The Patio de los Naranjos: A Tranquil Courtyard with a Rich History

The Patio de los Naranjos, or Courtyard of the Orange Trees, is a courtyard in the Seville Cathedral. 

It was originally a sahn courtyard for the Almohad mosque that once stood there. 

Muslims used it for ritual cleansing before entering the prayer hall.

What does history have to say about it?

After King Ferdinand III captured Seville from its Islamic Moorish rulers, the mosque was first converted into a cathedral.

Then it was demolished to make way for the cathedral.

However, the Christian rulers decided to preserve some of the mosque’s original architecture and parts.

Hence, the courtyard, now known as the Patio de los Naranjos, or Court of Oranges, is now standing there.

Its striking features

The courtyard has an octagonal fountain and lots of orange trees, along with some palms and cypresses.

Despite undergoing significant changes over the centuries, the Patio de los Naranjos still bears traces of its Islamic origins.

One striking feature is the presence of pillars supporting pointed horseshoe arches on two sides of the courtyard.

A fountain stands at the center of the courtyard, the only remaining sign of the Visigoth period (5th to 8th centuries).

The current one was built on top of the original fountain (or midha, as it was referred to when the mosque was still there), which was used for the washing ritual by Muslims.

The eastern area, or cloister of the courtyard, is known as the Granada.

It has a famous stone platform that has hosted sermons delivered by many famous preachers.

The Granada stands as a symbol of the courtyard’s spiritual importance and its connection to the religious practices carried out within the Seville Cathedral.

How do I get there?

To enter the Patio de los Naranjos, visitors can pass through the Puerta del Perdón, also known as the Door of Forgiveness.

This entrance is adorned with stucco engravings that hark back to the time of the mosque, symbolizing that entering the courtyard grants access to paradise.

In addition to this entrance, there are other doors leading to the exterior of the cathedral and adjacent areas.

The courtyard is encompassed by the northern facade of the cathedral on the left, the Iglesia del Sagrario in the middle, and a gallery on the right.

But why oranges?

Historically, bitter oranges, from which Sevillan orange trees originate, were first brought to Europe by Genoese sailors.

These were brought from Asia, where their planting was associated with the happiness of their owner.

 Hence, when the Arabs expanded to Spain and established the Moorish kingdom, they planted oranges here.

Even after the Catholic king Ferdinand III conquered Spain, the orange trees remained, and slowly, the trees and the sweet smell associated with them became Seville’s emblem.

To conclude, The Patio de los Naranjos is a beautiful and historic courtyard that is worth visiting if you are in Seville.

It is a reminder of the city’s rich Islamic heritage and a popular spot for locals and tourists alike to relax and enjoy the fresh air.

Why is Seville famous for oranges?

Seville is known for its abundance of orange trees, with 25,000 in the city.

The orange trees were originally brought from China by the Moors and were used for medicinal purposes until the Middle Ages.

The Seville orange is not suitable for juice but is used for perfume, wine, and jam, particularly the famous “Seville Orange Marmalade.”

The best time to visit Seville and experience the orange blossoms is in March and early April.

Featured Image: Mezquita-catedraldecordoba.es

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