The Alhambra Palace in Granada stands as one of the most frequented monuments globally, nestled in the picturesque region of Andalusia, Spain. The Alhambra Palace captivates visitors with its elaborate architecture and rich history. Here are some interesting facts about Alhambra that are not known to many and will greatly enrich your visit to Granada.
Alhambra Palace is called the Red Fortress for a very simple reason, the word ‘Alhambra’ commonly means red or vermilion castle in the Arabic language. It is said that the name was apt due to the colors of the towers and the red walls surrounding the citadel.
Prior to its transformation into a palace, the Romans initiated the construction of fortifications in the area during their occupation of Spain. Following the decline of the Roman Empire, these fortifications eventually fell into ruin. In the latter part of the year 889 A.D, a modest fortress was erected, taking the place of the Roman ruins.
In the past, residents of the palace, representing various social classes, each had their designated walkway. The cleaning staff had their own corridor, while separate paths were allocated for administrations, scribes, and a distinct entrance for the Sultan and his family known as the royal court walk. Although within the same space, strict segregation was maintained, prohibiting any mixing among the different social groups.
The design that was made for Alhambra had 6 palaces, numerous bathhouses, two towers, and an irrigation system called ‘acequias’, that removed the dependency on rainwater collection. The residents enjoyed economic and cultural prosperity during the reign of the Nasrid Dynasty thus transforming Alhambra into a palatine city.
Most of the walls in Alhambra have inscriptions. They are not decorative but consist of poems and quotes from the Qur’an that filled everyday life with beauty and spirituality. If you are keen to know more about these before you visit, check out the book ‘Reading the Alhambra’ by Jose Miguel Puerta.
The Muslim Emirs curated an architectural style using a quadrangular building that all came together in a central courtyard. An interesting fact about the Alhambra is that all the additions made by later Emirs followed a similar pattern, connecting quadrangular rooms with smaller rooms and passages. The theme was consistent: ‘To resemble a paradise on earth.’
The tilework is pure symmetry and all the corners adhere to mathematical principles. This was designed to represent Allah’s grandeur on Earth. Hence, this had to be perfect. However, it is said that the designers included one invisible mistake to the naked eye because according to them, aiming for complete perfection was considered to be a defiance of God.
All the palaces that are seen within the Alhambra complexes were not built until the 13th century. It came into being by the end of the Nasrid dynasty and additions to the fortified site offered a space for the Nasrid emirs until the end of the dynasty when Spain defeated the Moors.
The Hall of Ambassadors is the largest room in the complex where the sultan hosted the grand receptions. It was also the throne room, consisting of double arches, glazed tiles, and a lot of inscriptions. The flooring, however, is now covered with clay floor tiles, but before the refurbishment, it was made from marble.
Prior to its conversion into a splendid palace, every cistern in the vicinity held no water, necessitating the manual fetching of water in buckets from the hills. Subsequently, over the course of centuries, a hydraulic system was constructed, mirroring the original system, to provide the palace and its gardens with a reliable water supply.
Upon entering the Court of Myrtles within the Palace, an eye-catching goldfish pool comes into view. Constructed both to cool the interiors of the Palace and symbolize power, this marble pool is distinct from others as it is encircled by a sunken garden, making it a notable feature in the surroundings.
The decoration dates back to the great period of Andalusian art in Granada and influences Byzantine contemporary architecture. The artists who worked on these decorations carved plaster and not stone. They also used tile mosaics for paneling for the arches and columns.
Situated in Granada, Spain, the Alhambra is a renowned palace and fortress, standing as the most prominent monument of Islamic architecture. Not only is it the best-preserved palace, but it also showcases examples of Spanish Renaissance architecture.
The name Alhambra means ‘red’ in Arabic and is said to be inspired by the reddish color of the outer walls of the Palace.
he Alhambra is a palace and fortress complex that is situated in Granada, Andalusia, Spain.
The Alhambra Palace in Granada was built by the founding king Mohammed Ibn Yusuf Ben Nasr, also known as Alhamar.
The Alhambra Palace was built between 1238 and 1358, during the reign of Ibn al-Ahmar, founder of the Nasrid dynasty.
It was a military zone in the beginning before Alhambra became the royal residence and court of Granada in the mid-13th century.
Alhambra’s architecture consists of stunning frescoes, highly decorated columns and arches, and ornamented walls that have stories of a turbulent era.
The most famous are the Comares Palace, the Mexuar, the Palace of the Lions, and the Partal Palace, which is a main attraction to visitors.