The Tales of the Alhambra

In 1832, Washington Irving, talented American writer to whom we owe in particular Sleepy Hollow: The Legend headless horseman, publish The Tales of the Alhambra. The novelist, essayist and biographer depicts the features of Granada, its romantic atmosphere, its traditions, but also its legends around the Alhambra where he himself lived for a few years.

The Tales of the Alhambra

The Tales of the Alhambra

A commemorative plaque and a statue pay homage to Irving. "This strong mixture of Buckwheat and Gothic, which dates from the time of the Moors, and with the particular character of certain street scenes which reminded us of passages from the Thousand and One Nights", he writes of this architectural masterpiece. But let's take a closer look at these myths mentioned by the author.

Legend of the Abencerrajes room

A family of the Muslim nobility who once lived in the Alhambra, the Abencerrajes (or Abencérages) would have suffered the wrath of the Zenetes, their political rivals. The story goes that the latter invented a romantic relationship between their sultana and one of the Abencerrajes, which had the consequence of putting Sultan Boabdil, the last Nasrid emir of Granada, beside himself.

According to legend, he then organized a party during which he made decapitate 36 horsemen and members of the Abencerrajes family in the hall to the south of the Court of the Lions which today bears their name. The reddish color of the stone of the fountain would come from this bloodthirsty massacre. But according to Washington Irving these facts would not be real and would emanate from a historical confusion with former Nasrid emirs.

Legend of the Gate of Justice

On the door of the Tower of Justice, one of the main entrances to the Alhambra, is represented on the interior arch a key. The outer arch is decorated with a hand whose fingers symbolize the five pillars of Islam (belief in one God, the five daily prayers, alms, fasting and the pilgrimage to La Mecca). The legend says that the day when this key and this hand will come together, that is, when the Alhambra collapses, will coincide with the end of the world.

Legend of the Moor's Chair

Higher on the Sabika hill where the Alhambra is erected, there is a very special chair. It was in this precise spot that Boabdil the Moor watched helplessly during his reign the growing revolt in his city of Granada. From all up there, he was able to contemplate the extent of the damage caused by this insurrection in the Nasrid palaces and throughout the Andalusian city.