January 23, 2014

0985, 0986 SPAIN (Andalusia) - Alhambra - part of Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada (UNESCO WHS)

0985 Panorama of the Alhambra

Although the area was inhabited from at least the 8th century B.C., the actual founding of present day Granada, at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, at the confluence of four rivers (the Beiro, the Darro, the Genil and the Monachil), took place in the 11th century, during a civil war that ended the Caliphate. In a short time this village was transformed into one of the most important cities of Al-Andalus, spreading across the Darro to reach the hill of the future Alhambra, and included the Albayzín neighborhood.

0986 Alhambra -Ornamental works in stucco and azulejos

With the Reconquista in full swing after the conquest of Cordoba in 1236, the Nasrids aligned themselves with Ferdinand III of Castile, officially becoming the Emirate of Granada in 1238. In 1492, the last Muslim ruler in Iberia, Emir Muhammad XII, surrendered complete control of the Emirate of Granada to Ferdinand II and Isabella I, Los Reyes Católicos (The Catholic Monarchs), after the last battle of the Granada War. Actually the fall of Granada completed the Reconquista, putting an end to the 800 year-long Islamic rule in the Iberian Peninsula.

Rising above the modern lower town, the Alhambra and the Albaycín, situated on two adjacent hills, form the medieval part of Granada, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 (with an extension in 1994). To the east of the Alhambra fortress and residence are the magnificent gardens of the Generalife, the former rural residence of the emirs. The residential district of the Albaycín is a rich repository of Moorish vernacular architecture, into which the traditional Andalusian architecture blends harmoniously.

The Alhambra was originally constructed as a small fortress in 889, and then ignored until was rebuilt in the mid 11th century by Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar, and later converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I. Moorish poets described it as "a pearl set in emeralds," in allusion to the colour of its buildings and the woods around them. Despite long neglect, willful vandalism, and some ill-judged restoration, the Alhambra endures as an atypical example of Muslim art in its final European stages, relatively uninfluenced by the direct Byzantine influences found in the Mezquita of Córdoba.

It is organized around two rectangular courts, the Patio de Los Arrayanes and the Patio de Los Lames, and includes a large number of rooms of a highly refined taste, with marble columns, stalactite cupolas, ornamental works in stucco, gaily coloured azulejos, precious wood inlayed and sculpted, and paintings on leather compete with the richness and the delicacy of the natural decor: the water, still and sparkling in immense basins, flows out into the basins of the fountains, glides through narrow canals, and explodes into jets of water or falls in refreshing cascades. The walls are covered by delicate arabesques and about 10,000 inscriptions (verses from the Qur'an, poems, panegyrics of various kings, and aphorisms) which stand atop vibrant, multicoloured wainscotings of ceramic tiles (azulejos).

ReferencesGranada - Wikipedia
Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada - UNESCO official website

Sender 0985, 0986: Ana
Sent from ? (? / Spain), on 12.06.2013

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