Cultural Bytes | Interactive Language Program

Remnants of the Past

Photo by Austin Gardner from Unsplash
Photo by Austin Gardner from Unsplash

English as a language is constantly thought of as having various influences. English words have French, German, Latin, Spanish, and Greek origins, and that is only to name a few. Yet, other languages have that similarity. Spanish for example has a lot of Arab influences. Many do not know that Moors  had d control over Spain for about 800 years! There are still many remnants of this influence, not only in the language but also in the architecture found in Spain. A perfect example of this is the Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain.

“Many Spanish words that begin with “al-” have most likely originated from Arabic!”

The Alhambra palace is known for its beautiful architecture, gardens and fountains. The name Alhambra comes from the Arabic word that means red or crimson castle, called so because of the reddish color of the walls and towers. The palace’s initial use was for military purposes, as a fortress. It was to be an “alcazaba” (fortress), an “alcazar” (palace), and a small “medina” (city), all in one. Many Spanish words that begin with “al-” have most likely originated from Arabic! The many intended uses of the fortress explains its distinctive features. There is no reference to the Alhambra as being a residence of kings until the 13th century, despite the fortress having existed since the 9th century.

The first kings of Granada had their castles and palaces on the hill of Albaicin. The Nasrites were probably the emirs who built the Alhambra in 1238. The Alhambra became a Christian court in 1492 when the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand II and Isabel I, conquered the city of Granada. During the 18th century and part of the 19th, the Alhambra fell into disrepair. The palace was abandoned and occupied by thieves and beggars. Napoleon’s troops who took over and controlled Granada from 1808 until 1812 converted the palace into barracks. They mined the towers and blew up part of them. The Torre de Siete Suelos and the Torre de Agua were left in ruins. The palace remained neglected until it was declared a national monument in 1870. From that point onward, the alhambra was preserved and restored. In 1984 the Alhambra became a UNESCO World Heritage site.

 

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