A palace and a fortress, Alhambra is located in Granada, Andalusia. Granada is located in the southern part of Spain and at the foothills of the Nevada Mountains. Alhambra sits atop a rocky hill and its construction as a fortress was started in 889 A.D. on the site of am old Roman fort. It was later renovated in the mid 13th century by the Emir of Granada, who built palaces on the same grounds in the Nasrid style. The image above is the Coat of Arms of the Emirate of Granada, the rulers of the Nasrid Dynasty that reigned from the 1200 until around the late 1400.
Claims were made that the name Alhambra comes from an Arabic Al-Ḥamrā which means “red or crimson castle”, which could be a reference to the reddish bricks used to construct the towers. The Alhambra was originally a fortress – an Alcazaba. Palaces were added called Alcazar in Arabic were added in the succeeding years.
Above is the El Partal, the oldest building in the Alhambra. Its name is derived from the Arabic partal for portico.
This image shows the the Palacio de Comares. It contains several rooms and features galleries and porticoes. One of the rooms is called the Sala de la Barca or Hall of the Boat and it boasts of a beautifully wooden ceiling.
The ceiling of the Sala De la Barca
A bigger hall, the Salon de los Embajadores is quite impressive with its walls decorated in Arabic inscriptions and in repeating decorative motifs. A cross-section of the one of the walls is shown in the following photograph.
Decorative tiles in different colors and patterns adorn half of the walls.
The same tile patterns are ubiquitous in Spain as they decorate handbags, plates, cups, postcards, note books, T-shirts, scarves and other numerous items that are sold as souvenirs.
The jewel of the Alhambra is the Palace of the Lions. This palace is a masterpiece in the use of Arabesque and other decorative arts using wood, plaster, ceramics and inscriptions of Muslim poetry in Islamic calligraphy. It stands as a testament of cooperation and the marriage of Moorish and Christian architecture known as Nasrid style that was greatly influential as an architectural expression in later years. This palace features private chambers meant for the royal family with baths, a harem and a central courtyard flanked by beautiful columns on the three sides.
The courtyard, called the Patio de Leones, boast of a fountain at the center with an alabaster basin supported by 12 lions made of white marble that spout water from their mouths. The lions are meant to symbolize strength, power and sovereignty.
This is the Palacio de Carlos V. The architect, Pedro Machuca, hails from Toledo, Spain but received his training in Rome and was reputedly influenced and taught by the great Michelangelo.
The building is square in shape and has 32 columns courtyard.This courtyard functions today as a great venue for performance arts.
The Palacio De Carlos V now houses two museums: Museo de Alhambra on the ground floor and Museo de Bellas Artes on the Second Floor. The Palacio de Carlos V is said to be the first Renaissance structure in Spain.
The Alcazaba is from the Arabic word Al Qasba, The Alcazaba is believed to have been started in the 9th century for military purposes. Additions were made in later years by succeeding rulers.
It was the very last stand of the Moorish resistance against the Christians, a period in Spanish history known as Reconquista or the fall of the Nasrid Emirate of Granada.
It is claimed that the original sections of the Alcazaba were started in the 9th century. The 5th marked the fall of the Roman empire and their subsequent departure from the Iberia. I can only speculate that the Alcazaba must have been started then by the Visigoths as the time coincides with their arrival in Spain.
The Alcazaba fortress has three towers: Torre Quebrada, the Torre del Homenaje and the Torre de la Vela.
The above structure, the Iglesia de Santa Maria, stands on the grounds of the Alhambra.
Above is the Iglesia de Santa Maria and it stands on the grounds of the Alhambra.Built around the 16th-century, the church stands on the former site of the Alhambra’s Great Mosque. Traces of its Moorish origins is quite evident with the designs on the walls and above the door of the church.
The Palacio de Generalife or Gineralife (derived from the Arabic word Jennat Al Arif) means Garden of the Architect. The Villa has a 14th century provenance and served as the summer palace of the Nasrid rulerss of the Emirate of Granada.
The Palace and the gardens were built around the 13th hundred. The patio of the villa is called Patio de la Acequia or Court of the Water Channel. It features long flowerbeds, fountains and colonnades. As one visiting the Alhambra during the summer months, this place provided a cool and refreshing respite from the stifling heat of the day.
Other structures on the grounds are shown in the following photographs:
The Grounds of the Alhambra:
This photograph of a section of the Alhambra gardens as well as the following photographs are testament of how gardening was made into an art on the grounds of the Alhambra.
Below is some of the plant life around the complex. Bougainvilleas of different colors are everywhere on the grounds of the Alhambra.
A window view of the village below the Alhambra.
The nearby village of Sacromonte as seen from the Alhambra.
The city of Granada and the Nevada mountains as viewed from the highest point of Alhambra.