Origin and History of the Surname Alcazar

Alcazar Name Meaning and History
Alcazar surname

Alcazar Coat of Arms

Alcázar: A Moorish fortified palace, the most famous of which is the much modified Alcázar de Sevilla.

We have noticed the surname Alcazar here in Chile is always pronounced and written with an accent over the second syllable, and we also note that most Spanish sites, like the article below, indicates the same accent.

From one source:

In the year 711 A.D., As the rest of the Iberian Peninsula, Alcázar de San Juan succumbs to the Arabic invasion. An important fortified enclosure is built, so that the name of the city becomes "Al-kasar" ("the palace").

The site of the Alcázar of Segovia, on the top of a rock shaped by the rivers Eresma and Clamores, shows the military origins of this fortress which, for centuries, was impregnable.

The oldest testimony we have of the Alcázar is a document dating from the early days of the 12th century (1122), a short time after the town had been recaptured by Alfonso VI, which refers to the fortress as a hill-fort on the Eresma. A short time later, in a letter of 1155, it was already being referred to as "Alcázar". However, it is more than probable that the fortress had existed in earlier times, possibly since the Roman occupation, because granite blocks similar to those of the Aqueduct have been found in the course of recent excavations. In residencies of the monarchs of Castile, partly due to the beauty of its location and its unquestionable military secureness, and partly for its proximity to the famous hunting-grounds in the mountain forests.

Alcazar Family Crest

The Alcázar is one of Andalucía’s gems,  a beautiful architectural masterpiece, whose history tells the story of Seville.

Originally a Moorish fort – the name comes from the Arabic for palace – the Alcázar is one of the finest remaining examples of predominantly Mudéjar architecture in the country; but that only begins to tell the tale. This seemingly exquisitely designed palace – still officially designated as an official royal residence – has, in fact, been added to continuously over the years.

It was at the beginning of the 10th Century that the original building was started but during the following century the ruling Almohades began to fully develop their royal fortress – on the western side of the current site. Following the reconquest, successive kings augmented the buildings but the predominant figure in this part of the Alcázar’s history was the controversial Pedro I, who added, amongst other things, the mighty Palacio de Don Pedro. Pedro employed mainly Moorish and Jewish workers brought from Granada and incorporated huge fragments of buildings from Córdoba, Valencia and the nearby ruined city of Itálica into the constructions. The buildings, and especially the wonderful gardens incorporated into the Palace, were developed all the way to the 19th Century. Indeed, the gardens near the Amohad Wall on the eastern side of the complex are a 20th Century addition. The fascinating thing, however, is that – with this profusion of Mundéjar, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles – the Alcázar has such a wonderful feeling of unity about it.

There are so many aspects about this palace to fascinate and intrigue visitors – both inside the rooms, in the patios and the wonderful gardens.

Perhaps the most spectacular and luxurious of the rooms are the Cuarto Real Alto and the Salón de Embajadores. The former is the suite of rooms used by the Spanish Royal family, although usually open to the public, and is as extravagently decorated as you might expect. The Salón de Embajadores was originally the throne room of Pedro I and has sumptuously tiled walls and a ceiling with a magnificent cedarwood cupola, with elaborate star patterns. It has a particularly spectacular archway, Arco de Pavones, covered with motifs of peacocks.

This room is part of Pedro I’s incredible fusion of Muslim and Iberian styles – the Palacio de Don Pedro. You’ll especially notice the Patio de las Doncellas, the Courtyard of the Maidens, commemorating the annual demand by the Moors of 100 virgins from their Christian kingdoms. This is as astonishingly beautiful as anything in the Alhambra – containing a large reflective pool, with sunken gardens on either side, exquisitely shaped arches, and spectacular wooden doors. The irony of this beauty being the creation of a ruler who murdered many of his own family in order to keep his position will add more poignancy to the occasion. The upper storey was added later by Carlos V and mixes Italian Renaissance and Mudéjar styles. Go from there into the adjoining Cámara Regia, with its mix of plaster and tilework, and you’ll fully understand why people become so enchanted by the atmosphere of the Alcázar.

There are many other compelling attractions. The Sala de Audiencias, for example, has the first known painting of Columbus’ American discoveries. The Casa de Contratación includes the chapel in which Columbus reported back to Ferdinand and Isabella after his second journey.

You’ll also see many references to Doña Maria de Padilla – her bedrooms, her patio, her bathing waters. Now a symbol of purity to the people of Seville, this former mistress of Pedro I, who apparently loved her to distraction, had a fascinating life story.

No reference to the Alcázar would be complete, though, without reference to the delightful gardens. Andalucía has many beautiful gardens – notably at Granada and Cordoba, of course - but those of Seville lose little in comparison with any of them. Even on the hottest summer’s day – and they do get hot in Seville – the gentle elegance and grace of the gardens, with their delicate water features, meticulous planting and cunning use of light and shade, will be soothing and restorative.

There is so much more that could be said about the Alcázar of Seville. Just the other side of Plaza del Triunfo from the mighty Cathedral, the main entrance for visitors is through the Puerta del León. No matter how brief your stay in the city, don't miss it.

Alcazar:  What’s In A Name

The name Alcazar means castle, palace or fortress, or home.  The origin of Alcazar is Spanish Arabic from qasr.  The Moors of Spain and Arab distinction built alcazars throughout their territories.  Etymology aside, the name Alcazar carries the connotation of richness and color.

Mostly, the term Moor refers historically to several historic and modern populations of Muslim (and earlier non-Muslim) people of Berber and Arab descent from North Africa, some of whom came to inhabit the Iberian Peninsula. The North Africans termed it Al Andalus, comprising most of what is now Spain and Portugal.  

The Andalusian Moors of the late Medieval era inhabited the Iberian Peninsula after the Moorish conquests of the Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates, and the final Umayyad conquest of Hispania.  The Moors' rule stretched at times as far as modern-day Mauritania, West African countries, and the Senegal River.  Earlier, the Classical Romans interacted (and later conquered) parts of Mauretania, a state which covered northern portions of modern Morocco and much of north western and central Algeria during the classical period. The people of the region were noted in Classical literature as the Mauri.

The term Mauri, or variations thereof, was later used by European traders and explorers of the 16th to 18th centuries to designate ethnic Berber and Arab groups speaking the Hassaniya Arabic dialect.  Today such groups inhabit Mauritania and parts of Algeria, western Sahara, Morocco, Niger and Mali and to those in India and Sri Lanka.  Mauri was the genesis of the name of the ancient kingdom of Mauretania, which gave its name to the modern Islamic Republic of Mauritania.  In the Philippines, some residents use a variation of the term to designate some Muslim populations, the Moros.

Alcazar is a name of the dwellings originally built and occupied by the Moors.  Today, the connotation is broader.  There is a video game, the name of cafes and shops in Paris and the French Rivera.  Alcazar is the name of a band, hotels in the United States and Canada, and is a comic book feature.

Alcazar do Sal is a municipality in Portugal which is composed of six parishes.  The name Alcazar means home, hospitality, relaxation, pleasure.  May you experience them all, Alcazar.

Seville - enjoying in royal garden El Alcazar de Seville

Seville - inside Alcazar

Next to the Cathedral of Seville

we can visit Reales Alcazares. It was the first royal palace in Seville formed by a series of smaller palaces, which is why its often referrd to in the plural »Reales Alcazares. The Alcazar Palace has been a seat of power and a royal residence, in fact, it remains teh official residence of the current royal family. Inside examples of Moorish architectur are mixed with gothic, renaissance and baroque elements. The gardens are also beautiful, where the gentle murmur of the water and teh smell of teh flowers create a paradise atmosphere.

Al Raman

Seville Alcazar garden

Al Raman

ordered the construction of this fortified palace in 931 AD. The Alcazar comprises a series of palaces which are the most important example of civil architecture in Seville. In the interior, the outstanding palace grounds, gardens and servants quarters are spread over an area enclosed by walls on the south side of Sevilles Historic City Centre. Rather than an architectural unit, the Alcazar has an intimate atmosphere created by an intermingling of Muslim artistic elements with others from the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods. The most striking contribution by Pedro I  was the reconstruction of the older parts of the Abbadi Alcazar and other early palaces.

Alcazar palace

Seville Alcazar castlle


Alcazar palace

is a part time residence of the Royal Family, and it is the oldest Royal Palace used in Europe. Noteworthy as it is it not mererly a singular palace but a series of palaces, the product of successive reforms that took place since the Arab occupation. Thus these grounds bring together a perfect symbiosis, a succession of architectural styles, from Islamic to Neoclassical, incorporating Mudejar elements, Gothic, Renaissance, Plateresque, Purist, Baroque and Rococo; all contributing to the magnificence of this landmark. They are present at its beautiful gardens, patios, rooms and tapestries.

Peaceful gardens of Alcazar

Seville Alcazar castlle

Peaceful gardens with flowers and plants

that recreate a heavenly setting are adjacent to the palace courtyard . One can appreciate glimpses of islamic, classical and modern environment with the Doña María de Padilla baths, statues of Mercury and Arbour. The New Garden section are modeled after English and Arab-Andalusian llandscaping. There is a cultural program which frequently offers events of all types and being one of the richest in the city.

Inside of Royal fortress

On the beach

Alcazar – Inside Royal fortress

There are lots of fascinating rooms, corridors and courtyards inside the Fortress. You'll get impressed since you join the palace from the Lion gate. Going straight we arrive to Hunting Courtyard and then to the Mudejar Palace, where there are some of the rooms I show you here (Courtyard of Maidservants, Ceiling Room of Charles V, Ambassadors Room, King's Bedroom, Dolls Courtyard, Ceiling Room of Philip II and Infante's Room) all of them in Mudejar style.
The other parts are the Gothic Palace (where this tapestry is found), the Court Room, the China house and two more courtyards.

Dean's Window to the World

A Short History of the Roma People (Gypsies)

A Short History of the Dogon Tribe

Email This Page Link to a Friend!

If you found the site interesting or useful, please consider a small donation of Bitcoins to us at the following address:


Updated November 2013