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Review: Alhambra

Attraction - Historic house or stately home

Granada, Spain

The Alhambra - The Nasrid palaces

  • By SilverTraveller ESW

    2513 reviews

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  • November 2016
  • Solo

156 people found this review helpful

The Alhambra is one of the ‘must See’ sites of Spain. There is so much to see and take in, so to make my review manageable, I’ve broken it down into four parts. Other reviews cover visiting and some history, , the"Alcazaba":http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/otherholidays/spain/alhambra/alhambra_two/index.html and Palace of Charles V.

The Nasrid palaces are what everyone thinks of when the Alhambra is mentioned. There are three palaces which were built by the Nasrid rulers during the C14th when they moved out of the Alcazaba into more comfortable accommodation. They were built to impress and are some of the best Moorish architecture to survive anywhere. The exterior is quite plain, giving no indication of the riches inside.

The Mexuar was the first palace to be built by Ismail I at the start of the C14th. This became the semi public part of the palaces administering justice and controlling state affairs. It was partially destroyed by Yusuf II when he built the Comares Palace behind it in the mid C14th. This became the official residence of the ruler. The Palace of the Lions was added to this at the end of the C14th by Muhammad V and was the private area where the harem was and included the Royal baths.

The Mexuar is reached down a short passageway which leads into the Hall of the Mexuar. This was the place the Sura or Council of Ministers met and justice was meted out. It is a splendid space with four tall wooden columns, colourful tiling round the bottom of the walls and elaborately carved plaster. The lovely wood ceiling was inserted by by the Christian Monarchs, replacing a lantern ceiling and glass dome. At the far end is a beautiful carved plaster oratory.

This leads into the Court of the Mexuar with the Golden Room set behind a three arched portico of elaborately carved pillars. Its name comes from the wood roof which was decorated with gold leaf during the time of the Catholic Monarchs. Again there is more carved plaster work on the walls.

There is a small fountain in the courtyard which is overlooked by the walls of the Comares Palace. This is the most important palace in the Alhambra. Not only was it the residence of the Sultan, the throne room or Hall of Ambassadors was here. His four wives and children lived in the upper apartments around the courtyard, reached through doorways off the courtyard.

At the centre is the Courtyard of the Myrtles with a large pool which reflects the buildings around it. This must be the most photographed part of the Alhambra.

Off it at one end is the Hall of the Ambassadors, the largest room in the palace. This was built to impress with its decorative tiles round the bottom of the walls and plaster work above, which would have been brightly coloured. The floor was originally covered with white and blue glazed tiles. A small area survives in the centre of the room.

The wood roof is made of thousands of tiny pieced of wood. The four sides of the triangles represent the four rivers of Paradise. The seven crowns of stars represent the seven heavens a soul must pass before reaching Paradise.

Beyond is the Palace of the Lions, getting its name from the lion fountain in the central courtyard. Round the edge is a porticoed gallery of 124 marble columns, with the private living quarters off.

The Hall of the Abencerrages has the most wonderful ceiling in the form of an eight pointed star decorated with what can best be described as a honeycomb pattern, with small windows round the base. This is often described as ‘stalactite vaulting’.

Next to it is the Sala de los Reyes, the Hall of the Kings, entered through a three arched portico. It was a long room, subdivided by pillars and arches. Above each is another splendid ceiling.

Opposite the Hall of the Abencerrages, is the Hall of the Two Sisters which is very similar in style to it. In the floor is a small circular fountain with water channels running out into the courtyard. At the far end is the Lindaraja Balcony with views over the Court of Lindaraja and the rooms used by Ferdinand and Isabella.

I visited here as part of a ‘Flavours of Spain’ holiday arranged with Solos Holidays.

My detailed trip report with all my pictures is
here.

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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