The Alhambra

Granada, Andalusia, Spain, is the location of the palace complex Alhambra. In addition to being an important monument of Islamic architecture, the palace is also an example of Spanish Renaissance architecture and one of the best-preserved palaces in the historic Islamic world.

Granada, the last Islamic state of Al-Andalus, was founded in 1238 by Muhammad I Ibn al-Ahmar, the first Nasrid emir. In the 11th century, Samuel ibn Naghrillah built the palace on a hill called Sabika, which had been the site of several fortresses and palaces. Later Nasrid rulers continuously modified the site. During the reign of Yusuf I and Muhammad V in the 14th century, the most significant building campaigns took place, giving the palaces much of their unique character. The site became the royal court of Ferdinand and Isabella after the Christian Reconquista was ended in 1492, and its palaces underwent some changes. Charles V of Spain commissioned a new Renaissance-style palace in 1526, directly opposite the Nasrid palaces, but it remained incomplete in the 17th century. For centuries, the Alhambra was neglected, its structures occupied by squatters. Following Napoleon I’s defeat, its parts were destroyed by his troops and rediscovered centuries later. Rediscoverers of the area were first British intellectuals, followed by Americans and northern Europeans in the Romantic period. Washington Irving brought international attention to the Alhambra with Tales of the Alhambra, the most influential book by him. One of the first Islamic monuments studied by modern scientists was the Alhambra, which has undergone numerous restorations since the 19th century. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Spain’s top tourist destinations.

Nasrid time, Alhambra was an independent city with its own streets and buildings. Among the amenities of the city were the Friday mosque, hammams, roads, houses, artisan workshops, a tannery, and an elaborate water supply system. The royal city and citadel had at least six palaces, most of them located on the north edge of the city, which gave it a view of the Albaic*n quarter. Mexuar, Comares Palace, Palace of the Lions, and Partal Palace are the most famous and best preserved among them, making them the main attractions today. Historical sources and modern archaeological work provide information about the rest. Alcazaba fortress stands at the western end of the Alhambra. In addition, there are a number of small towers and fortified gates located along the Alhambra’s walls. Within the Alhambra walls lies the Generalife, the former Nasrid summer palace and country estate. It is home to historical orchards and modern gardens.

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