Alhambra, palace and fortress of the Moorish monarchs of Granada, Spain. The name Alhambra, signifying in Arabic “the red,” is probably derived from the reddish colour of the tapia (rammed earth) of which the outer walls were built.
Constructed on a plateau that overlooks the city of Granada, the Alhambra was built chiefly between 1238 and 1358, in the reigns of Ibn al-Aḥmar, founder of the Naṣrid dynasty, and his successors. The splendid decorations of the interior are ascribed to Yūsuf I (died 1354). After the expulsion of the Moors in 1492, much of the interior was effaced and the furniture was ruined or removed. Charles V, who ruled in Spain as Charles I (1516–56), rebuilt portions in the Renaissance style and destroyed part of the Alhambra in order to build an Italianate palace designed by Pedro Machuca in 1526. In 1812 some of the towers were blown up by a French force under Horace-François-Bastien Sébastiani during the Peninsular War (War of Independence), and the rest of the buildings narrowly escaped the same fate.