The Alhambra, the complete Arabic form of which was Calat Alhamra, is a palace and fortress complex located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain. It was originally constructed as a small fortress in 889 on the remains of Roman fortifications and then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-
Alhambra's late flowering of Islamic palaces as we know them today were built for the last Muslim emirs in Spain during the decline of the Nasrid dynasty who were increasingly subject to the Christian Kings of Castile. After being allowed to fall into disrepair for centuries, the buildings occupied by squatters, Alhambra was rediscovered following the defeat of Napoleon, who had conducted retaliatory destruction of the site, first by British intellectuals and then by other north European Romantic travelers. It is now one of Spain's major tourist attractions, exhibiting the country's most significant and well known Islamic architecture, together with 16th-
Moorish poets described it as "a pearl set in emeralds," an allusion to the colour of its buildings and the woods around them. The palace complex was designed with the mountainous site in mind and many forms of technology were considered. The park (Alameda de la Alhambra), which is overgrown with wildflowers and grass in the spring, was planted by the Moors with roses, oranges, and myrtles; its most characteristic feature, however, is the dense wood of English elms brought by the Duke of Wellington in 1812. The park has a multitude of nightingales and is usually filled with the sound of running water from several fountains and cascades. These are supplied through a conduit 8 km (5.0 mi) long, which is connected with the Darro at the monastery of Jesus del Valle above Granada.
Despite long neglect, willful vandalism, and some ill-
The decoration consists, as a rule, of Arabic inscriptions that are manipulated into geometrical patterns set onto an arabesque setting. Painted tiles are largely used as panelling for the walls. Much of the architectural ornament is carved stucco (plaster) rather than stone. The palace complex is designed in the Mudéjar style, which is characteristic of western elements reinterpreted into Islamic forms and widely popular during the Reconquista, the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslims by the Christian kingdoms.
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