The Alhambra Palace, Granada
The Alhambra Palace was one of the greatest architectural wonders of the world when it was created in the 13th and 14th centuries and remains so today. It was the last and most splendid of all the Arabian palaces to be built in Spain during 700 years of Moorish domination. The Moors were vastly superior to their European enemies in all areas of culture and the Alhambra Palace became a glorious symbol of not only their wealth and power but also their unsurpassable artistic and architectural skills. The palace was constructed as both a fortress and royal residence for the sultans after the Christians recaptured Cordoba, which was the former capital of the mighty Western Islamic empire known as El Andalus. From the mid-1200s onwards, the Moorish Nasrid Dynasty set about establishing a citadel and palace the like of which the world had never seen before. On the hilltop site of an existing 10th century Arab fortress, the sultans brought together their empire's greatest minds and most talented craftsmen to fashion an exotic array of exquisitely decorated palaces and courtyards within the walls of a castle designed to withstand the might of the Christian armies. Visit the Alhambra today and you'll still find a mesmerizing mixture of the most intricate tile work, filigree decoration and mosaics within its royal rooms and shaded courtyards. A sensual blend of bubbling fountains, dark green pools, white marble floors and enchanting passage ways draw you back through the centuries to a time and place where sultans once ruled and relaxed on silken cushions while naked beauties danced for them (accompanied by blind musicians!) Jewels in the crown of the Alhambra include the legendary Court of the Lions with its famous fountain, the Hall of the Kings and Hall of the Queens, the royal baths and the magnificent Hall of the Two Sisters lavishly decorated with gold and lapis lazuli. In July and August, the Alhambra Palace is the main venue for the annual International Festival of Music and Dance which attracts some of the world's top orchestras, flamenco performers and ballet companies. Today, the monument is divided into four main areas: the Palaces , the military zone or Alcazaba , the city or Medina and the agricultural estate of the Generalife. All of these areas are surrounded by woods, gardens and orchards.
"Córdoba's mosque is one of the earliest and most transportingly beautiful examples of Spanish Muslim architecture." – Fodor's Spain The Mezquita (Spanish for "Mosque") of Cordoba is a beautiful and fascinating building that symbolizes the many religious changes Cordoba has undergone over the centuries. Today, the Mezquita is the cathedral of Cordoba (officially theCathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption), but the vast majority of its art and architecture is the work of Islamic architects, who built it as a mosque in the 8th century. History
The site on which the Mezquita stands has long been a sacred space – it was host to a Roman temple dedicated to Janus and a Visigothic cathedral dedicated to St Vincent of Saragossa before the mosque was constructed in the 8th century. Finally, a cathedral was added inside the mosque by the Christian conquerors in the early 13th century. The construction of the Mezquita lasted for over two centuries, starting in 784 ADunder the supervision of the emir of Cordoba, Abd ar-Rahman I. Under Abd ar-Rahman II (822-52), the Mezquita held an original copy of the Koran and an arm bone of the prophet Mohammed, making it a major Muslim pilgrimage site. The Mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd ar-Rahman III ordered a new minaret (9th century), while Al-Hakam II enlarged the plan of the building and enriched the mihrab (961). The last of the reforms, including the completion of the outer aisles and orange tree courtyard, were completed by Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir in 987. When finished, the Mezquita was the most magnificent of the more than 1,000mosques in Cordoba....
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