This great fortress located in the Nasrid medina was first built as a small alcazaba (fortress) in the period of the Taifa kingdoms (11th century), in the Ziri period, and was preserved during the Nasrid period reforms (13th to 15th century)
It is the silent embryo of an entire aristocratic city which would later be called Madina al-Hamra (city of the Alhambra) and was unjustly forgotten by those who wrote about the Nasarid Palaces after the Conquest.
This alcazaba is on the western end of the Sabika hill. It is triangularly shaped and is built with rammed earth walls and towers. It was the main defence against attacks.
It is the oldest part of the complex and this was where the red castle was originally located. Muhammad I built the walls and the three towers: Torre de la Vela, Torre Quebrada and Torre del Homenaje. Later on an additional tower was built: Torre de la Polvora.
The soldiers responsible for defending the Sultan and the Alhambra lived in the Alcazaba. A path goes through the middle of the Alcazaba and the smallest houses were designated for single soldiers without a family (to the left) while the larger houses where for the soldiers and their families (to the right).
There would have been an arsenal, silo and a bread-making oven for preparing food.
After the Expulsion, it was adapted to modern military defence and attack techniques with additional towers being built: Torre del Cubo.