Calle Real de la Alhambra, s/n, Granada

Free Walking Tour of Granada

The Alhambra is a monumental complex on the site of an Andalusian palatine city located in Granada. It consists of a complex of ancient palaces, gardens and a fortress initially designed to house the emir and the court of the Nasrid Kingdom, later to serve as a royal residence for the Castilians and their representatives. Its artistic uniqueness lies in the interiors of the Nasrid palaces, whose decoration is among the best in Andalusian art, as well as in its location and adaptation, generating a new landscape but totally integrated with the pre-existing nature. It also houses a museum of Andalusian art, the city's main art gallery and a former convent that has been converted into a Parador hotel.

The complex is managed by the institution Patronato de la Alhambra y el Generalife. In 2016 it was reported to be the second most visited site in Spain, after the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

The Alhambra was built on the Sabika hill, one of the highest points in the city of Gharnata. This location sought a strategic defensive situation and at the same time to convey a clear symbol, where the summit of power is very perceptible to the rest of the city, a location chosen to be contemplated.

The Sabika hill had already been occupied before, at least since Roman times, and the first written references to a military site in the area date back to the year 666. Thus there is evidence of the settlements of Iliberis (Elvira), in the Albaicín and Alcazaba, Castilia, near the present-day village of Atarfe, and Garnata on the hill opposite the Alcazaba as a district of Iliberis in the region, and in 756 the settlements of El Albaicín and the Alhambra. The extension of the hill allowed the complex to be built, occupying some 740 m in length and between 180 m and 40 m in width.

After the death of Alhaken II, the third Umayyad caliph, in 976, the political history of the Umayyad caliphate became a series of setbacks. Christian reconquest became the dominant impulse within the peninsula. In this context, Gharnata's transformation from a small town to a city of some importance occurred in the early 11th century, when the Berber dynasty of the Zirids formed a semi-independent principality. Under the three rulers Habus, Badis and Abdallah (1025-1090) the town increased in population.

Buildings were concentrated on the Alcazaba hill and its immediate surroundings. The most important event for the formation of the Alhambra is the construction by the vizier Yusuf ibn Nagrela of a fortress-palace on Sabika Hill. A poem by Ibn Gabirol seems to indicate that the lions of the Fountain of the Lions were originally in the palace of this Jewish vizier. There may have been other purely military constructions on the Alhambra hill during the Zirid period, but it is difficult to distinguish them precisely.

The year 1238 marked a second turning point. Muhammad ibn Nasr took the city. The paradox of Nasrid Granada lies in the fact that a decadent, indeed moribund, political and military power coincided with an original and surprisingly rich culture. The Alhambra was created in a politically unstable and economically prosperous world. Thus Muhammad accepted a vassalage relationship with the crown of Castile, and so entered through the Elvira Gate to occupy the palace of the Cock of the Wind (the old Alhambra), Muhammad-Ben-Nazar (or Nasr), called Al-Hamar the Red because of the colour of his beard.

Ben-Al-Hamar built the first core of the palace, which was later fortified by his son Muhammad II. The outer walls and aqueduct were probably completed at the end of the 13th century. The gardens and pavilions of the Generalife seem to date from the reign of Isma'il (1314-1325). But the most important parts of the Alhambra (the complex of the Court of the Myrtles and the Court of the Lions) date from the time of Yusuf I (1333-54) and Muhammad V. This Granada style is the culmination of Andalusian art. After three centuries of activity, the three sectors of the Alhambra are clearly differentiated: the citadel, the urban fabric and the palaces.

The conquest of Granada by the Catholic Monarchs ended in 1492. Hernando del Pulgar, a chronicler of the period, recounts: "The Count of Tendilla and the Comendador Mayor de León, Gutierre de Cárdenas, received the keys of Granada from Ferdinand the Catholic, entered the Alhambra and raised the cross and the flag on top of the Comares Tower". The Alhambra thus became the citadel and royal palace of the Christian kings and the complex continued to develop, with the addition of the convent of San Francisco in 1494, the palace of Charles V in 1527 and the church of Santa María de la Encarnación de la Alhambra in 1581.

Article obtained from Wikipedia article Wikipedia in his version of 02/09/2020, by various authors under the license Licencia de Documentación Libre GNU.