Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs
The AlcĂˇzar de los Reyes Cristianos (Spanish for "AlcĂˇzar of the Christian Monarchs"), also known as the AlcĂˇzar of Cordoba, is the medieval castle/fortress, located next to the Guadalquivir River and near the famous Mezquita. The AlcĂˇzar takes its name from the Reyes Cristianos or Christian Monarchs: Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon. The fortress served as one of their primary residences.
While the AlcĂˇzar displays Islamic features, almost all of the structure was built under Christian rule. Originally the Visigoths had a fortress on the site. When the Visigoths fell to the Umayyad conquest of Hispania, the emirs of the Umayyad Caliphate in Damascus rebuilt the structure. The Umayyad's fell to the Abbasid Caliphate and the surviving member of the Umayyad Dynasty, Abd ar-Rahman I, fled to CĂłrdoba. Abd ar-Rahman I's successors established the independent Caliphate of Cordoba and used the AlcĂˇzar as their palace. During Al-Andalus, the city flourished as an important political and cultural center while much of Europe was in the Dark Age. The Moors expanded the AlcĂˇzar to a very large compound with baths, gardens, and the largest library in the West.Watermills on the nearby Guadalquivir powered water lifting to irrigate the extensive gardens. These mills ran until Queen Isabella complained that they made too much noise and kept her awake.
In 1236, Christian forces took Cordoba during the Reconquista. In 1386, Alfonso XI of Castile began building the present day structure on part of the site for the old fortress. Other parts of the Moorish AlcĂˇzar had been given as spoils to the bishop, nobles, and the Order of Calatrava. Alfonso's structure retained only part of the Moorish ruins but the structure appears Islamic since Alfonso used the MudĂ©jar style.
The AlcĂˇzar was involved in the civil war where Henry IV of Castile faced a rebellion that backed his teenage, half-brother Alfonso. During the war, the AlcĂˇzar's defenses were upgraded to deal with the advent of gunpowder. At the same time, the AlcĂˇzar's main tower, now known as the "Inquisition Tower" was constructed.
Henry's successor, Isabella and her husband Ferdinand used the AlcĂˇzar for one of the first permanent tribunals of the Spanish Inquisition and as a headquarters for their campaign against the Nasrid dynasty in Granada, the last remaining Moorish kingdom in the Iberian Peninsula. The Inquisition began using the AlcĂˇzar as one of its headquarters in 1482, converting much of it, including the Arab baths, into torture and interrogation chambers. The Inquisition maintained a tribunal here for three centuries. Boabdil was held prisoner here in 1483 until he promised to make Granada a tributary state. When Boabdil refused to surrender his kingdom in 1489, the Christians launched an attack. Isabella and Ferdinand's campaign against Granada succeeded in 1492. The same year, the monarchs met Christopher Columbus in the AlcĂˇzar as he prepared to take his first voyage to the Americas.
The AlcĂˇzar served as a garrison for Napoleon Bonaparte's troops in 1810. In 1821, the AlcĂˇzar became a prison. Finally, the Spanish government made the AlcĂˇzar a tourist attraction and national monument in the 1950s.
The AlcĂˇzar now serves an important tourist attraction. Many tourists visit the Arab baths, which were actually built under Alfonso XI. Likewise, the Moorish influenced gardens are actually 18th and 19th century constructions. The AlcĂˇzar centers on the Patio Morisco ("Courtyard of the Moriscos"), another popular feature. Tourists may also climb two towers: the Torre de los Leones ("Tower of the Lions) and the Torre de Homenaje ("Tower of Homage"). The latter has gothic features including an ogival ceiling.
A series of Roman mosaics and a Roman sarcophagus are displayed in the Inquisition Tower.
Entrance: Fee - 4â‚¬ (2â‚¬ to students with ID)
Orginal text from wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alc%C3%A1zar_de_los_Reyes_Cristianos