The Alhambra, in Granada, was a Moorish fortress and palace. 2,000 people lived within its walls, which wound up being the last Moorish stronghold in Europe. As the conquering Christians worked their way throughout southern Spain — taking Sevilla and Cordoba in the mid-13th century — the Nazarids stood their ground in Granada until 1492. In that world-changing year, inside the Palacio Nazaries, in the Great Hall of Ambassadors (picture 3), it is believed that not only did Boabdil, the last Moorish king, sign his surrender to the Reconquista, but also the room where Columbus made one of his final pitches to Ferdinand and Isabel to go to Asia.
Interestingly, Charles V decided the Palacio Nazaries wasn’t cool enough for him, so he built his own palace funded by taxing the defeated Muslims. One of the things I learned about historic Spain is that the conquering Christians built on top of — and sometimes inside — some of these beautiful Muslim buildings (like the Alhambra and, as I’ll post in a bit, the Mezquita in Cordoba).
It’s as if Christians of the Middle Ages needed to borrow from other religions and cultures to establish their own, and then just rain down terror on those they stole from by forcing them to choose: convert to Christianity or die. Anyway, that’s for another post. For now, the Alhambra (and Granada) was pretty incredible.