The Alhambra (الْحَمْرَاء), Al-Ḥamrāʾ meaning the "The Red One", is a palace and fortress complex located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain. It was originally constructed as a small fortress in 889 CE on the remains of Roman fortifications, and then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-13th century by the Nasrid emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada, who built its current palace and walls.
It was converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada. After the conclusion of the Christian Reconquista in 1492, the site became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella (where Christopher Columbus received royal endorsement for his expedition), and the palaces were partially altered in the Renaissance style. In 1526 Charles I & V commissioned a new Renaissance palace better befitting the Holy Roman Emperor in the revolutionary Mannerist style influenced by humanist philosophy in direct juxtaposition with the Nasrid Andalusian architecture, but it was ultimately never completed due to Morisco rebellions in Granada.
Torre De Las Damas, the Ladies Tower, is the most important building of those that belonged to the magnates who lived around the Royal Palace during the Arab period and its decoration is the oldest of the Alhambra. It has received many and different names, depending on who inhabited it, although since the late 18th century it was called the Ladies Tower. To the left of this tower are three small Arab houses that were built after the tower. Some paintings were found in one of these houses. They are of especial interest, as they are the only ones of that specific type within the Muslim period in Spain that have been preserved.
Patio de los Leones, Court of the Lions (بهو السباع), is the main courtyard in the heart of the Alhambra. It was the innermost and most private courtyard of the Nasrid Palace, was reserved for the ruler and his household. In the centre of the courtyard water sparkles from a fountain basin to fall through the mouths of twelve stylised lions into four streams that run towards the colonnaded sides. The pillars –light, slender trunks– gather together in a pavilion at each end of the patio around tiny fountains. Here they support, like a canopy, filigreed, muqarna (honeycomb) arches that echo the protective role of the palm leaves around oasis pools in the desert.
Palacio de Carlos V, the Palace of Charles V was designed by the Spanish architect Pedro Machuca in 1528 and was begun in 1533, but was never completed. Located within the Alhambra complex, the palace's northeast corner abuts the Court of the Lions and the Court of the Myrtles. The palace, whose construction necessitated some destruction to the Nasrid palaces and cemeteries, has a strict geometric plan, with a circular courtyard inscribed within the square block containing the various rooms.
Torre de la Vela, the Watchman's Tower is the largest tower of the ancient fortress of Alhambra.