The Lions of Alhambra

    The Lions of Alhambra
    Granada, Spain: Court of the Lions

          One of the most famous landmarks of Spain is the Alhambra palace complex. Situated on a hilltop and covering more than 400 acres, this complex is not only home to a series of palaces, but also showcases more than 400 plants and a great number of wild animals and birds.  The original construction was a small fortress  built in 889 and then  ignored until mid-11th century when its ruins were discovered by Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Kingdom of Granada. The Moorish king renovated the ruins and built the current palace walls. In 1333, Sultan Yusuf I of Granada converted Alhambra into a royal palace declaring it the kingdom’s seat of government. Definitely the most photographed place in Alhambra is the Patio de los Leones (the Court of the Lions), a rectangular court surrounded by a low gallery of white marble columns adorned with filigree work.  In the centre of the court lies the Fountain of the Lions, one of the most beautiful pieces of Islamic art ever conceived. The fountain was designed as an alabaster basin supported by the figures of twelve lions in white marble, symbols of strength, power, and sovereignty.  But behind the esthetic aspect, there is a very sophisticated hydraulic system that keeps a constant level of water in the fountain.

    The Fountain of the Lions went through a very lengthy and expensive restoration that lasted for almost 10 years and cosseted  €2.2 million. We saw it before the restoration, when it looked more authentic and beautiful. Today it’s a little too bright and clean, but I guess once in a while these old monuments need to be repaired. The passing of time seems to take a toll on all of us, even the rocks.

     

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