Christian periods in the Alhambra
- The first period:
It is considered to have started in the 15th century, a major change occurred in the medina of the Alhambra, since Christian and Muslim mindset are different:
The great mosque was made sacred, was turned into a church- the Iglesia de Santa María, the palace at the start of the street Calle Real Alta was turned into the Convent of San Francisco and work and preparation was undertaken for the Catholic Monarchs to be able to settle there.
The Palacio de Comares and Palace of the Lions were connected and were referred to as the “Casa Real” (royal house) since they were occupied by the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand themselves. The Count of Tendilla also carried out work in 1492 to modify the Arabic palaces for Christian needs.
The large cistern was also built between the Alcazaba and Calle Real Alta. Later on a number of gates and towers were fortified with artillery magazines which changed the inner and outer structure of the Alhambra’s medina.
In 1526, for the honeymoon of Charles V and Isabella of Portugal, new preparatory construction work was done. However, the big change occurred when the decision was made to build the renaissance palace, the Palacio de Carlos V (Charles V).
The gate known as the Puerta de los Carros was also opened so carts loaded with materials could be taken up to the palace, and having laid the foundation of the new palace, the labyrinth of medieval streets was rendered obsolete. The same palace is located on the street Calle Real Baja blocking the medieval walkway to the Palace of the Lions and the Partal palace.
In the Renaissance period the Jardín de los Adarves garden was built on the large southern ditch of the Alcazaba, the Puerta de las Granadas/ Pomegranates Gate in the line of the wall that connects the Alcazaba, Torres Bermejas and the famous Pilar de Carlos V next to the Puerta de la Justicia, also known as the Puerta de la Explanada.
- Second Christian period
From the 18th to 19th century, the Alhambra was completely abandoned which is reflected in the prints done by English and French artists. After the disaster brought on by the French leaving the Alhambra, between 1810 and 1812, when Ferdinand VII named the first architect to be in charge of its conservation in 1828, José Contreras, which started a long process which Modesto Cendoya followed; yet was finished with Leopoldo Torres Balbás when the work was finally completed, since the latter carried out countless projects in his time as Supervising Architect, from 1923 to 1936.
The Alhambra has been carefully attended to and handled over the course of the 20th century and the start of the 21st by all of the architects who have worked on it.
The combination of the Alhambra and the Generalife monumental complex, a World Heritage Site, is one of the most beautiful and complete monuments from the medieval Muslim legacy on the Iberian Peninsula. On top of its historical, architectural and decorative value, one revels in its aesthetics and our senses enjoyment of it.
The care taken in the restoration and preservation work carried out from the moment it was transferred into Christian hands at the end of the 15th century, and especially in the 19th, 20th and 21st century, makes it possible to admire and experience one of the most emblematic monuments of our past.