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History of Palace of the Christian Kings

Palace of the Christian Kings - C/Caballerizas Reales Cordoba -14009

The “Alcazar” qualified as Historic Monument in June the 4th 1931, and the building was also included in the area declared World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1994; Its gardens are protected by the P.G.O.U. (1986) with the 2B category.

ARCHITECTURE – The “Alcazar” is a square enclosure with its vertexes protected by towers, occupying an area of 4.100 square meters. For the construction of this building they used elements from previous constructions. The Spanish king “Alfonso XI el Justiciero” (Alfonso XI the righteous) created a perfect architectonic complex. He wanted to express with carved stone, the European Gothic Art in a city that had been influenced, for centuries, by the Arab rule. The construction of the Castle-Palace, antagonistic to the Mosque, was a challenge to the Islam world, as a way of expressing the optimism after the victory of those who won a new religion and an economic prosperity.

The principal tower, located at the northeast, has an octagonal shape. It was called “la Torre del Homenaje” (the Homage Tower), because it was the place from which the proclamations of the Kings were done, and where these took an oath and promised to defend the fortress. On the upper floor there is: the principal room, a receiving lounge with vaulted ceilings with ribs that are placed on top of columns with carved capitals with vegetal motifs of French influence. This tower was also called “Torre del Agua” (Water Tower) since it was located over an “aljibe” (water tank) that provided water to the royal baths. The tower is crowned with merlons finished with prisms like the rest of the building. Next to it, there is a smaller tower more elevated, with balconies and a gabled roof, where the condemned to death, by the Inquisition, where hung in front of the people.

The tower located on the northwest side, called “El León” (the Lion), leads to the “Campo Santo de los Mártires” (Martyrs Holly Land) and it is of special importance. This tower is the most archaic of the complex, it has a square section and two floors, wide strips of “Almohade” (Moslem) style and terraces and merlons that finish up the four exterior faces. In its interior, both floors are crowned by groined cross-vaults, with pointed arches and ribs made with stone of Cordoba. Its name (the Lion) is due to one of the gargoyles that are kept in the upper floor.

The third tower, known as the “Inquisition Tower” or the “Gardens Tower”, is located on the southeast side of the building. It was constructed after the other three, and it has a round shape. On the exterior, the brick bond is like the “opus quadratum” (made by the face and headers of the bricks), crowned by a prismatic octagonal element also made with bricks. In the inside, it has three floors, with rooms crowned with semi-circular cupolas. This tower, according to tradition, was used for centuries as an Archive, where valuable documents were kept. The three towers are connected by ramparts, protected with prisms or merlons made with bricks, and openings between them.

In part of its interior, it houses the Moorish courtyard with a rectangular shape; a beautiful example of the Moslem floor plan. A stucco decorated socle, with paintings of castles and lions and Arab ornaments, imitating bows coloured in red ochre, decorate part of its walls. Of the fourth tower, named originally “de la Paloma” (the dove) or “de la Vela”, there is nothing except the information the old engravings provide. Recently, a square structure has been constructed in its place.

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