Essential Architecture-  Granada

The Alhambra (candidate for the new seven wonders of the world)












  Madinat al-Zahra (near Cordoba) Upper Garden
  Overall Plan
  Cuarto Dorado and Court of the Myrtle
  Court of Myrtle
  Hall of the Ambassadors
  Court of the Lions
  Hall of Two Sisters, `stalactites'
  Hall of Two Sisters, Muquarnas Vault
The Alhambra (Red Castle) (in Arabic = Al amra') is an ancient palace and fortress complex in
Granada, in southern Spain (known as Al-Andalus when the fortress was constructed), on a hilly terrace
on the south-eastern edge of the city. The complex, which covers an area of 13 hectares, is renowned for
its stunning frescoes and interior detail. It is one of the best examples of Moorish architecture in the world
and among Europe’s most-visited tourist attractions.
The history of the Alhambra is connected closely to the geography of Granada. On a rocky hill that is
difficult to access, on the banks of the River Darro, protected by mountains and surrounded by woods,
among the oldest quarters in the city, the Alhambra rises up like a great, imposing castle. Originally
designed as a military area, the Alhambra became the residence of royalty and of the court of Granada in
the middle of the 13th century, after the establishment of the Nasrid Moorish kingdom and the
construction of the first palace by the founder king Mohammed ibn Yusuf ben Nasr, better known as
Alhamar. Throughout the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries, the fortress became a citadel with high ramparts
or walls and defensive towers, which enclose two main areas: 1) the military area or citadel, called the
alcazaba, which contain the barracks of the royal guard and is built on an isolated piece of high land, and
2) the medina or court city, with the famous Nasrid Palaces and the remains of the houses of noblemen
and other citizens who lived there. The Alhambra resembles many medieval Christian strongholds, since
it includes a castle, a palace and a residential annex for subordinates. The Charles V Palace (built after
the city was taken by the Catholic monarchs in 1492) is also in the medina.The complex of monuments
also has an independent palace opposite the Alhambra, surrounded by orchards and gardens, which was
where the kings relaxed: the Generalife.
The majority of the palace buildings are quadrangular, with all the rooms opening on to a central court.
Everywhere, the exterior is left plain, in contrast with the inside of the palace, which is full of exquisite
details on its marble pillars and arches, its ceilings with repetitive, geometrical ornamental bands, the
painted tiles on the walls and the fragile transparency of its stucco decorations. The wind blows through
the rooms and sunshine streams in—the whole effect is one of very airy lightness and grace. Blue, red,
and a golden yellow, all now a little faded from time and exposure, are the colors used most.