The construction of the Carlos V Palace was a consequence of the need to have a place with all the comforts of that time for the Emperor and his family, since the "Alcazar", which was his summer residence, did not cover his needs.
The Emperor ordered the construction of the palace near the Alhambra so he could enjoy its wonders. The architect in charge of the construction was "Pedro Machuca", who loved the Renaissance style and was an experienced architect. The works, that started in 1527 and finished in 1957, went through different stages, lack of money, revolts that stopped the construction, etc. The ceilings sank due to abandonment.
The palace has a square shape, the main façade is 63 meters wide by 17 meters high. It is remarkable its circular courtyard in the middle of the building, which is unique in its style and it is the most important work of the Renaissance style in Spain. Only the south and west façades are completely decorated. The north and east façades are partially decorated, due to the fact that the building is joined to the "Alcazar" of the Alhambra.
Being the Emperor Carlos V ruler of America, he took his court to the royal houses at the Alhambra, to spend there the summer of 1526. At that moment, the Emperor desired to make of Granada one of his residence places. For that purpose he ordered the construction of another palace, with more comforts and more space than the Arab, but connected to this one, so he could continue enjoying it. Therefore he continued the works of his grandparents, the Catholic Kings, and the desire to convert this palace into the great aulic center of the Empire. This way, they built one of the best Renaissance works, outside Italy, and the first great royal palace of the Spanish monarchs.
"D. Luis Hurtado de Mendoza" was the person who looked for the economical sources to pay for the construction of this project: the taxes the Moorish had to pay in exchange for keeping some of their traditions. Some time later, they had to find the resources elsewhere, from the "Alcazar" of Seville and from the sugar-factory of Granada. "Pedro Machuca" (architect and artist from Toledo) was in charge of the construction, in 1527, of the palace. This architect had learned his trade in Italy with "Miguel Angel", and this was the main project of his career. After his death, June 4th 1550, the project continued under the supervision of several architects, some as important as "Juan de Orea" who did the construction of the Cathedral of Granada, or "Juan de Minjares", assistant architect in charge of the palaces of "Aranjuez" and the "Escorial".
The building, cut-stone-made, has a square shape and it is 63 meters long by 17,40 meters high at the main façades, with an inscribed circular shaped courtyard in its interior, which resulted in a different, strange and unique floor plan (never before such a building had been constructed), of very difficult use. The palace is connected to the Arab "Alcazar", therefore only the south and west façades are completely decorated, partially the north and only half of the east one. The building consists of two bodies: the lower one of the Tuscan order, with cushioned walls and prominent pilasters with big bronze rings inserted in them to tie up the horses. In the spaces between the pilasters, rectangular windows open and over them round windows (recently closed with glass panels) are placed.
The second body has a similar layout of the openings and the pilasters, although it is a lot more decorated and adorned. At this second body, under the round windows there are balconies with embellished lintels. The Corinthian entablature is supported by Ionic pilasters.
The central part of the two main façades is occupied by magnificent marble doorways (marble from "Sierra Elvira"), which are the most beautiful elements of the Renaissance in Spain. The front façade facing the "Justicia" Tower has its lower body of the Ionic order; the pedestals that are extended to the sides to support two lying lions have at their dados: bass-reliefs with battle trophies, Romans, Arabs, Turkish and Christians. The door has a cornice and a pediment with reliefs of "Abundance" at its tympanum, and on top of it winged figures of "Fame" and "Victory", offering crowns to the winner and accompanied by small geniuses. The second body of the Corinthian order has double columns supported on pedestals with embossments that conform a balcony.
The west façade, considered the main entrance of the Palace, is of the Doric order and has four groups of double fluted columns, with richly decorated bases and capitals (at left: a picture of one of the bass-relief of the pedestals). In between the columns three doors open; a big central door which serves as a support for the statue of a woman holding with one hand a symbolic pomegranate and extending the other one like offering the Palace to the Emperor. The other two doors are smaller and have their corbels adorned with groups of fruit and their tympanums adorned with medallions. Over these doors we can see medallions framed with serpentine stone.
The east façade (facing the church of "Santa Maria" of the Alhambra) has at the center a door that has, carved on its lintel, an inscription: «Imp. Caes. Karolo V». Another similar door is situated at the north façade facing the actual entrance of the Arab "Alcazar". Through this door we enter the underground rooms.
The courtyard, elevated, is one of the most beautiful constructions of the Renaissance. Its wide circle, with a 30 meters diameter, occupies the center of the building and it is surrounded by a wide porticoe that has 32 stone-made (stone "pudinga del Turro - Loja) Doric columns. These correspond with pilasters that decorated the wall of the cloister, with arches, niches and doors between them, to communicate with the different rooms of the building. The upper floor has the same layout, with Ionic columns supporting an stone-made entablature (stone from "Elvira").
You do not need a ticket to visit the Palace of Carlos V, since this building stays open the same hours as the Alhambra and it is free.
The Fine Arts Museum offers a free entrance for the citizens of the E.U.. you only have to show your passport, DNI, etc. The fare for the rest of the people is 1,5 €. The Museum of the Alhambra offers a free entrance for all visitors.