In this remarkable photograph taken by Brian Hammonds, the Alhambra evokes the meaning of its Arabic name: Al-Hamra, “the red one.” It was built by the 11th-century Moorish king Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar, of the Kingdom of Granada. In 1492, with his soldiers greatly outnumbered, Muhammad XII of Granada surrendered the Emirate of Granada to the Catholic King and Queen Ferdinand and Isabella, who ordered the expulsion of all non-Christians from Spain.
The Alhambra was built to reflect the beauty of Paradise itself, but subsequent Spanish kings had other plans. Most of the beautiful Moorish tile work’s arabesques and calligraphy were whitewashed or effaced. King Charles I added Renaissance architecture; Phillip V Italianized rooms and replaced the Moorish building with his own palace.
In 1828, with an endowment from Ferdinand VIII, Jose Contreras and his son, Rafael, began 60 years of restoration. The Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an inspiration for music and literature.
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