guardian to some of the nation’s most treasured and iconic buildings and monuments, including Stonehenge, Tintagel Castle, Osborne, Hadrian’s Wall and Dover Castle. They ensure that our heritage is protected for future generations.

From one fee for a whole year, English Heritage members enjoy the following benefits:

  • Unlimited access to over 400 historic properties across the country;
  • A whole year’s worth of fun days out;
  • Free entry for up to six accompanying children per adult member;
  • Free or reduced-price entry to exclusive members’ events giving you access to our experts and a glimpse behind the scenes;
  • Exclusive Members’ Magazine four times a year with in-depth features about our properties and wider work, which also includes a nationwide events guide;
  • free handbook to help plan your next exciting day out;
  • Special offers, discounts and competitions for a great variety of products and experiences; and
  • An English Heritage car sticker.

English Heritage and National Trust members are also required that they book in advance for their FREE visit.

Become a Member of National Heritage today and enjoy all the membership benefits for a whole year!


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Get onboard and enjoy a Ride on the Royal Windsor Steam Express


How to travel to Stonehenge

Visiting Stonehenge from London | London to Stonehenge | Easy ways to get to Stonehenge from London

When visiting London, you may find Stonehenge makes a nice little day trip from London. You have a choice of either making your way to Salisbury by train or coach OR join one the value for money guided tours. There are a variety of guided tours to select from, from half-a-day to full day tours. There is a half a day tour to Stonehenge only and the full day tours are often combined with a tour to the Historic City of Bath and Windsor Castle. Personally, I prefer the full day tour that combines Stonehenge with Bath and the West Country.

Should you wish to make your way to Stonehenge directly, the following are ways for you to do so.

How to visit Stonehenge from London

1 | From London to Stonehenge by Train

The nearest train station to Stonehenge is Salisbury and the distance from Salisbury to Stonehenge is less than 15 kilometres (9 miles). To get to Stonehenge from London by train will involve two legs of journeys:

Leg 1: From London to Salisbury

Take the train from London Waterloo Station to Salisbury Station on the South Western Railway. There are trains every 30-40 minutes from 6:30 am to 23:40 pm with a slightly altered timetable at weekends. The journey from London to Stonehenge takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes. The price of your train ticket only applies to this part of your journey.

Buy your Train tickets to Salisbury. Book and buy in advance for best price.

Note: There are Additional costs involved for transportation between Salisbury and Stonehenge

Leg 2: From Salisbury to Stonehenge

Upon arriving at Salisbury, there are taxis, private car hire, bus services serving the route to and from Stonehenge as well as the Stonehenge Bus Tour offering a hop on hop off service. Stonehenge Bus Tour operates every 30 minutes or so.

2 | From London to Stonehenge by Coach

If you wish to visit Stonehenge by coach, you need to make your way from Salisbury to Stonehenge as described above.

As for a coach/bus from London to Salisbury, here’s how you can make that journey:

Take the National Express from Victoria coach station to Ringwood. This service runs from 6.30 am to 7.30 pm. There are around 4 coaches running throughout the day, every 3-4 hours.

When you reach Ringwood, you will then need to change at Ringwood and take the X3 to Salisbury. From Salisbury, your onward journey to Stonehenge will be via local buses, taxis, private car hire or the hop on hop off Salisbury Tour Bus.

For return journey to London, the first coach leaves Ringwood at 6.45 am and the last coach leaves at 6.40 pm. There are around 4-5 coaches throughout the day.

The X3 from Ringwood towards Salisbury and return is operated by the Salisbury Reds. This journey takes around 40 minutes. The service runs from 5.57 am to 11.32 pm Monday to Saturday and from 8.43 am until 8.43 pm on Sundays and public holidays. The X3 runs from Salisbury to Ringwood from 6.40 am to 9.45 pm Monday to Saturday and from 9.40 am until 9.40 pm on Sundays and public holidays.


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On a final note…

Whether this monument is mystical or magical, being present among this incredible, ingenious architecture will have you in awe and wonder! It is an experience that I strongly recommend.


Is this post valuable to you in planning your visit to Stonehenge? If so please let me know in comments below or via Contact Form, I would love to hear from you. Scroll all the way down for more ideas and inspiring travel stories. Subscribe to join us at Timeless Travel Steps to receive all the latest news and events. As always, I am contactable for any further info or to design your itinerary for you.

Happy adventures and have a splendid time exploring Stonehenge!

Georgina xx

March 2021, Update

Updated Mar 2021


English Heritage

Visiting Stonehenge during Covid-19: Safety Measures

  1. Visitor numbers are limited;
  2. Visits must be booked online prior to visiting this monument;
  3. Bring a face covering along.

Become a Member of English Heritage and enjoy unlimited visits to Stonehenge and other English Heritage properties:


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Ultimate 1 day guide to the best of Himeji, Japan

Ultimate 1 day guide to the best of Himeji, Japan

Himeji is a City in the Kansai region of Japan, in the Hyogo Prefecture. It is easily accessible from Kyoto or Osaka (see below) and makes a brilliant day trip. My ultimate 1-day guide to the best of Himeji, Japan covers castles, gardens and temples – just three places which should be in any visit list to this region.

You can find Himeji using the following GPS coordinates.

Himeji

34° 50′ 13.19″ N
134° 41′ 22.79″ E

Himeji Castle - a white castle on top of a hill. It is said to appear like a bird taking flight! Ultimate 1 day guide to the best of Himeji, Japan
Himeji Castle – it is said to appear like a bird taking flight!

What to see and do | Ultimate 1 day guide to the best of Himeji, Japan i

The are three places which you should not miss when visiting Himeji. These are:

  • The popular Himeji Castle;
  • The traditional Edo-style garden called Koko-en;
  • The Engyoji Temple at Mount Shosha;

All within easy reach of each other.

1 | Himeji Castle | Ultimate 1 day guide to the best of Himeji, Japan

Himeji Castle is a hilltop landmark, a 17th century castle. Often called Hakuro-jo or Shirasagi-jo which means “White Egret Castle” because of its white façade and its appearance as a bird taking flight.

Himeji Castle - a white castle on top of a hill. It is said to appear like a bird taking flight!Ultimate 1 day guide to the best of Himeji, Japan
Himeji Castle – it is said to appear like a bird taking flight! | Photo: georgina_daniel

Himeji Castle was one of my highlights in Japan and I hope you will find the following to be as fascinating as it was for me that made my visit very special.

1.1 | Himeji Castle is UNESCO World Heritage Site

Himeji Castle was constructed on an existing fort in 1601 under the order of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Tokugawa Shogunate ruled Japan from 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Ieyasu ruled Japan with a mission to unify  the country. He built one castle in each province and good defences to stave off attacks.

This white castle has not seen a battle since it was built and had stood strong throughout the years, despite the bombings during the World Wars and earthquakes in Japan. The Castle is a National Treasure of Japan and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993. It is one the few original castles from Japan’s feudal period that has moats, passageways and cherry trees.

Himeji Castle has beautiful landscaped gardens and moats that surrounds the Castle. Great photo opportunity here!Ultimate 1 day guide to the best of Himeji, Japan
Himeji Castle has beautiful landscaped gardens and moats that surrounds the Castle. Great photo opportunity here! | Photo: georgina_daniel

The Castle is visible even as you begin your walk from Himeji Station. As you approach the Castle, there are various beautiful spots that make great photo opportunities. When you arrive, enter through the Otemon Gate, purchase your tickets and walk through the passageway to the Main Keep.

Entrance to Himeji Castle Ultimate 1 day guide to the best of Himeji, Japan
Entrance to Himeji Castle is over the bridge and through the Otemon Gate | Photo: georgina_daniel
Winding walled passageways takes you to the main entrance of Himeji Castle.Ultimate 1 day guide to the best of Himeji, Japan
Winding walled passageways takes you to the main entrance of Himeji Castle | Photo: georgina_daniel

1.2 | The Main Keep and Interior of Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle has six floors and the Main Keep of the top floor offers spectacular views of the castle grounds and across the city itself, surrounded by beautiful mountains in the distance.

Spectacular views from the top floor of the Keep of the Castle grounds, view of the City and the mountains beyond.Ultimate 1 day guide to the best of Himeji, Japan
Spectacular view from the top floor of the Keep of the Castle grounds, view of the City and the mountains beyond | Photo: georgina_daniel

The Main Keep is the largest structure of the Castle and there are six floors. The staircases are steep, and it gets steeper and narrower as you climb higher. The climb to the top floor is one long queue, so take your time and try and capture the views of the castle grounds.  Also, take note of the loopholes used by the archers to defend the Castle during attacks.

1.3 | Gardens surrounding Himeji Castle

When you have completed the Main Keep, make time to explore the gardens surrounding the Castle. This vast ground offers great photo opportunities. I visited Himeji Castle towards the end of the cherry blossom season and was fortunate to capture the beauty the season brings to Japan. The sight of cherry trees planted in a long line with pink and white petals against the blue sky is simply awesome! There is an area of cherry blossom trees which serves both as a picnic and resting area offering shade.

Cherry trees in a line surrounds Himeji Castle. Cherry blossom season in Japan
Cherry trees in a line surrounds Himeji Castle | Photo: georgina_daniel
Peaceful and serene - gardens within Himeji Castle grounds.Ultimate 1 day guide to the best of Himeji, Japan
Peaceful and serene – gardens within Himeji Castle grounds | Photo: georgina_daniel

1.4 | Meeting with talented artist at Himeji Castle

During my visit, I was fortunate to meet an incredibly talented gentleman called, Pierre, who is an artist/sketcher. His passion is to sketch every temple, every castle in Japan and China. He had been doing this for five years already. His book of sketches was beautiful, he captured every detail of the architecture and its history seamlessly.

Pierre's sketchbook Himeji Castle. Ultimate 1 day guide to the best of Himeji, Japan
Himeji Castle | Pierre’s Sketch Book – Isn’t this awesome! | Photo: georgina_daniel

Pierre did inform me that he lives in Paris. Unfortunately, Pierre does not have a website or a blogsite where he showcases his work and I want to mention him here, in this blog because his work and his passion should be merited (I do have his consent to mention him in my blog). I hope that one day, Pierre will find himself reading this blog! 😊

1.5 | Travel tips and Useful information on Himeji Castle, Himeji

Useful information:

  • Give yourself anything between 2 to 4 hours;
  • Entrance fee: 1000 Yen
  • Hours: Generally, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Summer (Apr 27 to Aug 31) 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

            Last entry is an hour before closing. As well, the Main Keep is not wheelchair accessible.

1.6 | Getting to Himeji Castle from Himeji Station

Take the North exit at Himeji Station. It is about 1km. It is not far at all when you walk along the Otemae-dori Street, the shops are a good distraction and the sight of the Castle is straight ahead of you.

After visiting Himeji Castle, you may wish to take a break or have a picnic under the cherry blossom tree before making your way to Koko-en Garden.

2 | Koko-en Garden

Koko-en Garden is 3.5 hectares, of traditional Edo-style garden just next to Himeji Castle. It is laid out in nine-themed sections, with water features, pagodas and step-stones projecting tranquillity. You can take as long as you like here and can take up to 2 hours  or more by the time you walk around all nine gardens. It took me almost 3 hours.

Koko-en at Himeji - There are nine gardens here with individual themes. Ultimate 1 day guide to the best of Himeji, Japan
Koko-en at Himeji – There are nine gardens here with individual themes and it is really worthwhile spending some time here | Photo: georgina_daniel

3 | Engyoji Temple

To the Northwest of Himeji City Centre, lies Mount Shosha which is home to Engyoji Temple. This Buddhist Temple is a Temple of the Tendai Sect and was founded by Shoku Shomin in 966. The well-preserved wooden buildings of Engyoji Temple and its surrounds are over a 1000 years old and has been used as a location for films such as “The Last Samurai” starred by Tom Cruise.

3.1 | Travel tips and Useful information on Engyoji Temple, Himeji

Useful information:

  • Entrance is 500 Yen
  • Opens 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Getting to Engyoji Temple:

  • From Himeji Station, take the bus for Mt Shosha Ropeway and get off at the last stop – takes approximately 25 minutes;
  • Take the cable car to the top of Mt Shosha – takes approximately 5 minutes;
  • The Mountain Pass: No-mo (the gate of Engyoji Temple) and Mani-den (the main temple)

It’s a 15 to 20 minute, walk from the station at the top of Mt Shosha to Mani-den. Along the way, you can see 33 Kannon statues.

There is a bus service from the entrance to Mani-den. A round trip costs 500 Yen

Travel tips and Useful information on Ultimate 1 day guide to the best of Himeji, Japan

How to get to Himeji

Himeji is easily accessible from Kyoto and Osaka

From Kyoto:

  • Shinkansen: Kyoto and Himeji are connected via the JR Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen;
  • Hikari Shinkansen-55 minutes journey (Japan Rail Pass is valid)
  • Nozomi trains-45 minutes journey (Japan Rail Pass cannot be used)
  • JR Special Rapid Train: Shin-kaisoku takes 90 minutes.

From Osaka:

  • Shinkansen: Hikari, Sakura or Kodama trains – 40 minutes journey (Japan Rail Pass is valid);
  • JR Special Rapid Train: One hour journey.

How to move around Japan | Transportation

Enjoy unlimited travel around Japan with the JR Full Rail System Pass on all JR lines and bullet trains except Mizuho and Nozomi. You can purchase the Rail Pass to suit the duration of your travel – 7, 14 or 21 days and have it delivered to your home address well before you board your flight to Japan. Take a look here.

Planning a trip to Japan

If you are planning a trip to Japan, how about checking out the following services to enhance your travel experiences? I use them when planning my own travels and I am sure you will find them useful too.

Travel resources at a Glance

Planning your dream vacation? Excellent! Here are all the Resources and Practical information you need for your self-guided or guided vacation.

Legal entry/Tourist travel Visa

Check Visa requirements with iVisa, a leading independent company in the travel documentation industry.

Flights

I have a few choices. Search Google flights because they offer very competitive prices. You could also try Opodo for cheap airfares. For special experiences, go to On the Beach and Jet2Holidays. My all time favourite has been Qatar Airways for long-haul flights for the comfort and their first-class service. I use British Airways as well. For all other global deals >> kiwi.com

Accommodations

My favourite website for booking hotels is booking.com – I love their flexible cancellation policy which means I’m covered till the last minute. I also like that the totals show up for the whole stay so it helps me budget better. Other favourites of mine are Millennium & Copthorne Group of Hotels and Resorts for their consistent high quality accommodations and service. You could also take a look at the Radisson Hotels chain that caters for all budget. For accommodations in UK that has a personal touch and affordable luxury, stay at Hotel du Vin.

Unique experiences & tours

My all time go to resource for unique experiences and tours is Get your Guide. I am also a fan of Viator for their special deals. You shall find suggestions on recommended tours sprinkled throughout TTS on each experience I write about.

Travel insurance

Never travel without travel insurance and never overpay for travel insurance! I use and recommend World Nomads for your travel insurance needs. They even insure on the go. Before purchasing any any travel policy, read through the terms to ensure that the plan is right for you and your trip.

Travel essentials

Never travel without these! I use and fully endorse all the products on this page but especially: High powered wireless power bank, Universal travel adapter and unlimited portable pocket wifi.

You may also be interested in reading about my experiences in Kyoto – the Top 5 Must See in Kyoto and the Ultimate 2 Kyoto Markets which you should not miss. As well, you may also want to look-up my itinerary on Hiroshima and how best to see Tokyo in 3 Days.


Is this post valuable to you in planning your visits to Himeji ? If so, please let me know in comments below or via Contact Form, I would love to hear from you.

Have a great time discovering Japan.

Georgina xx

Updated February, 2021


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