It has been over 500 years since the last “Moor king” was expelled from the Alhambra in Granada by the Catholic Monarchs. The red castle, Al-Hamra, was for over 200 years the last bastion of the Nazari Kingdom in Al-Andalus, located on a hill, with the snowy mountains of the Sierra Nevada as a backdrop.
Who strolls nowadays through its beautiful walled enclosures can still feel the magic of past days of this monument which was royal palace and military castle during the Nasrid dynasty.
The Alhambra is a reflection of this Nasrid culture, the last Arab kingdom in the peninsula where artists and intellectuals sought refuge as the reconquest progressed in Al-Andalus. Built in the mid-thirteenth century by Mohamed I, his descendants later expanded the medina (city) and strengthened its defences.
The interiors of the palaces dazzle with exquisite beauty, showing the great Arabic artistic skill at that time. The Nasrids were also true architects in designing irrigation systems and running water, whose gentle murmur is present throughout the site as fountains, ponds and streams.
In 1492, the Alhambra fell into the hands of the Catholic Monarchs and the legend says that the last king of Granada, Boabdil, being exiled, stopped on a mountain on the way to the coast, looked back at Granada and the Alhambra and started crying. This site still nowadays is called “The sigh of the Moor”.
Who likes the stories and legends of this kingdom extinct long ago, can read the Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving, who travelled to Granada in 1829 and lived for four months at the Alhambra and wrote the stories of his collection. This book was partly responsible for the re-discovery of a deteriorated Alhambra after the Napoleonic War.
Actually, the Alhambra in Granada is a World Heritage Site and one of the most visited monuments in Spain. Who wants to immerse in medieval Arabic narrative, can check the following link “Tales of the Alhambra” for a free online reading. I highly recommend it!