The city of Granada is located near the southern tip of Spain, on the hills at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. An important city during the period of Umayyad rule (756-1031 AD) and under the Almohad and Almoravid dynasties of the twelfth and thirteenth-centuries, Granada is most famous for the palaces within the palatine city of the Alhambra.
Founded by Muhammad ibn Yusuf ibn Nasr, who escaped to Granada after the Castilian conquest of his native Zaragoza, Granada was the capital of the Nasrid Sultanate, and as such became the last Islamic kingdom of the Iberian Peninsula following the Castilian conquest of al-Andalus in the thirteenth-century.
The medieval city was composed of separate quarters, each with its own mosques and baths. Granada's suburbs developed along the banks of the Darro River, on the plain and hills below the Alhambra. The government functions of the Nasrid rulers were concentrated in the Alhambra, while commercial, religious, and civic institutions were concentrated in Granada proper.
The Albaicín, a walled suburb on the hill opposite that of the Alhambra, is the best-preserved section of the medieval city, but retains only a fraction of the mosques and celebrated courtyard houses that once existed there.
Dickie, James. 1992. "Granada: A Case Study of Arab Urbanism in Muslim Spain." In The Legacy of Muslim Spain, edited by S. K. Jayyusi and M. Marín. Leiden ; New York: E.J. Brill, 88-111.
Hermann, Elizabeth Dean. 1996. Urban formation and landscape: symbol and agent of social, political and environmental change in fifteenth-century Nasrid Granada. Harvard Univ.: PhD. Dissertation.
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Roca Roumens, M., Moreno Onorato, M. A. & Lizcano Prestel, R. 1988. El Albaicín y los orígenes de la ciudad de Granada. Granada: Universidad de Granada.
The Palace of the Lions adjoins the Palace of the Myrtles to the southeast, and was built by Muhammad V, probably between 1370 and 1391. The palace consists of a central arcaded courtyard with the famous fountain in the centre, its basin supported by twelve lion figures. The waters of the fountain flow along four channels that divide the courtyard into equal quadrants, terminating in basins located within the Hall of the Two Sisters to the north of the courtyard, the Hall of the Abencerrajes to the south, and the Hall of the Kings to the east.
The Hall of the Two Sisters' square plan develops into an octagonal drum that supports a highly complex stellate muqarnas vault. Beyond the Hall of the Two Sisters lies the Lindaraxa tower that overlooks gardens below. The square Hall of the Abencerrajes utilises squinches to support a second stellate muqarnas vault, while the Hall of Kings utilises muqarnas decoration on arches as well as vaulting. Each of these spaces is highly ornamented with glazed tile dados, carved stucco, and muqarnas.
Sources: Dickie, James. 1981. "The Alhambra: Some Reflections Prompted by a Recent Study by Oleg Grabar. In Studia Arabica et Islamica : Festschrift for Ihsan Abbas on his sixtieth birthday. edited by Wadad al-Qadi. Beirut: American UP, 127-49.
ibid. 1992. "The Palaces of the Alhambra." In al-Andalus : the art of Islamic Spain . Edited by Jerrilynn D. Dodds. New York: Abrams, 135-51.
Fernandez Puertas, Antonio. 1997. The Alhambra. 2 v. London : Saqi Books.
Orihuela Uzal, Antonio. 1996. Casas y palacios nazaries : siglos XIII-XV. Seville: Junta de Andalucia, Consejeria de Cultura, Consejeria de Turismo y Deporte ; Granada: El Legado Andalusi ; Barcelona : Lunwerg Editores.
Ruggles, D.F. 2000. "The Alhambra." In Gardens, Landscape, and Vision in the Palaces of Islamic Spain. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 163-208.