One of the oldest and most illustrious noble houses in Spain, the House of Alba, boasts a rich heritage, which dates back many centuries and encompasses several magnificent estates located all over the country as well as a great cultural and artistic legacy.
One of the most emblematic properties of the House of Alba is the Palacio de Las Dueñas in Sevilla, Andalusia. Named after the old monastery of Santa Maria de Las Dueñas, it was built between the XV and changed hands more than once, having belonged, among others, to Enriquez de Ribera y Portocarrero and his wife Juana Cortes, daughter of Hernan Cortes, conqueror of Mexico.
In the XV century the palace was inherited by Antonia Enriquez de Ribera, wife of Fernando Alvarez de Toledo, 6th Duke of Alba. Since then, Las Dueñas, as the Palace is known, has belonged to the House of Alba.
In March 2016, Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart y Silva, one of the most beloved members of that noble house, passed away. Her oldest son and heir of the title, Carlos Juan Fitz-James Stuart y Martínez de Irujo, considered time had come to open the Palacio de Las Dueñas to the public. Built in Gothic-Mudejar and Renaissance style, it is not only one of the most beautiful buildings in Sevilla, but it is also a fine example of the noble architecture of the city. In addition to the stunning blend of gardens and courtyards that characterizes the Andalusian design, it boasts a magnificent collection of art works, sculptures, tapestries, historical documents and antique furnishings, gathered with love and pride for more than five centuries.
During the twentieth century, Las Dueñas was a favorite meeting place of members of the European noble families, celebrities, politicians and artists. Empress Eugenia de Montijo, wife of Napoleón III was a frequent visitor, as well as King Eduardo VIII and his brother Jorge VI of England, Spanish king Alfonso XIII, The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Jacqueline Kennedy, Wallis Simpson, Grace Kelly and her husband Rainiero de Mónaco, the Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa, the King and Queen of Sweden, actor Michael Douglas, soprano Monserrat Caballé, and many others.
Guided by an escort, visitors will have the opportunity to admire the unique beauty of the palace’s interior, the main courtyard, the stables, the Salon de la Gitana (Gypsy Room), the Patio de los Limones, the Patio del Aceite, the Chapel, the private dining room and other rooms.
The luxurious elegance and lavishness of the interiors is evident. In the courtyards visitors will be enchanted with the beauty of the Moorish arches and the Renaissance friezes, and art lovers will have the unique opportunity to admire the porcelains, the antique tableware, the lamps and jewel cases, as well as an exceptional art collection that includes works by renowned artists such as Ribera, Anguissola, Carraci, Zuloaga, Benlliure and many other masters. The bullfighting tradition is also present all over the palace, exhibiting bullfighting posters and customs as well as sculptures representing bulls. ■
For more information visit: Las Dueñas.
PHOTOS: © Palacio de Las Dueñas