Kings Room - Alhambra

Brief description of the monument

It occupies the entire eastern side of the courtyard. Named for the painting that occupies the vault of the central room. It is the longest room in the Harem, divided into 3 equal rooms and two small rooms that could be closets, due to its location and lack of lighting. Probably intended for family parties.

Monument history

This room is called the Kings because of the theme of a painting that we can see in the central dome. It was also called Justice and the Court from the 18th century. It is accessed from the head of the Patio de los Leones through three porticoes with triple arches of mocarabes and decorated with openwork rhombuses, supported by fine columns. By its arrangement, the room is divided into seven parts: three square rooms, separated by two rectangular sections and alcoves at the ends. In the square rooms you can see mocarabic domes and you can access the rectangular sections that separate them through double arches, sections that also have mocarabic vaults, as do the alcoves. All this distribution and decorations enhance the light that penetrates the room, in which the heaviness of the arches is contrasted with the delicate ornamentation of its walls, composed of inscriptions, as well as a tiled socket that surrounded the room, from which only two fragments remain.

The paintings presented by the room are in three wooden domes in the shape of an ellipse, and lined with leather. The painting of the center represents the first ten kings of the Nasrid dynasty (except for the usurpers Ismail I and Mohamed VI, the Bermejo). The ones in the side vaults show us chivalrous (mainly hunting) and romantic scenes, and possibly tell legends or adventures of Muslim kings. Despite this, the paintings are clearly Christian, which is evident in the representation of Muslim themes, much more clumsy and inaccurate than that of Christians. According to the clues given by the painting of the kings, they could correspond to the reigns of Mohamed VII (1395-1410) or Yusuf III (1410-1424).

The vault of the Hall of the Kings. The Toledo workshop in its projection towards Andalusia offers us one of the most unique examples of Gothic painting of the fifteenth century in leather paintings that cover the three false vaults of the Hall of the Kings of the Alhambra in Granada. In them we see a rich iconography of profane character, of difficult interpretation, with chivalrous inspiration in the literature of the time, without forgetting contacts with the decorative arts, where themes of courteous love, hunting and play are combined with fantastic and symbolic elements, in which the Islamic aesthetic meets the Christian. The style, with enough memories of the linear Gothic in the abundant use of the line and the gold, also responds to the characters of the Trecento: in the features of the figures, the concern for the volume, as well as in some clothing that evidences Florentine notes . The set is undoubtedly due to knowledgeable Christian artists from the Muslim world, where Italian and Islamic aesthetics are mixed, highlighting the influence of the Toledo workshop as the basis of the friendship between Don Pedro I of Castile and Muhammad V of Granada for those years.

However, the work offers a whole series of questions, both in relation to the identity of the artist and the client and around the iconographic interpretation. In the central vault, arranged symmetrically around its oval space and conversing with each other, there are ten Muslim figures, sitting on cushions, luxuriously dressed, standing out on a golden background, with a decoration of stars on its axis; at their ends there are two shields of the Order of the Band with heads of serpents and lions guarding them.

The identification of the ten characters offers different interpretations: for some it will be the representation of the kings of Granada (Gómez Moreno); others think that it is an Arab council (Contreras); a third position points towards characters from the Granada aristocracy or fantastic warriors, surprised at the moment they are invested in the Band Order. The theme of the side vaults, difficult to interpret at the moment, includes a tale of chivalrous sign in which a Christian and a Muslim seem to dispute the love of a lady. The story that begins in the left vault has its outcome in the right.