Leones Palace in the Alhambra Granada Andalucia Spain

Exiting the Courtyard of the Myrtles brings you to the Leones Palace, famous for its Courtyard of the Lions, which was the private suites of the sultan. Everyone comes here. Sublime might be too strong a word, but see for yourself. The rooms in the Comares Palace were possibly deemed as insufficient, so Mohammed V built a new set in the 1350s, but almost all of them were destroyed probably during a period of political unrest when Mohammed V briefly lost power to Ismail II and Mohammed VI between 1359 and 1362. He would quickly rebuild them.

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The Leones Palace contains 7 principal elements

This is the centre of the Palace the Courtyard of the Lions

These are the Courtyard of the Lions, the Hall of the Kings, the Hall of Two Sisters, the Courtyard of Lindaraja, the Hall of the Abencerrages and the Harem Courtyard. Each of which tells a story and is deserving of a moment of your time. Pay close attention: the fountains in each pavilion or room on the four sides are directly linked to the main one in the Courtyard of the Lions. Changes were made in the years after the Nasrid sultans surrendered Granada and the Alhambra, but especially during the XIXth Century when restoration work began intermittently.

Oblong-shaped, the Courtyard of the Lions is 35 metres or 120 feet long with a pavilion, which have wooden-coffered ceilings and a perfectly centred fountain, on the east and west sides. There are over 120 marble columns. The tiles shimmer with motion as if water was slowly moving on them. Arches form a protective boundary of the open space. If you move closer to the columns, you can not fail to notice how there is a repetition of support, because pilasters, lintels and wooden eaves follow each other upwards. Only a few small trees add a touch a green. The whole area is paved and walled with multi-coloured tiles. The main attraction is of course the fountain with its 12 lion statues made of marble that represent courage and are supporting a large bowl. They functioned as a clock as water flowed every hour from one to another. Sadly, it does not work anymore, because it was taken apart after the Reconquista but could not be put back together.

Leones Palace in the Alhambra is as you can see aptly named after the lions

The Hall of the Kings dominates the whole east side of the Courtyard of the Lions. Its name provides an apt reason as to why. When not working, the sultan would be found here. Wonderfully organized to suit its role, the hall is divided into 5 chambers, which alternate between dark and illuminated rooms. The sultan sat in the central room with a clear view of the Courtyard of the Lions. The arches separating each area are decorated differently accentuating the effect of light coming through the windows. The ceiling of each lit chamber is painted with different scenes; the one in the central room has 10 people sitting around a table, who are the first ten Nasrid sultans, while the other two are of Muslim and Christian knights duelling over a lady. One can only divine as to the symbolism.

The Palace goes from light to dark and back again