Explore the Alhambra
From the Arabic for ‘castles of red’, this stunning Moorish palace sits on top of a hill and dominates the skyline of a particularly beautiful part of Spain’s Andalusia. It is testament to the achievements of the Arabs who once ruled over this land, although it has changed much since its construction due mainly to the Christian conquest of 1492.
When it was constructed in 889, the Alhambra replaced Roman fortifications but it was soon neglected and left to rot for many decades. It was the emir Muhammad ibn al-ahmar who decided to bring it back to life in the 13th century after he had established the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada in 1230. His arrival heralded 200 years of economic and cultural prosperity and the Alhambra came to reflect such cross-wealth.
Indeed, the Alhambra continued to evolve. Yusuf I, the seventh Nasrid ruler, turned it into a royal palace in 1333 and, 15 years later, he commissioned the construction of its imposing, arched entrance, the Puerta de la Justicia, or Gate of Justice. Together with his father Ismail I and son Muhammad V, Yusuf developed the Palacio Nazaries, the Nazareth Palaces complex. It was a strong seat of power in Europe, also proving elaborate, elegant and ornate.
Muhammad XIII, also known as Boabdill, was the last Nasrid emir to enjoy it. He surrendered what had become a citadel of defensive towers and high walls to the Christian Spanish kingdoms of Aragon and Castile. It allowed Spanish royals Ferdinand and Isabella to turn it in their Royal Court and, from that moment on, it was fashioned in a Renaissance style.
With many Muslims having moved to Africa, more buildings were constructed including a church, a Franciscan Monastery and homes.
The building of the Palace of Charles V in 1527 also got underway, adopting a Mannerist style, although it never became home to a monarch and it was without a roof for some 430 years. Today the Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.