Muslim periods in the Alhambra

Muslim periods in the Alhambra

 First period, from Muhammad I to his great grandson Nasr (1232-1314):

Muhammad I (1232-1272) undertook important renovations in the Alcazaba, which underwent a profound transformation compared to what it had been during the Ziri period, erecting a double wall among other construction work. In the Plaza de Armas there was also a major change with new multi-story towers such as Vela Tower or Torre de Homenaje and the military camp with the building of small brick homes.

Muhammad I also built the whole fortified perimeter of the Alhambra, linking the Alcazaba with the rest of the wall and reinforcing it with numerous towers such as the primitive Comares one which is smaller than at present and built into the wall, the primitive Tower of the Picos, which put the Alhambra in communication with the almunia (a type of Andalusian rural building) of the Generalife and the Torre de los Abencerrajes, together with the Justice Gate enclosing the perimeter.

In the period of his son’s rule, Muhammad II (1272-1303), the first great palace was built in the medina in the area called the Partal Alto. La Rawda or Royal Cemetary. It dates back to the time of Muhammad II since he was the first sultan to be buried there. The Palacio de los Abencerrajes also dates back to this time.

His son, Muhammad III (1303-1309), was the one who would really energise the urban development of the Alhambra. He is considered the urbaniser of the medina, giving it the essentials it needed for the city’s development. He built the Madraza de los Príncipes courtyard as well as the Patio de la Machuca. Below his father’s palace he built the Partal Bajo palace. Muhammad III built the Gate of wine in the street Calle Real Alta near the great mosque or aljama, as well as the Polinario public bathhouse. He also built the palace of the ex-convent of San Francisco, and the Medina of the Alhambra during this period, the medina also being known known as the artisan’s quarter of the Secano. Outside the grounds of the Alhambra’s medina Muhammad II built the almunia of the Generalife.

Nasr (1309-1314), the last sultan from this period, built a tower, the Tower of the Peinador de la Reina beside the old Tower of Comares.


In the second period, the dynastic change from the direct line to the secondary one with Isma’il I with it reaching its peak with his son Yusuf I and his grandson Muhammad V (1314-1392)

Ismai’l (1314-1325) built the Mexuar which would later become the Palace of Comares. It has new elements that mark the beginning of genuine Nasrid art creating the cubic capital.

With the arrival of Yusuf I, his son (1325-1354), the golden age of Nasrid art began. He’s the great builder of the Palace of Comares adding the first two courtyards built by Muhammad III to it as well as his father Isma’il’s Mexuar. He added a little mosque or praying chamber similar to the one in the Partal to the Torre de Machuca, with a phenomenal view looking out over the Albaycin. In the Partal Bajo there’s a small mosque and the towers, the Torre of Cadí and the Torre de la Cautiva. In the southern area, the door of the Siete Suelos was built, which provided access to the artisan quarter of the Secano. More importantly, it is the Jusice Gate, the bab Al-Saría.

Muhammad V (1354-1359/1362-1392) represents the height of this period and Nasrid art with the construction of the Palace of the Lions (1380). When Yusuf I died, his father took over finishing the work for the Palace of Comares and remodelled many parts of the medina which had been previously built by Muhammad III. He renovated the decorative work on the eastern façade of the Puerta del Vino and made major changes to the Mexuar hall.


 The third and last period of Nasrid art is characterised by not following the proportional canon of the previous period. This period could be referred to as the one of decline (1392-1492). Little new construction was undertaken in the Alhambra.

Muhammad VII (1392-1408) was the last builder, adding the Torre de las Infantas next to the Torre de la Cautiva.

Yusuff III (1417-1429) only renovated the areas of some already existing palaces such as the Palacio del Partal Alto which was the work of Muhammad II.

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