The Aljafer

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I. Introduction
The Aljafería Palace is a medieval Islamic palace built during the 11th century and located in the heart of present day Zaragoza, Spain. The palace reflects the splendor attained by the kingdom of the taifa of Zaragoza at the height of its grandeur. Today, the Aljaferia Palace contains the Cortes or regional parliament of the autonomous community of Aragon. The structure holds unique importance in that it is the only conserved testimony of a large building of Spanish Islamic architecture of the era of the Taifas, independent kingdoms. As a work of art, the Aljaferia Palace belongs to the style of Mudéjar Art. Mudéjar Art, a style which is native and unique to the history of Spain, was a meeting point between Christianity and Islam. The term Mudéjar refers to the Muslims who continued to practice their religion and their customs in the territories which became part of the Christian dominions as the Reconquest of the Hispanic kingdoms advanced into southern Spain. It came into being and flourished thanks to the social phenomenon represented by the climate of peaceful coexistence between three cultures: Christian, Muslim and Jewish. This system of artistic work –a heritage of the Islamic tradition– left its mark both on Christian architecture and on its sumptuary arts. Mudéjar art is widely accepted as a hybrid of Moorish, Gothic and Romanesque styles. After the capture of Zaragoza in 1118 by Alfonso I of Aragon during the reconquista, the Aljaferia Palace became the residence of the Christian kings of the Kingdom of Aragon and as such was converted into the focal point for spread of the Mudéjar Architecture of Aragon. II. History

The Aljaferia Palace was built during the second part of the 11th century in the Moorish independent Muslim state called the Taifa of Zaragoza, present day Zaragoza, Spain. It was built to be the residence of the Banu Hud dynasty during the era of Abu Jaffar Al-Muqtadir after abolishing Banu Tujibi of Kindah dynasty. The Banu Hud were an Arab dynasty that ruled the taifa of Zaragoza from 1039-1110. In 1039, under the leadership of Al-Mustain I, Sulayman ibn Hud al-Judhami, the Banu Hud seized control of Zaragoza from a rival clan, the Banu Tujibi. His heirs, particularly Ahmad I al-Muqtadir (1046-1081), were patrons of culture and the arts. In the second half of the 11th century, Ahmad I built the Aljafería Palace as the royal residence for the Banu Hud dynasty and it is practically the only palace from that period to have survived almost in its entirety. Later, in the 1200s, a coalition of Christian kings drove the Moors from Spain in a 300 year long campaign called the Reconquista. As Moorish territory fell to the Christian kings of Spain, the Aljaferia Palace became the residence of the Christian kings of the Kingdom of Aragon. The Aljafería Palace served many functions throughout history. As stated before, it was built by the Taifas Kings of the Banu Hun dynasty as a leisure residence but was also a defensive building. The palace later functioned as the residence of the Christian kings in the Kingdom of Aragon after the capture of Alfonso I of Aragon in 1118. It was also the birthplace of Saint Isabel of Portugal in the year 1271. It was used as the royal residence by Peter IV of Aragon and subsequently, on the principal building site, a renovation was carried out that converted these chambers into the palace of the Catholic Monarchs in 1492. In 1593, the structure experienced another renovation that converted it into a military base, first according to Renaissance designs (which today can be observed in its moat and gardens) and later as military quarters. The building suffered continuous alterations and considerable imperfections, above all with the Siege of Zaragoza during the Peninsular War until it was finally restored in the second half of the 20th century.

III. Construction
The Aljafería Palace is a complex group of structures that have been built around one...
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