Moorish Architecture in Granada

The AlhambraThe most captivating and prevalent architectural presence in Granada hails from its nearly eight centuries under Islamic rule. As the longest lasting Islamic kingdom of Andalucía, where cities like Sevilla and Córdoba still serve as reminders of the epoch, Granada is considered the "Moorish jewel"- and for good reason!

Moorish architecture is one of refined sophistication and unrivalled exuberance. All it takes is a glance at the ornately carved ceilings and walls, the incredible tile work, and the elegant horseshoe and lobed arches and you'll understand exactly what we're talking about.

Another major characteristic of Moorish architecture is the integration of nature, which often even surpasses the architecture as the focal point. The use of light plays a major role- depending on the desired atmosphere of a room or courtyard, the light may be full-on, filtered, reflected, or made to create creative designs across the floor. Water is possibly even more important.

Patio del GeneralifeAs Moorish architecture stems from a community typically living in desert conditions, water is also a pretty big deal. In La Alhambra, for example, you'll notice that nearly every room, courtyard, and garden somehow fits it into the design whether it be through a fountain, a tiny canal running through the floor, or a reflecting pool.

In respect to constructions of the common folk, in other words those who didn't dwell in La Alhambra, you'll notice quite a few patterns throughout the Albaicín, Granada's Moorish quarter. White-washed buildings constructed practically right on top of one another along with the narrow streets and shady, intimate courtyards together keeps the district cooler as it avoids direct sunshine.

The integration of nature in Moorish architecture is equally as important in the urban setting as in the palatial setting. The district is full of lightly babbling fountains as well as the neighborhood's many "cármenes." Cármenes are essentially extremely colorful gardens set within the walls of a Moorish home full of aromatic flowers, trees, and vines- in fact, these gardens are so lush that you'll often see flowering vines spilling picturesquely right over the white-washed wall edges!