Another favourite part of the Nasrid Palaces (and possibly the most famous)!
I was really excited to step into the Court of the Lions after finding out it’s one of the most recently-restored part of the Alhambra. Had I visited the Alhambra just 1.5 years earlier, I wouldn’t have been able to see the splendour of this main court of the Palace of the Lions – it was under restoration for nearly ten years!
This court is such an iconic part of the Alhambra, its significance evident in its status as a UNESCO World Heritage site and it having been minted in Spain’s 2011 limited edition of 2€ Commemorative Coins. (You know once it’s on a coin, it’s legit. 😉 )
This courtyard is at the heart of the private section of the palace; the King’s residence and private apartments are around this court. In the center of the court is the celebrated Fountain of Lions, a magnificent alabaster basin supported by the figures of twelve lions in white marble. A poem by Ibn Zamrak (considered to be one of the most brilliant poets of the Alhambra) was carved on the border of the basin.
There were so many things that grabbed my attention in the court! The beautiful lions, the flowing water, the ornate decorations of the walls and arches… It was a visual sensory overload – a feast for the visual learner me! I can definitely say I spent a long time just staring at everything around me. 😛
It has been said that the structure of the court was influenced by a Christian cloister, but its meaning and origins are connected with the Persian gardens – the root of Islamic gardening.
The court divided in four parts, each one of them symbolizing one of the four parts of the world. Each part is irrigated by a water channel that symbolize the four rivers of Paradise. This court is, therefore, an architectural materialization of Paradise, where the gardens, the water, and the columns form a conceptual and physical unity. The slender column forest have been said to represent the palm trees of an oasis in the desert, deeply related with Paradise in the Nasrid imagination.
There are white marble channels, with jets at the end that send water. These start inside the pavilions and inside the halls of the two other sides and which all get together at the central fountain.
But if you were to ask me…. What really intrigued me was the marble.
Yup, the marble.
Notice what you notice in these following pictures (I have done minimal edits):
Notice how the colour changes depending on the way you look at it? Or really, the way the light reflects on it?
I guess it must be the nature of marbles, I’m not sure, but oh boy, was I filled with such childlike wonder when I realised it! I was running my hands along the marbles, turning around to look at different corners, taking lots of pictures… I definitely had fun in this court!
Besides the marble and the central fountain, delicate arches and columns with slender shafts as well as ornate plaster reliefs add to the beauty and grace of this stunning court!
These photos really don’t do it much justice but oh boy, do they bring back so much memories!