The Alhambra Museum
Why visit the Museum of the Alhambra?
The Museum of the Alhambra is one of the largest and most important museums in Granada, due to the size of the display and the quality of the items on show. The museum claims to have the best collection of both Nasrid and Mudejar art in the world; Nasrid art is extremely rare, being limited to Granada in the 13th to 15th-centuries, when this dynasty ruled the city. As well as art and architectural artefacts from within the monument, you can see other objects from all over Spain.
Where is the museum?
The Museum is located within the Alhambra Palace, on the south side of the ground floor of the Palace of Charles V. It has seven halls, the first of which houses thematic exhibitions. The subsequent halls follow in chronological order, starting with the oldest paintings and artefacts in the second hall, and so on, until the last hall which shows objects from the most recent historical era.
What can I see there?
The highlight of the museum is the collection of ceramics; don't miss the famous Vase of the Gazelles (Jarron de las Gacelas), which offers a rare and beautiful example of Spanish-Moorish ceramic art; also worth checking out are the magnificent wooden doors from the palace, including those from the Sala de Dos Hermanas (The Room of the Two Sisters), as well as wood coffered ceilings and tiled and stuccoed panels. The museum's own interior design also has some outstanding architectural features: the marble columns and decorative carved skirting, wooden carvings on the walls; even the plasterwork has intricate designs.
In the collection of rare Nasrid items, look out for the carved wooden chessboard, inlaid with birch and walnut wood, and embellished with metal and bone; and also an ataifor - a glazed bowl, white patterned with blue, featuring intricate ataurique decoration (design composed of plant motifs).
As well as objects from within the Alhambra, the museum has other Moorish artefacts from around Spain. The Almanzor font was originally from the Almanzor Palace, in Cordoba, and was later moved to the Alcazaba fortress of the Alhambra. There is also an ovoid shaped Moorish incense burner from the Mercedarias convent in Madrid.
Queen Isabel´s personal collection of art and artefacts are displayed within the Royal Chapel. also within the Alhambra, along with the Queen's Sceptre and Crown, and the sword and crown of King Ferdinand.
What's the history of the exhibits?
The collection and preservation of these objects has been going on for centuries; although many Moorish artefacts were destroyed over the years, thankfully, a number did survive. After the Christian conquest, the Palaces of the Alhambra were occupied by the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabel, who refurbished it to suit their own tastes and modified some of the rooms. Anything found in the palace considered of value was protected, and even reused and enjoyed by the Court. Those items considered too valuable for the Court were later used to decorate the royal chambers, or were stored inside the palaces.
It is miraculous in fact that so many artefacts remain for the exhibition - not only did these artefacts withstand the anti-Moorish purge of the Reconquista, they have survived centuries of warfare and neglect. From the late 16th century the Alhambra was left to decay, and during the 18th century the palace was overrun with thieves and beggars, who lived in its buildings. During the Napoleonic war the palace was converted into military barracks, and two of the original towers were destroyed during this time. In 1870, the Alhambras fortunes finally changed for the better, and it was declared a national monument. At this point, any remaining objects were removed and preserved in this Museum.
Tuesday - Sunday: 8:30 - 14:30.
Tuesday - Sunday (from 16 June - 15 September): 8:30 - 14:00.
24 December - 6 January: 8:30 -13:45.
Easter: 8:30 - 13:45.
Corpus Christi: 8:30 - 13:45.
CLOSED: 1 January and 25 December
Free with your Alhambra ticket.
Tel: 958 027 900 / 958 027 929
Email: [email protected]
Hotels within the Alhambra's grounds
Hotels within the Alhambra's grounds
This itinerary was written for Andaluca.com by Lawrence Boheme author of “Granada, City of My Dreams”. For, what fascinates us about this universal city is not only its monuments but its marvellous story, “the encounter between Moor and Christian, gypsy and Jew, medieval and Renaissance, glistening snow and Mediterranean sun. Lawrence Bohme, poet, illustrator and curious traveller, has filled these pages with luminous descriptions and drawings, the culmination of forty years of wanderings through the palaces and labyrinths.