Palace of Charles V

The Alhambra, Granada

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 Visited September 23 and 24, 2008

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The Alhambra and Generalife, Granada


Palace of Charles V -- Alhambra

And now, as the zany sages say, time for something completely different. Despite the fact that we are in the place of incredible Moorish medieval architecture, Dick's favorite building was the Renaissance palace of Carlos V.

Palace of Charles V -- Alhambra

This may not belong here -- but it is beautiful and one of the best proportioned buildings anywhere. Carlos V, grandson of the conquering Ferdinand and Isabel who drove the Muslims from Spain, thought he would build a palace to rival that of the Nasrids.

Palace of Charles V -- Alhambra

The Moors were tolerant rulers and the Christians had a neighborhood adjacent to the Nasrid palace. This palace was built in that spot.

While it may have been incongruent within a Moorish jewel, its very existence probably saved the Alhambra from destruction. You couldn't destroy a palace of the king and its grounds.

Palace of Charles V -- Alhambra

Above is a software pastiche which does not do justice to the front facade of the palace. It is, indeed, flat -- the side of a square. It's built in the style of its day -- Italian Renaissance.

A perfect circle within a near-perfect square

Emperor Carlos V took little interest in its construction; he left that to the governor, a scion of the noble Mendoza family. Note here the 8 Ionic pilasters which will be repeated en masse (but in 3 dimensions) in the interior portico. Also note the circle and the square window patterns of the first floor. The crest of Carlos's son, Philip II, centers the whole facade.

Palace of Charles V -- Alhambra

This Google-eye view shows the perfect circle within the perfect square -- completely symmetrical except for the rise of the chapel roof at one corner. The roof over the circular galleries was added only in 1960.

The collonnaded courtyard

Palace of Charles V -- Alhambra

Architect Pedro Machuca had trained with Michelangelo and Rafael. While appearing today quite classic, this was a radical building for its day as much Spanish monumental architecture was emerging from the Gothic era.

Palace of Charles V -- Alhambra

Here Doric (lower level) and Ionic (upper) capitals hold up curving Tuscan lintels on both floors.

Palace of Charles V -- Alhambra

Construction of the palace started around 1528 -- two decades before Michelangelo became architect of St. Peter's in Rome.

Palace of Charles V -- Alhambra

Here's the interior of the gallery. Ironically, this was never occupied as a royal palace -- or even finished. Emperor Carlos concluded that the seat of his realm must be more central in Spain than the southern city of Granada.

Palace of Charles V -- Alhambra

Groups meet at the center where acoustics tend to be excellent, focused in by the walls.

Palace of Charles V -- Alhambra

Above is a close-up of the façade.

Next, we visit some of the the lesser buildings of the Alhambra.  Join us by clicking here.

Previous: Generalife Gardens          Next: Other Alhambra Buildings

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Created on 28 August 2009

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