Alhambra

Alhambra [Arab., = the red], extensive group of buildings on a hill overlooking Granada, Spain. They were built chiefly between 1230 and 1354 and they formed a great citadel of the Moorish kings of Spain. After the expulsion of the Moors in 1492, the structures suffered mutilation, but were extensively restored after 1828.

The Alhambra is a true expression of the once flourishing Moorish civilization and is the finest example of its architecture in Spain. It comprises remains of the citadel, the so-called palace of the kings, and the quarters once used by officials. The halls and chambers surround a series of open courts, which include the Court of Lions containing arcades resting on 124 white marble columns. The interior of the building is adorned sumptuously with magnificent examples of the so-called honeycomb and stalactite vaulting; its walls and ceilings are decorated with geometric ornamentation of minute detail and intricacy, executed with surpassing skill in marble, alabaster, glazed tile, and carved plaster.

See W. Irving, Legends of the Alhambra (1832); A. F. Calvert, The Alhambra (1907); S. Desmond, ed., The Alhambra (1974); O. Grabar, The Alhambra (1978).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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