Once out from the enclosure of the Alcazaba, it’s time for us to visit the Nasrid Palaces. After joining the queue of tourists outside the main entrance, members of the staff check our tickets and we can then enter the place starting from the Mexuar, the first of three independent zones of the Palaces and semi-public part which was situated the administration of justice and state affairs. The other two areas are the Comares Palace (Palacio de Comares), the official residence of the king, and the Palace of the Lions (Palacio de los Leones), the private area of the palace. These places are different enough from each other because of their use and their artistic features. The Palace of Comares, for instance, is typically Muslim, but the Lions Palace presents Christian influences that must be the result of the friendship that existed for years between King Mohammed V and his Castilian counterpart Pedro I the Cruel.
During this visit, it is every room, every hallway, every window, every marble slab (no, I’m exaggerating… barely!) that we will admire, therefore it is simply impossible for me to summarize it all here. Indeed, the history of the place and the diversity and complexity of each architectural element would transform this summary into an encyclopedia! Now if I like to detail some aspects of my journey in this way, I do not wish to reveal everything here all the magic of the Nasrid Palaces – you’ll have to come to see it in person!
Located at the bottom of the Mexuar is a chapel restored in 1917. The main wall has four small balconies, with arches and small windows with partial but interesting views on the city. Following the tourist trail, we arrive on the Patio of the Gilded Room (Patio del Cuarto Dorado), located between the Mexuar and the said chamber, which is in the Comares Palace (Palacio de Comares), serving as a connection between the two places. The Gilded Room received its name by the Mudejar paintings of its ceiling.
And then, here come the wonder! Before even visiting any of the rooms of the palace, we are dazzled by the famous Patio of the Myrtles (Patio de los Arrayanes), named after the myrtle bushes that surround the central pond and the bright green color which contrasts with the white marble floor of the premises. This is a very known picture which appears on almost every postcard you find in Granada. The palace is formed by a set of rooms located around the patio, and each of which can be visited. These include the Hall of the Boat (Sala de la Barca) and the Ambassadors Room (Sala de los Embajadores) as well as the Tower of Comares (Comares Torres), from where you can admire a beautiful view of the Darro valley river.
A little further on, we come to what is termed today to be the extraordinary legacy left by Yusuf I in the Alhambra: the Palace of the Lions (Palacio de los Leones). The latter was one of the private rooms of the royal family and was built in the angle between the Baths (Baños) and the Patio of the Myrtles. In these places, Nasrid art achieved its greatest splendor, of an unrivaled beauty and harmony where light, water, colors and exquisite decoration make this a true pleasure for our senses. When I tell you that this is a true wonder, you have to believe me!
This palace is composed by a central patio surrounded by galleries with columns in the style of a Christian cloister, allowing access to different rooms: the Hall of Mocarabes (Sala de Mocarabes) to the west, the Kings Hall (Sala de los Reyes) to the east, the Hall of the Two Sisters (Sala de Dos Hermanas), the Hall of Meneaux Windows (Sala de Ajimeces) and the Mirador de Daraxa to the north, and finally the Hall of Abencerrajes and the Harem to the south. Let’s us not forget to mention the Courtyard of the Lions (Patio de los Leones), the most famous place of the Alhambra. Its name comes from the twelve lions “jets of water” that are in the middle of the patio, covered with a huge white marble fountain. Fantastic!
Always among the flood of tourists, we continue our way and arrive at the Grid Patio (Patio de la Reja), named after the existing grid acting as a balcony on the wall from 1655. Just next door is the Daraxa gardens, also called Garden of Orange Trees and Marbles (Jardín de los Naranjos de los y Mármoles). There are cypresses, acacias and orange trees and boxwood shrubs all around a large marble fountain whose edge is decorated with a poem, like the fountain of the Lions Court. South of this patio is the Hall of Secrets (Sala de los Secretos), where two people can talk quietly to each other while watching the wall from each end of the room. The acoustics here allow the sound to move easily and without facing obstacles, making possible this kind of communication as is the case in other places in Europe I have had the opportunity to visit.