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Granada The Alhambra

Nov 24, 2007
The Arabic 'Qa'lat al'Hamra' gives the Alhambra its name, meaning 'red castle/palace' and on seeing the Alhambra you will understand why; the walls themselves have a distinctive red color due to the color of the local clay from which the Alhambra was made.

The precise dating of the original building is difficult, however a reference to it dates from the 9th century in relation to Sawwar ben Hamdun who fled to a fortress called 'Alcazaba' which had endured considerable damage during the civil unrest under the Caliphate of Cordoba. This fortress was relatively small and required much work, it became the Alhambra.

The Alhambra became a part of the city of Granada at this time, bec0ming a military point of protection for the whole city explaining its positioning a little distanced from the town. Its role as a military facility continued for 400years, and only under the Nasrid dynasty and Mohammed ben Al-Hamar did the Alhambra of Granada become a royal residence, bringing with it a period of prosperity the like of which had been previously unseen by Granada. It was at this stage that the fortress itself underwent the first of a number of expansion projects which were to turn it into the sprawling beauty that can be seen today. The Torre de la Vela, or Watch Tower, and the Torre del Homenaje, the Keep, were added at this time, and it was also at this point that a water system was developed, the palace itself was started and ramparts were begun. It was now, in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth century that the mosque and pubic baths were added to the city, and the building work of this period can still be seen today, nearly 700 years on.

Under Christian rule Granada, and the Alhambra did not fare so well, with Charles V destroying part of it, and it lying abandoned from the 18th century. It was only in the nineteenth century that attention was returned to the Alhambra and the long process of restoration was undergone in order to bring the building to its full glory as seen today.

The Alhambra is a model of the possibilities for architecture and art. For the various builders, architects, designers, and restorers, its walls, ceilings, floors, and doorways were nothing more than canvases to make beautiful. The majority of the archways serve no structural purpose what so ever but rather are simply there to enhance the beauty of the building; the walls with their plasterwork, ceramics, and carvings, leave no one in any doubt as to why this is one of the most visited sites in Europe. One of the highlights of the Alhambra is the calligraphic representation of the words of Zawi ben Ziri, the founder of the Nasrid Dynasty, and other poets painted on the walls in a uniquely Muslim style of art. The Alhambra Columns also deserve special attention, as they are unique to this building, as this building is unique to the world.

The Alhambra is reachable from the city centre by foot, bus or private car and is open in the winter from 8.30am-6pm and some evenings from 8pm-9.30pm, in the summer from 8.30am-8pm and some evenings from 9pm-10.30pm. There are a number of hotel and holiday accommodation options in the area.
About the Author
Gaizka Pujana is the owner and manager of Get Ready Rentals. The short term holiday accommodation specialists worldwide. appartement granada
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