The Alhambra

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The Alhambra

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In Granada, on a thirty-five-acre plateau atop a last spur of the Sierra Nevada, Spanish Islam erected its last royal palace, the Alhambra. For two and half centuries, twenty sultans of the royal house of Nasrid - named for Nasr, the grandfather of its founder - enjoyed this majestic residence, the last and best-preserved monument of a long-lived culture. Today, it remains a place of perfection, redolent of spiritual balance, not decay.

The Alhambra reveals in its structures and decoration the aptitudes and tastes, the likes and dislikes, of a civilization whose Eastern traces are India's Taj Mahal and the mosques of Samarkand. The plainness of the Alhambra's exterior has its roots in an even older ancestry in the East - Christian as well as Islamic.

Here, from historian Mark James Hamilton, is the dramatic story of the Alhambra and the men and women who called it home.