The Bride Unveiled: Influences on and Interpretations of the Alhambra
By Iram Ahmad
Published online by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (2008)
Introduction: Few buildings from the Middle Ages have increasingly captured the imagination of visitors throughout time like the Alhambra. According to Lonely Planet, 6,000 tourists visit the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, per day to immerse themselves in the lush gardens and stunning decoration of the Alhambra palaces.
The Alhambra occupies an outcrop of the Sierra Nevada, on a site of 720 meters by 200 meters. The fortress-like walls surrounding the complex have twenty-three surviving towers and four gates. Within the walls was a small city: houses of all classes, palaces, offices, a Royal Mint, public and private mosques, workshops, garrisons, prisons, baths , a zoo, an aviary, and game reserve. There is no regular arrangement of buildings, given that construction was done in multiple stages over centuries, and the architecture currently is a hodgepodge of the various styles that characterized the time period between the ninth and sixteenth centuries. Since the Alhambra has been heavily damaged and massively reconstructed throughout time, it is not clear what it looked like during the time of the Nasrids, the dynasty who originally built the Alhambra in the Almohad period.