The Alhambra (from the Arabic, Al Hamra, meaning The Red) is an ancient mosque, palace and fortress complex built in Granada, in southern Spain. The name is probably derived from the colour of the sun-dried tapia of which the outer walls are built. The Alhambra's Islamic palaces were built for the last Muslim emirs in Spain and its court of the Nasrid dynasty. After the Reconquista by the Reyes Católicos ("Catholic Monarchs") in 1492, some portions were used by Christian rulers. The Palace of Charles V, built by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor in 1527, was inserted in the Alhambra within the Nasrid fortifications.
For centuries the Alhambra was disregarded and allowed to fall into disrepair, however, it was rediscovered in the 19th century by European scholars and travellers, with restorations commencing. It is now one of Spain's major tourist attractions, exhibiting the country's most significant and well known Arab-Islamic architecture, together with 16th-century and later Christian building and garden interventions.
The decoration within the Alhambra consists, as a rule, of Arabic inscriptions that are manipulated into sacred geometrical patterns wrought into arabesques. Painted tiles and mother of pearl decorations are largely used as panelling for the walls. Beautiful, intricate and elaborate stone work is done along wall panels and arches.Large, limestone fountains are dotted across the large complex. The Alhambra palace complex is largely designed in the Mudéjar style, which is the reinterpretation of western elements into Islamic forms, not uncommon during the Reconquista.
The setting of the Alhambra is uncharacteristically serene and beautiful. The palace complex was planned with the mountainous site in mind and many forms of technology were considered. The park (Alameda de la Alhambra), which is overgrown with wildflowers, roses, oranges and myrtles; its most distinctivefeature, 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 that worthy of mention.
The Alhambra was completed around the end Muslim rule of Spain by Yusuf I (1333–1353) and Muhammed V, Sultan of Granada(1353–1391), the Alhambra is a reflection of the culture of the last centuries of the Moorish rule of Al Andalus, reduced to the Nasrid Emirate of Granada. It is believed that this is where artists and intellectuals had taken refuge as the Reconquista by Spanish Christians won victories over Al Andalus. The Alhambra integrates natural site qualities with constructed structures and gardens, and is a testament to Moorish culture in Spain and the skills of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian artisans, craftsmen, and builders of their era.
Beautiful, over powering and nothing short of an architectural marvel The Alhambra is a must see as far as Islamic architecture goes. The Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the inspiration for many songs and stories.