Alhambra


Alhambra
/al ham"breuh/, n.
1. a palace and citadel of the Moorish kings in Granada, Spain: built chiefly between 1248 and 1354.
2. a city in SW California, near Los Angeles. 64,615.
[ < Sp < Ar al-hamra' lit., the red]

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Palace of the Moorish monarchs of Granada, Spain, built (1238–1358) on a plateau above the city.

Its name (Arabic: "the red") may refer to the colour of the sun-dried bricks used in its outer walls. The Alhambra, only three parts of which remain intact, is made up of a series of rooms and gardens clustered around three principal courts, with extensive use of fountains and water basins. Its surfaces are astoundingly ornate and varied, with outstanding examples of stalactite work.

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      city, Los Angeles county, California, U.S. Alhambra lies in the San Gabriel Valley, south of Pasadena. Laid out in 1874 by Benjamin D. Wilson on land once part of Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, it developed as an agricultural community with a unique irrigation system using the first piped water in southern California. Named for one of Wilson's favourite books—Washington Irving (Irving, Washington)'s The Alhambra (1832), which popularized the Moorish palace of the same name in Granada, Spain (see Alhambra)—the city grew as a residential base for nearby Los Angeles industries. The city is the site of one of eight campuses of Alliant International University (formed in 2001 from the merger of the California School of Professional Psychology [1969; after 2000 called Alliant University] and the United States International University [1952]). Inc. 1903. Pop. (1990) 82,106; (2000) 85,804.

 palace and fortress of the Moorish (Moor) monarchs of Granada, Spain. The name Alhambra (World Heritage site), signifying in Arabic “the red,” is probably derived from the colour of the sun-dried tapia, or bricks made of fine gravel and clay, of which the outer walls are built.

 Constructed on a plateau that overlooks the city of Granada, the palace was built chiefly between 1238 and 1358, in the reigns of Ibn al-Ahmar, founder of the Naṣrid dynasty, and his successors. The splendid decorations of the interior are ascribed to Yūsuf I (d. 1354). After the expulsion of the Moors in 1492, much of the interior was effaced and the furniture was ruined or removed. Charles V, who ruled in Spain as Charles I (1516–56), rebuilt portions in the Renaissance style and destroyed part of the Alhambra in order to build an Italianate palace designed by Pedro de Machuca in 1526. In 1812 some of the towers were blown up by the French during the War of Independence (Spain), and in 1821 an earthquake caused further damage to the structure. Restoration of the building was undertaken in 1828 and continued through the 20th century.

 The Moorish portion of the Alhambra includes the Alcazaba, or citadel, which is the oldest part—only its massive outer walls, towers, and ramparts are left. Beyond the Alcazaba is the Alhambra palace, and beyond that the Alhambra Alta (Upper Alhambra), which was originally tenanted by officials and courtiers and was part of a royal city constituting a seat of government.

  The principal courts of the palace are the Patio de los Arrayanes (Court of the Myrtles) and the Patio de los Leones (Court of the Lions), so named because in the centre is the Fountain of the Lions, an alabaster basin supported by the figures of 12 white marble lions, emblems of strength and courage. The most important rooms of the Alhambra are the Sala de los Embajadores (Hall of the Ambassadors), a spatially grand reception room; the Sala de los Abencerrages (the name of this hall was derived from a legend in which Boabdil (Muḥammad XI), the last king of Granada, having invited the Abencerrage chiefs to a banquet in this room, there massacred them); and the Sala de las Dos Hermanas (Hall of the Two Sisters), with its outstanding example of stalactite work.

 To the east on the Cerro del Sol (“Hill of the Sun”) is the Generalife (from the Moorish Jannat al-ʿArīf [“Garden of the Builder”]), constructed in the early 14th century as a summer palace. The complex is centred on picturesque courtyards such as El Cipres de la Sultana (“Cypress of the Sultana”). Terraced gardens, pools, and fountains combine to enchanting effect in La Acequia Courtyard. A theatre within the Generalife is the site of international performances of music and dance. The Alhambra and the Generalife were collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984 (expanded in 1994).
 

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Universalium. 2010.

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