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Ladies Tower at the Alhambra

The Alhambra (Arabic: literally "the red") is an ancient palace and fortress complex of the Moors monarchs of Granada in southern Spain, occupying a hilly terrace on the south-eastern border of the city of Granada. It was the residence of the Muslim kings of Granada and their court, but is currently a museum exhibiting exquisite Islamic architecture.

 

This terrace or plateau, which measures about 2430 ft in length by 674 ft at its greatest width, extends from W.N.W. to E.S.E., and covers an area of about 142,000 m². It is enclosed by a strongly fortified wall, which is flanked by thirteen towers. The river Darro, divides the plateau from the Albaicín district of Granada; the Assabica valley, separate it from the Antequeruela district.

 

History

 

The name Alhambra, signifying in the red is probably derived from the colour of the sun-dried tapia, or bricks made of fine gravel and clay, of which the outer walls are built. Some authorities, however, hold that it commemorates the red flare of the torches by whose light the work of construction was carried on nightly for many years; others associate it with the name of the founder, Muhammed Ibn Al Ahmar; and others derive it from the Arabic Dar al Amra, House of the Master. The palace was built chiefly between 1248 and 1354, in the reigns of Al Ahmar and his successors, but even the names of the principal artists employed are either unknown or doubtful.

 

The splendid arabesques of the interior are ascribed, among other kings, to Yusef I, Mohammed V, Ismail I, etc. After the Christian conquest of the city in 1492, the conquerors began to alter the Alhambra. The open work was filled up with whitewash, the painting and gilding effaced, the furniture soiled, torn or removed. Charles V, rebuilt portions in the Renaissance style of the period, and destroyed the greater part of the winter palace to make room for a Renaissance-style structure which has never been completed. Philip V of Spain italianised the rooms, and completed his palace right in the middle of what had been the Moorish building. He ran up partitions which blocked up whole apartments. In subsequent centuries under Spanish authorities, Moorish art was further defaced; and in 1812 some of the towers were blown up by the French under Count Sebastiani, while the whole buildings narrowly escaped the same fate. Napoleon had tried to blow up the whole complex. Just before his plan was carried out, a soldier who secretly wanted the plan of Napoleon to fail, defused the explosives and thus saved the Alhambra for posterity.

 

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Taken on February 14, 2007