Palace of Charles V Granada Spain

Granada was the last city to be held by the Moors in Spain. By the time Boabdil had to surrender, its high reputation was a combination of art, culture and symbolic value. Thoughts of destroying its most prized treasure, the Alhambra, were not uncommon. In the end, we have to thank Charles V, king of Spain, because he would order the construction of a Renaissance palace to impose some semblance of Christian architecture inside the Alhambra, which would ensure its survival for posterity, although many observers would judge his palace to be out of place beside the Nasrid palaces.


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Charles V became king of Spain in 1516. He was the grandson of the Christian monarchs, Ferdinand V and Isabella I, who conquered Granada and completed the Reconquista. His wife was Portuguese royalty, who disliked living in Moorish buildings and palaces, so he built additions to many Moorish architectural masterpieces, such as the Mezquita in Cordoba; some of which probably worked better than others. Construction began in 1526 upon his simple request that the design must have a chapel and a large front.

To make way for the palace, some buildings had to be torn down. Thankfully, these were in the small Christian quarter. He permitted the governor of the Alhambra to freely choose the architect, who would be Pedro Machuca, an apprentice of Michelangelo and Raphael. The design would be a simple and beautiful one of a round courtyard within a two floor square building. The theme of pairs would repeat itself constantly.

A full grown man at the doors of the Palace of Charles V

The construction was beset by an error early on, because it would be built too close to the Comares palace, as its cornice would be visible when you are walking in the Courtyard of the Myrtles. The chapel was built in the northeast corner of the palace. The entrance was at the west facade that greeted visitors coming from the Puerto del Vino, while the south facade opened unto the Calle Real.


A picture along the front of the palace

The south facade has three female figures representing fame, fecundity and victory, which are visually pleasing, although the west fašade easily commands your attention with its abundance of art. Four sets of two pillars distribute its space on each floor. Three windows are placed between each pair of pillars. There are bas-reliefs on the ground floor pillars, while the shield of Philip II sits above the centre window and door. The columns differ slightly depending on the floor, while round and rectangular windows are regularly paired together.

Once you get inside, you are walking in a space clean of adornments and decorations. Only the courtyard hints at something with its colour and lines. As outside, Doric columns are the choice for the gallery. A staircase leads upstairs to the private rooms bringing the vault and vestibule wonderfully together.


The coloumns inside the courtyard go all the way around

Seen from an altitude or a distance, the palace would easily grab the viewer's attention. Charles V's vision for the Alhambra was never completed, and he never spent one night in it. One could say that Fate was gracious when construction stopped around 1650. The original plan included galleries of pillars in front of the south and west fašade. The current roof was added in the 1960s. The palace is now the home of the Alhambra museum and plays host to the Festival of Music and Dance.