:"This article is about the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. For other meanings, see:
Alhambra (disambiguation)."Infobox World Heritage Site
Alhambra, Generalifeand Albayzín, Granada
State Party =
Type = Cultural
Criteria = i, iii, iv
ID = 314
Region = Europe and North America
Year = 1984
Session = 8th
Extension = 1994
Link = http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/314
The Alhambra (Arabic: الحمراء = "Al-Ħamrā"; literally "the red one"; the complete name is "Qal'at al-Hambra", which means "The red fortress") is a palace and fortress complex of the Moorish rulers of Granada in southern
Spain(known as " Al-Andalus" when the fortress was constructed), occupying a hilly terrace on the southeastern border of the city of Granada. coord|37.17686|-3.589901
Once the residence of the
Muslimrulers of Granada and their court, the Alhambra is now one of Spain's major tourist attractions exhibiting the country's most famous Islamic architecture, together with Christian 16th century and later interventions in buildings and gardens that marked its image as it can be seen today.Within the Alhambra, the Palace of Charles Vwas erected by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperorin 1527. coord|37|10|36.81|N|3|35|23.95|W|display=title
The terrace or plateau where the Alhambra sits measures about 740 m (2430 ft) in length by 205 m (674 ft) at its greatest width. It extends from WNW to ESE and covers an area of about 142,000 m². Its most westerly feature is the
alcazaba(citadel); a strongly fortified position. The rest of the plateau comprises a number of palaces, enclosed by a relatively weak fortified wall, with thirteen towers, some defensive and some providing vistas for the inhabitants. The river Darropasses through a ravine on the north and divides the plateau from the Albaicín district of Granada. Similarly, the Assabica valley, containing the Alhambra Park on the west and south, and, beyond this valley, the almost parallel ridge of Monte Mauror, separate it from the Antequeruela district.
. The Alhambra mixes natural elements with man-made ones, and is a testament to the skill of Muslim craftsmen of that time.
The literal translation of Alhambra "red fortress" derives from the colour of the red clay of the surroundings of which the fort is made. The buildings of the Alhambra were originally
whitewashed; however, the buildings now seen today are reddish.
The first reference to the Qal’at al Hamra was during the battles between the
Arabsand the Muladiesduring the rule of the ‘Abdullah ibn Muhammad(r. 888-912). In one particularly fierce and bloody skirmish, the Muladies soundly defeated the Arabs, who were then forced to take shelter in a primitive red castle located in the province of Elvira, presently located in Granada. According to surviving documents from the era, the red castle was quite small, and its walls were not capable of deterring an army intent on conquering. The castle was then largely ignored until the eleventh century, when its ruins were renovated and rebuilt by Samuel ibn Naghralla, vizier to the King Bādīsof the ZiridDynasty, in an attempt to preserve the small Jewish settlement also located on the Sabikah hill. However, evidence from Arab texts indicates that the fortress was easily penetrated and that the actual Alhambra that survives today was built during the Nasrid Dynasty.
Ibn Nasr, the founder of the
Nasrid Dynasty, was forced to flee to Jaén in order to avoid persecution by King Ferdinand and his supporters during attempts to rid Spain of Moorish Dominion. After retreating to Granada, Ibn-Nasr took up residence at the Palace of Bādis in the Alhambra. A few months later, he embarked on the construction of a new Alhambra fit for the residence of a king. According to an Arab manuscript published as the "Anónimo de Granada y Copenhague", "This year 1238 Abdallah ibn al-Ahmar climbed to the place called "the Alhambra" inspected it, laid out the foundations of a castle and left someone in charge of its construction…" The design included plans for six palaces, five of which were grouped in the northeast quadrant forming a royal quarter, two circuit towers, and numerous bathhouses. During the reign of the Nasrid Dynasty, the Alhambra was transformed into a palatine city complete with an irrigation system composed of acequias for the gardens of the Generalife located outside the fortress. Previously, the old Alhambra structure had been dependent upon rainwater collected from a cistern and from what could be brought up from the Albaicín. The creation of the Sultan's Canal solidified the identity of the Alhambra as a palace-city rather than a defensive and ascetic structure.
The Muslim rulers lost Granada and Alhambra in 1492 without the fortress itself being attacked when King
Ferdinand II of Aragonand Queen Isabella of Castiletook the surrounding region with overwhelming numbers.
Art of the Alhambra
The decorations within the palaces typified the remains of Moorish dominion within Spain and ushered in the last great period of Andalusian art in Granada. With little influence from the Islamic mainlandFact|date=April 2008, artists endlessly reproduced the same forms and trends, creating a new style that developed over the course of the Nasrid Dynasty. The Nasrids used freely all the display of stylistical resorts that had been created and developed during eight centuries of Muslim rule in the Peninsula as the Calliphal horse-shoe arch, the Almohad sebka or the Almoravid palm, and unused combinations of them, beside novelties as the stilted arches and the capitals of muqarnas, among others. The isolation with the rest of the Islam, and the commercial and political relationship with the Christian kingdoms also influenced in the space concepts. Columns, muqarnas and stalactite-like ceiling decorations, appear in several chambers, and the interiors of numerous palaces are decorated with arabesques and calligraphy. The arabesques of the interior are ascribed, among other kings, to
Yusef I, Mohammed V, and Ismail I.
Damage produced in Later EraAfter the Christian conquest of the city in 1492, the conquerors began to alter the Alhambra. The open work was filled up with
whitewash, the painting and gilding effaced, and the furniture soiledFact|date=April 2008, torn, or removed. Charles V (1516–1556) rebuilt portions in the Renaissance style of the period and destroyed the greater part of the winter palace to make room for a Renaissance-style structure which has never been completed. Philip V (1700–1746) Italianised the rooms and completed his palace in the middle of what had been the Moorish building; he had partitions constructed which blocked up whole apartments.
Over subsequent centuries the Moorish art was further damaged, and, in 1812, some of the towers were destroyed by the French under
Count Sebastiani, while the whole building narrowly escaped the same fate. Napoleonhad tried to blow up the whole complex. Just before his plan was carried out, a soldier who secretly wanted the plan of Napoleon — his commander — to fail, defused the explosives and thus saved the Alhambra for posterity.Fact|date=March 2008 In 1821, an earthquakecaused further damage. The work of restoration undertaken in 1828 by the architect José Contreraswas endowed in 1830 by Ferdinand VII; and after the death of Contreras in 1847, it was continued with fair success by his son Rafael (d. 1890) and his grandson.Designed to reflect the very beauty of Paradise itself, the Alhambra is made up of gardens, fountains, streams, a palace, and a mosque, all within an imposing fortress wall, flanked by 13 massive towers. [http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1176025499729&pagename=Zone-English-ArtCulture%2FACELayout Alhambra ]
Moorish poetsWho|date=April 2008 described it as "a pearl set in emeralds," in allusion to the colour of its buildings and the woods around them. The palace complex was designed with the mountainous site in mind and many forms of technology were considered. The park (Alameda de la Alhambra), which is overgrown with wildflowers and grass in the spring, was planted by the Moors with roses, oranges and
myrtles; its most characteristic feature, however, is the dense wood of English elms brought by the Duke of Wellington in 1812. The park has a multitude nightingales and is usually filled with the sound of running water from several fountains and cascades. These are supplied through a conduit 8 km (5 miles) long, which is connected with the Darro at the monastery of Jesus del Valle, above Granada.
In spite of the long neglect, willful vandalism and sometimes ill-judged restoration which the Alhambra has endured, it remains an atypical example of Muslim art in its final European stages, relatively uninfluenced by the direct Byzantine influences found in the
Mezquitaof Córdoba. The majority of the palace buildings are, in ground-plan, quadrangular, with all the rooms opening on to a central court; and the whole reached its present size simply by the gradual addition of new quadrangles, designed on the same principle, though varying in dimensions, and connected with each other by smaller rooms and passages. Alhambra was added onto by the different Muslim rulers who lived in the complex. However, each new section that was added followed the consistent theme of "paradise on earth." Column arcades, fountains with running water, and reflecting pools were used to make add to the aesthetic and functional complexity. In every case, the exterior is left plain and austere. Sun and wind are freely admitted. Blue, red, and a golden yellow, all somewhat faded through lapse of time and exposure, are the colours chiefly employed.
The decoration consists, as a rule, of stiff, conventional foliage, Arabic inscriptions, and geometrical patterns wrought into
arabesques. Painted tiles are largely used as panelling for the walls. The palace complex is designed in the Mudéjarstyle which is characteristic of western elements reinterpreted into Islamic forms and largely popular during the Reconquista, a period of history in which the Christian kings reconquered Spain from the Muslims.
A tour of the Alhambra
The Alhambra resembles many medieval Christian strongholds in its threefold arrangement as a castle, a palace and a residential annex for subordinates. The
alcazabaor citadel, its oldest part, is built on the isolated and precipitous foreland which terminates the plateau on the northwest. That is all massive outer walls, towers and ramparts are left. On its watchtower, the "Torre de la Vela", 25 m (85 ft) high, the flag of Ferdinand and Isabella was first raised, in token of the Spanish conquest of Granada on January 2, 1492. A turret containing a large bell was added in the 18th century and restored after being damaged by lightning in 1881. Beyond the Alcazaba is the palace of the Moorish rulers, or Alhambra properly so-called; and beyond this, again, is the Alhambra Alta (Upper Alhambra), originally tenanted by officials and courtiers.
Access from the city to the Alhambra Park is afforded by the "Puerta de las Granadas" (Gate of Pomegranates), a
triumphal archdating from the 15th century. A steep ascent leads past the Pillar of Charles V, a fountain erected in 1554, to the main entrance of the Alhambra. This is the "Puerta Judiciaria" (Gate of Judgment), a massive horseshoe archway surmounted by a square tower and used by the Moors as an informal court of justice. The hand of Fatima, with fingers outstretched as a talisman against the evil eye, is carved above this gate on the exterior; a key, the symbol of authority, occupies the corresponding place on the interior. A narrow passage leads inward to the "Plaza de los Aljibes" (Place of the Cisterns), a broad open space which divides the Alcazaba from the Moorish palace. To the left of the passage rises the "Torre del Vino" (Wine Tower), built in 1345 and used in the 16th century as a cellar. On the right is the palace of Charles V, a smaller Renaissancebuilding.
The Royal Complex consists of three main parts: Mexuar, Serallo, and the Harem. The Mexuar is modest in decor and houses the functional areas for conducting business and administration. Strapwork is used to decorate the surfaces in Mexuar. The ceilings, floors, and trim are made of dark wood and are in sharp contrast to white, plaster walls. Serallo, built during the reign of Yusef I in the 14th century, contains the Patio de los Arrayanes. Brightly colored interiors featured "dado" panels, "yesería", "azulejo", cedar, and "artesonado". Artesonado are highly decorative ceilings and other woodwork. Lastly, the Harem is also elaborately decorated and contains the living quarters for the wives and mistresses of the Arabic monarchs. This area contains a bathroom with running, hot and cold water, baths, and pressurized water for showering. The bathrooms were open to the elements in order to allow in light and air. The Harem also features representations of human forms, which is forbidden under Islamic law. The Christian artisans were most likely commissioned to design artwork that would be placed in the palace and the tolerant Muslim rulers allowed the work to stay.
The present entrance to the "Palacio Árabe", or "Casa Real" (Moorish palace), is by a small door from which a corridor connects to the "Patio de los Arrayanes" (Court of the Myrtles), also called the "Patio de la Alberca" (Court of the Blessing or Court of the Pond), from the Arabic "birka", "pool". The birka helped to cool the palace and acted as a symbol of power. Because water was usually in short supply, the technology required to keep these pools full was expensive and difficult. The aim of the pools was to give the impression that the pool had mystical powers because it never evaporated, making them form a good opinion of their leader.Fact|date=April 2008 This court is 42 m (140 ft) long by 22 m (74 ft) broad; and in the centre, there is a large pond set in the marble pavement, full of goldfish, and with myrtles growing along its sides. There are galleries on the north and south sides; that on the south is 7 m (27 ft) high and supported by a marble colonnade. Underneath it, to the right, was the principal entrance, and over it are three windows with arches and miniature pillars. From this court, the walls of the "Torre de Comares" are seen rising over the roof to the north and reflected in the pond.
The "Salón de los Embajadores" (Hall of the Ambassadors) is the largest in the Alhambra and occupies all the "Torre de Comares". It is a square room, the sides being 12 m (37 ft) in length, while the centre of the dome is 23 m (75 ft) high. This was the grand reception room, and the throne of the sultan was placed opposite the entrance. It was in this setting that
Christopher Columbusreceived Isabel and Ferdinand's support to sail to the New World. The tiles are nearly 4 ft (1.2 m) high all round, and the colours vary at intervals. Over them is a series of oval medallions with inscriptions, interwoven with flowers and leaves. There are nine windows, three on each facade, and the ceiling is decorated with inlaid-work of white, blue and gold, in the shape of circles, crowns and stars. The walls are covered with varied stucco works, surrounding many ancient escutcheons.
The "Patio de los Leones" (
Court of the Lions) is an oblong court, 116 ft (35 m) in length by 66 ft (20 m) in width, surrounded by a low gallery supported on 124 white marble columns. A pavilion projects into the court at each extremity, with filigree walls and light domed roof. The square is paved with coloured tiles, and the colonnade with white marble; while the walls are covered 5 ft (1.5 m) up from the ground with blue and yellow tiles, with a border above and below enamelled blue and gold. The columns supporting the roof and gallery are irregularly placed. They are adorned by varieties of foliage, etc.; about each arch there is a large square of arabesques; and over the pillars is another square of filigree work. In the centre of the court is the Fountain of Lions, an alabaster basin supported by the figures of twelve lions in white marble, not designed with sculptural accuracy, but as symbols of strength and courage.Fact|date=April 2008
The "Sala de los Abencerrajes" (Hall of the
Abencerrages) derives its name from a legend according to which the father of Boabdil, last king of Granada, having invited the chiefs of that line to a banquet, massacred them here.Fact|date=April 2008 This room is a perfect square, with a lofty dome and trellised windows at its base. The roof is decorated in blue, brown, red and gold, and the columns supporting it spring out into the arch form in a remarkably beautiful manner. Opposite to this hall is the "Sala de las dos Hermanas" (Hall of the two Sisters), so-called from two white marble slabs laid as part of the pavement. These slabs measure 50 by 22 cm (15 by 7½ in). There is a fountain in the middle of this hall, and the roof —a dome honeycombed with tiny cells, all different, and said to number 5000— is an example of the so-called "stalactite vaulting" of the Moors.
Among the other features of the Alhambra are the "Sala de la Justicia" (Hall of Justice), the "Patio del Mexuar" (Court of the Council Chamber), the "Patio de Daraxa" (Court of the Vestibule), and the "Peinador de la Reina" (Queen's Robing Room), in which there is similar architecture and decoration. The palace and the Upper Alhambra also contain baths, ranges of bedrooms and summer-rooms, a whispering gallery and labyrinth, and vaulted sepulchres.
The original furniture of the palace is represented by the vase of the Alhambra, a specimen of Moorish ceramic art, dating from 1320 and belonging to the first period of Moorish porcelain. It is 1.3 m (4 ft 3 in) high; the ground is white, and the enamelling is blue, white and gold.
Of the outlying buildings in connection with the Alhambra, the foremost in interest is the Palacio de Generalife or Gineralife (the Muslim "Jennat al Arif", "Garden of Arif," or "Garden of the Architect"). This villa probably dates from the end of the 13th century but has been restored several times. Its gardens, however, with their clipped hedges, grottos, fountains, and cypress avenues, are said to retain their original Moorish character.Who|date=April 2008 The "Villa de los Martires" (Martyrs' Villa), on the summit of
Monte Mauror, commemorates by its name the Christian slaves who were forced to build the Alhambra and confined here in subterranean cells. The "Torres Bermejas" (Vermilion Towers), also on Monte Mauror, are a well-preserved Moorish fortification, with underground cisterns, stables, and accommodation for a garrison of 200 men. Several Roman tombs were discovered in 1829 and 1857 at the base of Monte Mauror.
Generalifeand Albayzínof Granada are listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Influence of the Alhambra
Alhambra in literature
Parts of the following novels are set in the Alhambra:
* Washington Irving's "
Tales of the Alhambra". It is a collection of essays, verbal sketches, and stories. Irving lived in the palace while writing the book and was instrumental in reintroducing the site to Western audiences.
Salman Rushdie's " The Moor's Last Sigh"
Amin Maalouf's " Leon L'Africain", depicting the reconquest of Granada by the Catholic kings.
Philippa Gregory's " The Constant Princess".
Langston Hughes's poem "Movies" in his collection " Montage of a Dream Deferred (1951)"
Federico Garcia Lorca's play " Dona Rosita the Spinster", mentioned by title character Dona Rosita in her song/speech to the Manola sisters.
Paulo Coelho's novel " The Alchemist"
Ali Smith's " The Accidental
Alhambra in music
Alhambra has directly inspired musical compositions as
Francisco Tárrega's famous tremolo study for guitar " Recuerdos de la Alhambra" (Memories of the Alhambra) [http://guitarra.artelinkado.com/sonidos/midi/tarrega/alambra1.mid] , Claude Debussy's piece for 2 pianos "Lindaraja" (composed in 1901) and the prelude "La Puerta del Vino" (in the 2nd book of preludes, composed 1912-13). [http://www.kunstderfuge.com/_/preludes_2_3_%28c%29galimberti.mid] .
"En los Jardines del Generalife", first movement of
Manuel de Falla's " Noches en los Jardines de España", and other pieces by composers such as Ruperto Chapí(Los Gnomos de la Alhambra,1891) Tomás Bretón[ [http://guitarra.artelinkado.com/guitarra/capricho_arabe.htm Noche de paz ] ] and many others are included in a stream called by scholars "Alhambrismo". [ [http://cvc.cervantes.es/el_rinconete/anteriores/septiembre_00/07092000_02.htm CVC. Rinconete. Acordes ] ] [ [http://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/articulo?codigo=618223 El alhambrismo en la música española hasta la época de Manuel de Falla - Dialnet ] ]
In pop and folk music, Alhambra is the subject of the
Ghymessong of the same name.Fact|date=April 2008 The rock band, The Grateful Dead, released a song called Terrapin Station on the 1977 album of the same name. The song itself was a series of small compositions penned by Robert Hunter and put to music by Jerry Garcia, a lyrical section of this Terrapin Station "suite" was called Alhambra.
In September 2006, Canadian singer/composer
Loreena McKennittperformed live at the Alhambra. The resulting footage premiered on PBS and was later released as a three-disc DVD/CD set entitled "Nights from the Alhambra".
"Alhambra" is the title of an EP by Canadian rock band
The Tea Party, containing acoustic versions of a few of their songs.Fact|date=April 2008
British composer Julian Anderson's "Alhambra Fantasy" (1999–2000), commissioned by the London Sinfonietta, was influenced by the architecture of the Alhambra Palace. In two sharply contrasting sections the work relates different facets of the Alhambra – the first, rough and energetic, is related to the building of the Palace itselfFact|date=April 2008, dominated by the sounds of hammering and banging on percussion. Short counterpointed and juxtaposed motifs create, for some, the impression of a mosaicFact|date=April 2008. The second section evokes the beautiful landscape of the VegaFact|date=April 2008. The composer is careful to point outFact|date=April 2008 that he has not written programmatic music, although his concern is with the splendour of the palace itself, its place in the landscape and its relevance to the complex and turbulent history of the region.
In 1976, filmmaker Christopher Nupen filmed "The Song of the Guitar" at the Alhambra. It was an hour long program featuring the legendary Spanish guitarist
Andres Segovia. It is now available on DVD.
Influence in graphic art
M. C. Escher's visit in 1922 inspired his following work on regular divisions of the plane after studying the Moorish use of symmetry in the Alhambra tiles.
Influence in 19th- and 20th-century architecture
From 19th-century Romantic interpretations until the present day, many buildings and portions of buildings worldwide have been inspired by the Alhambra: there is a Moorish Revival house in
Stillwater, Minnesotawhich was created and named after the Alhambra. Also, the main portion of the Irvine Spectrum Centerin Irvine, California, is a postmodern version of the Court of the Lions.
One also recalls the Alhambra Theatre in central
Bradford, England[http://www.bradford-theatres.co.uk/alhambra_2.asp] .
Court of the Lions
* Irwin, Robert. "The Alhambra". Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2004.
* Grabar, Oleg. "The Alhambra". Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1978.
* Jacobs, Michael and Francisco Fernandez. "Alhambra". New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 2000.
* Lowney, Chris. "A Vanished World: Medieval Spain’s Golden Age of Enlightenment". New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 2005.
* Menocal, Maria, Rosa. "The Ornament of the World". Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 2002.
* Read, Jan. "The Moors in Spain and Portugal". Great Britain: Faber and Faber Limited, 1974.
* Steves, Rick (2004). "Spain and Portugal 2004", pp. 204–205. Avalon Travel Publishing. ISBN 1-56691-529-5.
* [http://www.alhambradegranada.org/default_en.asp www.AlhambraDeGranada.org]
* [http://www.fotosalhambra.es Photos of the Alhambra]
* [http://www.alhambra.org/eng/index.asp?secc=/inicio&popup=1 www.alhambra.org]
* [http://www.alhambragranada.info/en/ www.AlhambraGranada.info]
* [http://www.alhambra.info/indexeng.htm www.alhambra.info]
* [http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=-5737979011492845533&hl=en-GB] — BBC Four documentary on art in Islamic Spain
* [http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1176025499729&pagename=Zone-English-ArtCulture%2FACELayout Alhambra]
* [http://www.alhambradegranada.org.es/index.html Pictures of the Alhambra and views from the viewpoint of San Nicolas]
* [http://www.turgranada.es/cultural-monumental/cultural-monumental-nivel3.php?id_seccion=509&tipo=secciones&id_idioma=2 Alhambra in turgranada.es] Official site for tourism of the province of Granada
* [http://www.guiasgranada.com/eng/index.asp?secc=/inicio Alhambra Official Guides]
* [http://www.alhambra-tickets.es Alhambra tickets]
* [http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/gallery.php?gid=113 Photos of Alhambra]
* [http://www.islamicarchitecture.org/architecture/palaces/thealhambra.html Alhambra Architectural Review]
* [http://www.greatbuildings.com/buildings/The_Alhambra.html Photos and text]
* [http://www.gardenvisit.com/ge/alham.htm Alhambra - information on garden history and design]
* [http://www.hotels-spain-accommodation.com/andalucia/granada/alhambra/ Detailed study with photos of the Alhambra Granada]
* [http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ie=UTF8&z=17&ll=37.176578,-3.588538&spn=0.003881,0.010815&t=k&om=1 Google maps satellite image]
* [http://www.erasmuspc.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=161&Itemid=81 Article with English translations of the poems on the walls of Alhambra] *
*cite web |publisher=
Victoria and Albert Museum
title= The Alhambra
* [http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/i/irving/washington/i72a/ Washington Irving's "Tales of the Alhambra"]
* [http://www.andaluciacoastandcountry.com/alhambra-tickets.html Information on the Alhambra tickets procedure]
* [http://www.360travelguide.com/360VirtualTour.asp?iCode=sol31 Panoramic virtual tour of Alhambra]
* [http://www.costatropicalnews.com English language magazine for the region]
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