"Alcácer" redirects here. For the footballer, see Paco Alcácer.
Hall of Ambassadors at the Alcázar of Seville.

An alcázar (pronunciation: /ˈæl kəˌzɑːr/)[1] is a type of Moorish castle or palace in Spain and Portugal built during Muslim rule, although some were founded by Christians and others were built on earlier Roman or Visigothic fortifications. Most of the alcázars were built between the 8th and 15th centuries. Many cities in Spain have an alcázar. The term is sometimes used as a synonym for "castillo" or castle; palaces or forts built by Christian rulers were also often called alcázars.


The Spanish word alcázar (pronounced: [alˈkaθar]) derives from the Arabic word القصر al-qasr "the fort, castle, or palace", which is possibly in turn derived from the Latin word castrum, meaning an army camp or fort.

Similar words exist in Galician (alcázar, pronounced: [alˈkaθaɾ]), Portuguese (alcácer, pronounced: [ɐɫˈkasɛɾ]), and Catalan (alcàsser, pronounced: [əɫˈkasər]).

Spain also has Moorish citadels known as alcazabas (القصبة al-qasbah). However, not all castles in Spain are called alcázar: the majority are called castillo. Nor was every alcázar or alcazaba in Iberia built by the Moors: many castles with these names were built after the Moors had withdrawn from the Iberian Peninsula.

Landmark alcázars

Disappeared landmark alcázars

Outside Spain

Outside Spain, in Palermo, Sicily, the district called Cassaro corresponds to the Punic settlement of Zis, on high ground that was refortified by Arabs and known as al-qaṣr, and was further expanded as the site of the later Norman palace.

In Portugal there is a city called Alcácer do Sal that was an administrative regional seat for the Moors of al-Andalus.

The former colonial palace in Santo Domingo, originally built for Christopher Columbus's son Diego in 1509, is commonly known as the Alcázar de Colón ("Columbus's alcázar") and is built in the Andalusian style.

See also


  1. "Alcazar". Unabridged. 10 Oct 2015.
  2. Hugh Thomas, The Spanish Civil War, revised and enlarged edition (1977), New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-014278-2. p. 324
  3. Reed, Tony (2005). "Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos - Cordoba". Archived from the original on 11 May 2006. Retrieved April 4, 2006.
  4. Philip of Spain by Henry Kamen

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