The Alhambra is a palace-fortress complex which sits atop a hill overlooking the city of Granada in southern Spain. It has come to be a symbol of al-Andalus, the incredibly fascinating period of Iberian (Spanish & Portuguese) history whereby the region was ruled to varying degrees by Arab and Berber Muslims.
- The Alhambra was most likely built on the site of an old Roman fortification – not that surprising considering it was a strategic location that provided a view of the city of Granada below.
- When the Christian kingdoms completed the Reconquista in 1492, the Edict of Expulsion, which forced the Jewish population of Spain to leave the country, was signed in the Alhambra. Ironically, a key period in its development from fortress to palace was when it became the residence of Samuel ibn Naghrela (994-1056), a Jewish vizier to the Emir of Granada.
- What we see today of the Alhambra is largely owed to the Nasrid Emirate of Granada who transformed it into a royal palace. From the mid-13th century onward it was expanded and embellished to its current grandeur over the course of the next century and a half. These improvements included the famous Patio of the Lions, the Baths and extension of some of the towers.
- The Alhambra was abandoned from the mid-16th century until the 19th century when it was re-discovered by British intellectuals. Apparently squatters lived inside when Napoleon invaded Spain. Since then, the site has benefited greatly from reconstruction works done on it after centuries of neglect and disrepair.
Article contributed by Hikma History
Reference: Hikma History