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 Essential Architecture-  Madrid

The Alcazar




Segovia, near Madrid


1000 or 1410 to 1455






An alcázar is a Spanish castle, from the Arabic word al qasr meaning palace or fortress, from the Latin castellum "fortress" (ultimately from castrum "watchpost"). Many cities in Spain have an alcázar.
In the Alcázar of Segovia, Queen Isabella of Castile married King Ferdinand II of Aragon. Built in the 12th century. During the Middle Ages, the alcázar of Segovia was the favourite residence of kings of Castile, and almost each king added new parts to the building, transforming the original fortress into a courtier residence and prolonging the construction of the castle till 16th century, when king Philip II added the conical spires and the slate roofs. A fire in 1862 destroyed part of the roofs, but they were restored in the very same style they were built 300 years ago. It is known that Walt Disney was inspired by the Alcazar de Segovia to create his famous Cinderella Castle.

The Alcázar of Toledo was used as a military academy in modern times. The famous "Siege of the Alcázar" in the Spanish Civil War refers to the Toledo castle, which was held by the Nationalist Colonel José Moscardó Ituarte against overwhelming Republican forces. Republican forces kidnapped Moscardó's son. They said Moscardó could either turn over the Alcazar or his son would die. Moscardo did not surrender and his son was murdered in July of 1936.
The Alcázar of Seville was built in the 1360s by Moorish craftsmen for Pedro the Cruel who, with his mistress, Maria de Padilla, lived in and ruled from the Alcazar, and often remodeled. A UNESCO World Heritage site.
Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos in Córdoba, Spain was a Moorish palace taken over after the Reconquista. Alcázar was the summer home of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella and the site of their meeting with Christopher Columbus before his famous voyage.
Outside Spain, in modern Palermo, Sicily, the district still called the Cassaro corresponds to the area of ancient Punic settlement of Zis, on high ground that was refortified by the Arabs and called ????? al qasr, and further expanded as the site of the later Norman palace.

During the Spanish transition to democracy, the newspaper El Alcázar expressed the views of the búnker, the extreme right that opposed any democratization.