This paper discusses the research conducted prior to restoring the 'Don Pedro I' facade on the Real Alcázar or royal palace at Seville, Spain. The different types of stone on the facade were located and characterized, and their state of decay mapped. Although other materials (brick, rendering, ceramics, marble) are present on the facade, its main elements are made from two types of limestone: palomera and tosca, each in a different state of conservation and exhibiting distinct behaviour. Colour parameters, real and bulk densities, compactness, open porosity, water saturation coefficient and total porosity were determined to characterize the two varieties. In addition, ultrasonic techniques were used to map the various levels of decay on the facade, stone by stone, for future interventions. The findings show that owing to its petrographical and petrophysical properties, palomera stone is of a lower quality than tosca stone, and has undergone more intense deterioration.