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The Art of JAMA
July 7, 2015

Garden of the Generalife in Granada: Théo van Rysselberghe

JAMA. 2015;314(1):10-11. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.11839

The Alhambra is a medieval palace in the Mudéjar style, a blend of Gothic architecture and Islamic design, on a wooded ridge overlooking the Spanish city of Granada. It was established as a fortress and royal residence by Mohammed ben Al-Hamar, founder of the Nasrid dynasty, in the 13th century and added onto by his descendants, so that each room and courtyard has unique features contributed by Muslim, Jewish, and Christian artisans of different eras. The Alhambra lost its standing as a seat of government in 1492 when the Nasrids were defeated by the Spanish kingdoms of Aragon and Castile. In 1527 King Charles V of Spain took down some interior walls to build a residence, but this was the last major addition for hundreds of years. When travelers rediscovered the Alhambra in the 19th century, it was a shambles; the process of cleaning and repairing its slim arches, painted tiles, and elaborate facades was laborious, but eventually the Alhambra was opened for tourism, and in 1984 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with its nearby retreat, the Palacio de Generalife.