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History of the Alhambra

In this article you will discover the fascinating history of the Alhambra, who built it, when it was built, and its significance.

History of the Alhambra: the Jewel of Andalusian Architecture

The Alhambra is a jewel of Andalusian architecture located in the city of Granada, in southern Spain. It was built during the Nasrid period, the last Muslim dynasty to rule in the Iberian Peninsula.

The construction of the Alhambra began in the 13th century under the mandate of Emir Muhammad I and continued with the expansions and renovations carried out by his successors. The architectural complex consists of a fortress, a palace, and a citadel, surrounded by walls and towers.

The Alhambra became the center of Nasrid power and a place of great strategic importance. During its peak, the citadel was populated by more than 2,000 people and had a mosque, a market, a bath, and a residential area.

The Alhambra was conquered by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492, after which it became the residence of the Christian monarchs, and numerous renovations and expansions were carried out. During the 18th century, the architectural complex of the Alhambra began to deteriorate, and a major restoration was carried out in the 19th century.

Today, the Alhambra is one of the main tourist attractions in Spain and is considered one of the masterpieces of Andalusian architecture. In addition, it has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and has been recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Alhambra: Significance

The word “Alhambra” comes from the Arabic “al-Ḥamrā,” which means “the Red One.” This name is due to the reddish hue of the walls and towers that make up the fortress.

The name may also be related to the fact that the color red symbolized good luck in Muslim culture and was frequently used in the decoration of palaces and religious buildings. In addition, the color red is also associated with fire and heat, suggesting that the fortress was a place of power and protection.

There is another theory about the origin of the name of the Alhambra that is related to its founder, Muhammad I, known as Alhamar. According to this theory, the name Alhambra comes from the combination of “Alhamar” with the Arabic word “al-Qasr,” which means “the palace.”

This theory suggests that the fortress and the palace were built on the orders of Alhamar, and therefore, the fortress would have been known as “Qasr al-Hamra” or “Palace of Alhamar.” Over time, the name would have been simplified to “Alhambra.”

Although this theory is not as widely

 

The word “Alhambra” comes from the Arabic “al-Ḥamrā,” which means “the Red One.” This name is due to the reddish hue of the walls and towers that make up the fortress.

The name may also be related to the fact that the color red symbolized good luck in Muslim culture and was frequently used in the decoration of palaces and religious buildings. In addition, the color red is also associated with fire and heat, suggesting that the fortress was a place of power and protection.

There is another theory about the origin of the name of the Alhambra that is related to its founder, Muhammad I, known as Alhamar. According to this theory, the name Alhambra comes from the combination of “Alhamar” with the Arabic word “al-Qasr,” which means “the palace.”

This theory suggests that the fortress and the palace were built on the orders of Alhamar, and therefore, the fortress would have been known as “Qasr al-Hamra” or “Palace of Alhamar.” Over time, the name would have been simplified to “Alhambra.”

Although this theory is not as widely

 

The transformation of the Alhambra into a royal residence in the 15th century

After the Catholic Monarchs conquered Granada in 1492, the Alhambra became a royal residence for Spanish monarchs. The Catholic Monarchs ordered the construction of new buildings within the fortress and adapted it to their needs as a palace.

 

During the 16th and 17th centuries, the Alhambra underwent various reforms and expansions by Spanish monarchs. In the 16th century, Emperor Charles V ordered the construction of a Renaissance palace within the Alhambra, known as the Palace of Charles V.

 

In the 17th century, the Alhambra suffered some damage as a result of an earthquake and was repaired and restored. During this period, new gardens were constructed, and improvements were made to the decoration and furnishings of the fortress.

 

Throughout the centuries, the Alhambra has been used as a royal residence, military fortress, prison, and museum. Today, it is one of the main tourist attractions in Spain and receives millions of visitors each year. The Alhambra is considered one of the architectural jewels of Islamic art and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984, so if you’re planning to visit, don’t forget to take a look at our best tips for going to the Alhambra.

 

Alhambra: Architectural Style

The Alhambra is a masterpiece of Islamic architecture, and its architectural style is considered a unique combination of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish elements. The architectural style of the Alhambra is known as Nasrid art, which is characterized by rich ornamentation, geometry, patterns, and bright colors.

 

The architecture of the Alhambra is an example of Islamic architecture of the Nasrid era. Horseshoe arches, vaults, domes, columns, and geometric decorations are common elements in Islamic architecture and can be found throughout the Alhambra.

 

The decoration of the Alhambra is also very characteristic of Nasrid style. Ceramic mosaics, plaster reliefs, and wood carving are some of the most common decorative elements in the Alhambra. The decoration also includes verses from the Quran, calligraphy, and vegetal motifs.

 

Another important aspect of the architectural style of the Alhambra is its integration with nature. The Alhambra is surrounded by gardens and fountains, and many of the courtyards and rooms of the Alhambra are designed to make the most of natural light and fresh air.

 

In summary, the architectural style of the Alhambra is characterized by the integration of Islamic, Christian, and Jewish elements, rich ornamentation, geometric patterns, bright colors, and integration with nature. All of this makes the Alhambra an exceptional example of Islamic architecture and a treasure of Spanish history and culture.

 

The Nasrid Palaces: An Example of Islamic Architecture

The Nasrid Palaces are a group of palaces built during the Nasrid dynasty in the Alhambra of Granada, Spain. These palaces are an excellent example of Islamic architecture and the Nasrid style in particular.

The Nasrid Palaces were built in the 14th century during the reigns of Yusuf I and Muhammad V and were used as the residence of the Nasrid monarchs until the Christian conquest of Granada in 1492. The palace complex consists of three main parts: the Mexuar, the Palace of Comares, and the Palace of the Lions.

The Mexuar is the oldest part of the palaces and was built as an audience hall and council chamber. The Mexuar features a more austere architectural style and is an example of the Almohad architecture that predates the Nasrid dynasty.

The Palace of Comares is the largest of the three palaces and was built as a royal residence. It is a prominent example of the Nasrid style and features a large amount of geometric and calligraphic decoration, as well as an impressive audience hall with a wooden coffered ceiling.

The Palace of the Lions is perhaps the most famous of the three palaces and was built as a private retreat for the sultan. The palace features an impressive central courtyard with a decorative marble fountain, and is surrounded by a series of richly decorated rooms with details of carved wood and ceramic mosaics.

Overall, the Nasrid Palaces are an excellent example of Islamic architecture and the Nasrid style in particular. The combination of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish elements in the decoration, as well as the integration of the buildings with the surrounding nature, make the Nasrid Palaces a masterpiece of architecture and one of the most visited attractions of the Alhambra.

 

The courtyards and gardens of the Alhambra: an oasis of peace and beauty

The Alhambra is a palace-fortress complex located in the city of Granada in southern Spain. The courtyards and gardens of the Alhambra are known for their beauty and their ability to provide an oasis of peace and tranquility in the midst of the city’s hustle and bustle.

One of the most famous courtyards of the Alhambra is the Court of the Lions, which features a central fountain surrounded by twelve lions carved in white marble. This courtyard is an example of Islamic architecture and design and was built during the reign of the Nasrid Sultan Muhammad V in the 14th century.

Another notable courtyard of the Alhambra is the Court of the Water Channel, which features a series of ponds and channels used to irrigate the surrounding gardens. This courtyard offers an impressive view of the city of Granada and the surrounding mountains.

In addition to the courtyards, the gardens of the Alhambra are also a wonder to behold. The Generalife, located on the hills behind the Alhambra, features several formal gardens, ponds, and fountains, as well as an outdoor amphitheater. The gardens of the Partal, located next to the Alhambra, are another example of the beauty and serenity that can be found in the gardens of the Alhambra.

In summary, the courtyards and gardens of the Alhambra are an architectural and botanical treasure that offers an unforgettable experience for those who visit Granada. The combination of architecture and landscaping, as well as the tranquility they offer, make these courtyards and gardens a true oasis of peace and beauty in the heart of the city.

 

The fortifications of the Alhambra: Alcazaba, defense, and combined elegance.

The Alhambra is a palace complex and fortress located in Granada, Spain, built during the Muslim domination of the Iberian Peninsula. The fortifications of the Alhambra are an important part of its architecture and design, and served an essential function during its period of splendor.

The Alcazaba is the oldest part of the Alhambra, built in the 13th century as a fortress to protect the city of Granada. It is located at the highest point of the hill and has towers and walls that offer impressive views of the city and the surrounding area. The Alcazaba was also the place where the rulers of the Nasrid dynasty, who governed Granada during the Muslim period, lived.

The defense of the Alhambra is completed by a series of walls and towers that surround the entire complex. These fortifications were designed to protect the citadel from any possible invasion, and are a testament to the skill of Muslim architects and builders in the design of defensive structures. Additionally, these walls were also important from a symbolic point of view, as they represented the power and authority of the rulers of the time.

However, despite their defensive function, the fortifications of the Alhambra also stand out for their elegance and beauty. The towers and walls are carefully decorated with geometric, plant, and calligraphic motifs, and the materials used in their construction, such as brick and stone, are combined harmoniously. Additionally, the presence of gardens and fountains inside the walls adds a touch of freshness and tranquility to the defensive areas.

In summary, the fortifications of the Alhambra are an exceptional example of the defensive and decorative architecture of the Muslim period in Spain. Their beauty and elegance are a reflection of the skill and creativity of Muslim architects and builders, and their defensive function is a testimony to the strategic and symbolic importance of the Alhambra during its period of splendor.

 

The Alhambra after the Reconquista: its role in the history of Spain

After the Reconquista of Granada in 1492, the Alhambra became the property of the Catholic Monarchs, who turned it into a royal residence and made some modifications and additions to it. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the Alhambra remained in use as a royal residence by the Spanish monarchs, although it gradually lost importance in favor of the Royal Palace of Madrid.

During the War of Independence (1808-1814), the Alhambra suffered some damage at the hands of French troops who occupied Granada. In the late 19th century, the Alhambra became an important tourist destination and began to be restored and preserved as cultural heritage. In 1984, the Alhambra was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Today, the Alhambra is one of the most visited monuments in Spain and an important tourist attraction, as well as a significant symbol of Andalusian history and culture. In addition to being a magnificent example of Islamic architecture, the Alhambra is a demonstration of the rich history of Spain and its role in the evolution of European culture.

 

The Alhambra today: historic monument and tourist attraction

Today, the Alhambra is one of the most important historic monuments in Spain and a very popular tourist attraction worldwide. Its impressive architecture and rich history make it a must-visit place in Granada.

The Alhambra has a large number of areas and parts to explore, including the Nasrid Palaces, the Alcazaba of Granada, and the Medina of the Alhambra. Additionally, its location on the hill of La Sabika offers stunning views of the city of Granada and the surrounding mountains.

For those interested in the history of the Alhambra, there is a wealth of information available about its construction, architectural features, and its role in the history of Granada and Spain. 

Keep in mind that at Discovering Spain, we provide an extraordinary excursion to the Alhambra from Malaga.

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