The Al-hambra, or “the red one” is a smallish palace within a huge fortress that was first built by the Nasrid Moorish dynasty on a hill in Granada in the 14th century.
The Al-hambra is obviously very old and has a lot of history. We won’t bore you with historical details, but here are our top three favourite things about this palace/fortress:
1. It’s clever – The Moors were brilliant defense engineers who included all sorts of clever engineering designs (especially in the outer walls and ramparts) to make it an impenetrable fortress that has never been breached. Perhaps the most important of these is the construction of an aqueduct inside the hill behind it that provides a permanent source of clean water into the palace.
2. It’s pretty – While it’s all solid and impenetrable on the outside, the Al-hambra is soft and pretty on the inside. In the palace, the Nasrid rulers conceived what is thought to be the most brilliant Islamic building in all of Europe, with perfectly proportioned courtyards, beautiful gardens and fountains, elaborate carvings, etc.
3. It’s peaceful – Compared to other old fortresses, very little blood was spilled in the Al-hambra (and Granada too) as the Muslim Nasrid rulers preferred diplomacy over warfare – this make love not war thing is apparently the reason why a large hippie community now resides in the town. When Isabelle and Ferdinand (a very cool couple who even signed a prenuptial agreement before it became fashionable) sent a huge army to conquer Granada, the then Nasrid ruler Muhammad XII chose the peaceful option – he sold the Alhambra to them and left Granada peacefully on condition that that they would not harm or persecute the Muslim community living in the town. Moved by the beauty of the Moorish palace, they did not tear it down (as is usually done following reconquest) but just did a little re-decorating instead.