It takes up part of the sari’a and is the high water mark for imperial architectural statements designed by the marquises of Mondéjar. There were orders to build and equip the rooms in the Arabic palaces for Charles V and his wife Isabella of Portugal, for their honeymoon in 1526, since the existing ones were not to the Emperor´s liking, nor were they big enough for the court.
Pedro Machuca, a squire of the Counts of Tendilla, was in charge of the project and also designed the Puerta de las Granadas and the Pilar de Carlos V for it.
The foundations were started and the four façades were completed between 1527 and 1537, and from that year to 1550 they worked on the main façades, the western and southern ones, and the patio that is covered with an annular vault. When Pedro Machuca died in 1550, he was replaced by his son Luis, who continued construction as according to his father’s design. Work came to a halt upon the death of Luis Machuca, starting again in 1572, by order of Philip II.
In the 17th century, little work was done due to discrepancies between the projects, but primarily because of the limited funds allocated to our palace. However, the palace remained unfinished, since they had built the façades, both floors of the circular courtyard, the crypt and the chapel, but the mezzanine and the upper roof were still missing.
From 1923 to 1935 the palace was finished following the orders of Leopoldo Torres Balbás. He used the old ashlars buried in the Secano, did the mezzanine and completed the upper rooms, and covered the whole palace with a rooftop terrace. In 1957 the Museo de Bellas Artes was moved into the upper floor. In 1968 Francisco Prieto-Moreno Pardo covered the high gallery with a roof.
Place of Charles V Façades
The western entrance was done between 1551 and 1563 in grey stone from Sierra Elvira with a large door that was finished with winged victories. The lateral pedestals are symmetrical, representing war scenes, with soldiers and arms. The central pedestal represents the triumph of peace, symbolized by two women sitting on the arms which are burning two spirits. The women are between the Pillars of Hercules and they are accompanied by the globe of the world with the imperial crown. There are medallions on the falcons in white marble where Hercules is represented killing the lion of Nemea, in the middle of the Spanish Coat of Arms, and Hercules with the Cretan Bull.
The southern door was done between 1536 and 1554 and is also made of grey stone from Sierra Elvira. The lower part has four pillars from the Ionic order, finished with an entablature with the inscription: “Imp.Caes.Kar.V.P.V.” (Emperor and Caesar Charles V. Plus Ultra).
The iconology on these façades praises the victories of Charles V: on the western one, the land victory in the battle of Pavia over Francis I of France, and on southern one, the sea victory in the battle of Tunis over Berber pirates.
On the northern side there is a small façade with the inscription “Imp.Caes.Karolo V”
Placed up high in the circular courtyard that surrounds the lower gallery made with large Tuscan Order pillars with stone from Turro (Loja), while higher up the gallery has Corinthian order pillars.
The Renaissance and Arabic palaces are so integrated that only the large façades on the western and southern sides are worked, and it is also on these façades where the rings are found for tying horses above the continuous bench for mounting and dismounting. The rings have an eagle in the corners, and lions on the rest of the façade.
We know that the Arabic residence was destroyed while only part of the Sala de las Helias in the courtyard of Comares and part of the Rauda Real were destroyed.
The street named Calle Real Baja was permanently cut off, and Calle Real Alta had its route modified. You can see its remains in one of the rooms in the Museo de la Alhambra.
Two museums are located in the Palace of Charles V: the Museo de Bellas Artes and the Museo de la Alhambra.