Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The Alhambra

A while back I wrote about the detailed geometric ornamentation of Mughal Musilim architecture I saw while travelling in India earlier this year. As part of that same trip I spent a short time in Spain, and had the chance to visit the imposing Alhambra.

The 10th century fortress occupies most of the hilltop overlooking the city of Granada. Built for the Muslim Nasrid dynasty, it continued to be used and maintained by the overtaking Catholics after the Reconquista (reconquest) in 1492. With the Alhambra as its defense base, Granada was the last of the southern Spanish cities to fall to the Catholics during the Reconquista. Later the palace and grounds fell into disrepair, but has since been restored, including the geometric gardens.

It was intriguing to see the striking similarities in the geometric and calligraphic forms of the architectural details and gardens of the Spanish and Indian styles, as well as the differing techniques used to realise the extensive ornamentation.

While there was some marble inlay, entire rooms were intricately carved in many-layered relief. 

Calligraphic borders delineate different sections of the walls, filling the space between the geometric and floral patterned reliefs.

The indoor and outdoor spaces merge in many-columned open spaces covered by Moorish style "stalactite vaulted" ceilings.

The "honeycomb" ceiling of the Hall of the Abencerrajes epitomises the Moorish style of stalactite vaulting. There are over 5000 honeycomb cells in the ceiling, each different.

No comments:

Post a Comment