Royal Palace - Alhambra

Brief description of the monument

It is a group of small mansions with a series of surrounding structures that were born from a purely transitory and ornamental need. Since the 16th century, these Nasrid fortresses have been designated as Old Royal Houses to distinguish them from Christian buildings.

In this area are:

  • Mexuar: Hall, Oratory, Golden Room and Patio.
  • Palace of Comares: Patio de los Arrayanes, Hall of the Boat, Hall of Ambassadors.
  • Palace of the Lions: Hall of the Mocárabes, Patio, Hall of the Abencerrajes, Hall of the Kings, Hall of Two Sisters.
  • Emperor's Rooms: Viewpoint, Patio de la Reja, Jardin de Lindaraja.

Monument history

The grounds of the Royal Palace are divided into three independent zones:
El Mexuar, where the administration of justice and the office of State affairs was carried out. There was an elevated chamber, closed by lattices, where the Sultan sat to listen to the demands of the citizens without being seen. At the bottom of the room there is an Oratory, a small room facing Mecca, richly ornamented with plasterwork and from where you can see the Albayzín.

After the conquest, the Catholic Monarchs sent to modify the interior of this room, turning it into a chapel from which the choir balustrade can still be seen.

The exterior of its walls has undergone so many modifications that it is impossible to know how it was originally. This administrative area is preceded by two courtyards, the first of which remains the remains of a small mosque with its minaret, while the second known as Patio de Machuca, houses the tower of the same name.

The set was used as a residence for the architects who dedicated their lives to the construction of the monument, including Pedro Machuca, who traced the Palace of Carlos V.

To the interior are the Golden Room, which owes its name to the dome covered with gold leaf, and the Patio del Mexuar, with the lavish facade of the Palacio de Comares, adorned with morarabes, plasterwork and tiles and covered with an eave of cedar wood with decorative pineapple and shell motifs.

The Palace of Comares was ordered to be built by King Yusuf I, combining the representative function of the monarchy for the official management of state affairs with the sovereign's private dwelling. The center of the palace is occupied by the Patio de lo Arrayanes, with arcaded galleries at the ends. This courtyard has been called in various ways over time. The current name is due to the myrtle or shrub (bushes) massifs whose bright green color contrasts with the white marble floor of the patio.

It is chaired by the Comares Tower, which houses the Ambassadors Hall, where the king, in the company of his visors, gave an official audience. The room has a cubic shape and its walls do not have a gap without decorating with cutlery (calligraphic motifs), ataurique (vegetables) and laceria (geometric shapes). The starry dome represents the sky. Preceding this space is the Hall of the Boat, at whose ends were the bedrooms of the Sultan.

To the east of the palace are the Baños de Comares, built in a Muslim style following the model of the Roman baths. All the existing decoration is from the Christian era, since the poor state that the bathrooms have presented over the centuries has caused them to be restored and rebuilt several times.

The Palace of the Lions began to be built by order of Mohamed V, son of Yusuf I, as a private area for the royal family and the harem. It receives its name from the fountain supported by twelve marble lions located in the Patio de los Leones. The enclosure is an allegory of paradise, a petrified oasis in which the water flows and the 124 columns and the arches that support symbolize a forest of palm trees. This courtyard is the first in which a new architectural model is chosen: two water channels that arise from jets located within two large rooms: the Abencerrajes and Dos Hermanas rooms.

These rooms are in front of each other and stand out for their superb mocarabic domes. Popular tradition ensures that in the room of the Abencerrajes, apparently the king's bedroom, the knights named with that name were slaughtered, while the room of the Two Sisters refers to the two huge marble slabs that are seen on each side from the central source and that a 14th century poet compared two sisters. Inside is the Mirador de Lindaraja, a small room that was a place of recreation of the favorite of the Sultan and that constitutes by its exquisite decoration one of the most beautiful corners of the Alhambra.

The Sala de los Mocárabes is the simplest of all the Palacio de los Leones. It is located at the old entrance of the palace, and its name is due to the vault of mocárabes (decorative elements of the Nasrid art) that covered it, and that was demolished due to the bad state in which it was left after the explosion of a powder magazine in 1590.

Another one of the rooms of the palace is the one of the Kings, denominated thus by a painting realized in the dome of one of the three existing habitats, that represents ten monarchs. By its arrangement, the room is divided into seven parts: three square rooms, separated by two rectangular sections and alcoves at the ends. All this distribution and its Mozarabic decorations enhance the light that penetrates the room.