Having been to Morocco the previous year and the Alhambra only days earlier, I thought I had my fill of Moorish (or Mudéjar) architecture by the time I got to Seville. With a sunny Friday morning to fill, I decided to drop in anyway, and was pleasantly surprised.
The Alcazar entrance is a little confusing, so I skipped getting a plan and just wandered around among the tour groups, stopping from time to time when I found one speaking English or French. I pieced together enough of a tour to get a healthy appreciation for the building, its reconstruction and “revision” after Seville re-conquered by the Christians.
As the sun got higher in the sky, and the temperature soared to 38C, I sought refuge in any little patch of shade among the fountains and gardens. Tucked away under the Patio del Crucero, I saw a small, unassuming sign: “Los Baños de Doña María de Padilla.” It was completely silent, not another visitor in sight. I felt like the only person in the world who knew this world existed. (A quick search of the internet confirms this is not the case).
Doña María de Padilla was, in fact, the mistress of the King, Pedro I, also known as Pedro the Cruel. He was forced to marry another for political reasons, but if architecture is any indication, he obviously loved María.