Saturday, October 5, 2013

La Alhambra

The Alhambra was originally built as a fortress and castle for the Moors. When part of Spain was taken over by the Muslims, many of the emirs (rulers) used it as their palaces. After the Reconquista (literally "reconquest" of Spain), the Catholic monarchs reclaimed it in 1492. Some portions were used by Christian rulers, but the only main addition was the Palace of Charles V. Unfortunately, the Alhambra would be left to deteriorate and it would not become restored until the 19th century.

When I saw the Alhambra in 2009 I was stunned. The first thing that caught my eye were the gardens; everything was so vibrant. I hadn't expected that. The second thing I noticed was the stark contrast between the Muslim and Christian architecture. For the most part, Islamic architecture is VERY ornate, and quite breathtaking. Usually carved designs or colorful tile-works line the walls and ceilings. (Only the first three photos are mine, I didn't get many shots while touring.)

Islamic artists used the stylistic elements created during the 8 centuries of Muslim rule: Calliphal horseshoe arch, Almohad sebka, Almoravid palm, and stilted arches and muqarnas (stalactite ceiling decorations).  Columns and muqarnas appear in many rooms, and the interiors of the palaces are decorated with arabesques and calligraphy. When the Alhambra was reclaimed by the Christians, however, the conquerers began to alter their work. Much of it was filled up and painted over, and furniture soiled, torn, or removed. Portions were even destroyed during the Renaissance. Even so, much of it still remains today and demonstrates the level of architectural skill in Islamic architecture. 

1 comment:

Samantha Gillen said...

I'm so jealous of all the places you've traveled. Those first three pictures are really amazing, and so are all the other ones you've uploaded onto the blog. I particularly like Islamic architecture, especially the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque. I absolutely love the intricate design principles used in its interior. LOVE.