Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 1 >> Albani to Alligator >> Alhambra

Alhambra

arches, granada, court and called

ALHAMBRA (Kelezt-al-harnrah, the red castle), the citadel of Granada when that city was one of the principal seats of the empire of the Moors in Spain. The wall which sur rounded it still stands flanked by many towers, and has a circuit of two and one-fourth miles. Within it were included several important buildings, besides dwelling-houses; but the building to which the celebrity of the site is due is the Alcazar, or royal palace of the kings of Granada, seated on the northern brow of a lofty eminence which commands a full view of the city of Granada, and, beyond it, of a charming country, bounded in the distance by a line of hills. It is a place equally interesting to the artist, the antiquarian and the historian. The erection of the greater part of the present building seems to have occupied almost the whole of the first half of the 14th century. It consists mainly of two oblong rectangular courts, the one (which was seriously damaged, if not ruined, by fire in Sep tember 1890), called the court of the Fish-pond or of the Myrtles, 138 by 74 feet, and terminat ing at its northern end in an apartment 35 feet square, richly ornamented; the other, called the Court of the Lions, 115 by 66 feet, and so named from the white marble fountain in the centre supported by 12 lions. An exact repetition of this court, on two-thirds of the scale of the original, was made by Mr. Owen

Jones in the Crystal Palace. It is surrounded by an arcade, with small pavilions at cads end, consisting of 128 columns supporting arches of the most delicate and elaborate finish, still very perfect and retaining much of their original beauty. From the character of many of the arches in various portions of the palace they are most appropriately called stalactitic. They are formed on a peculiar system with plaster bricks of various forms in a manner univ.ft-Wly adopted irr the buildings of the Moors. he construction of the arches is remarkable for its simplicity. Over the columns, which Are of white marble, and which were probably gilded, are brick piers carrying rough brick riches; above these tiles are placed diagonally, forihing diamond-shiped pen work, running thrbugh the thickness of the walls, and a brest-summer of timber supporting the weight above. To these rough arches are attached the various enrichments, and against the tiles are placed the perforated plaster ornaments which give a singularly light appearance to the arches, and create beautiful effects from the rays of light cast through the openings on the wall behind them. Consult Calvert, 'Granada and The Al hambra' (1900).