The Alhambra - El Partal

El Partal comes from an Arabic word meaning portico. © Michelle Chaplow
El Partal comes from an Arabic word meaning portico.

El Partal

by Lawrence Bohme


El Partal comes from an Arabic word meaning "the portico", and is the name given to the remains of the residence of Sultan Yusuf III, the northernmost of the Nasrid Palaces. The stately Moorish homes which once filled this part of the Alhambra Hill were allowed to fall into ruin because they were not close enough to the new Christian palace to be conveniently used, by its intended inhabitants, as recreational areas and decorated gardens, of the type so popular during the Renaissance. All that is left now are the archaeological excavations of several of these homes visible among the terraced gardens (planted in the 20th century) - and the picturesque arcade, tower and pond of El Partal.

Near the pond stands a small mosque, one of the most charming buildings of the Alhambra.

It was built atop the ramparts and is barely wide enough for three or four persons to kneel in side by side. The "mezquita del Partal" is the only free-standing mosque conserved in the city.

The higher part of the garden, at the foot of the church of Santa María, was the site of the palace cemetery or rawda, situated next to the Great Mosque. Here we have an external view of the star-shaped "lantern" of the Room of the Abencerrajes.

As we walk up the hill, along the northern ramparts, we pass four towers, each of which has its romantic legend, and which are in themselves precious, miniature palaces. Below we see the Torre de los Picos - the "tower of the pointed battlements"...

...and, higher up on the left, the Torre de las Cautivas and the Torre de la Infanta, with the Monastery (Parador) de San Francisco in the background.

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