Palace of the Alcazaba
Malaga, Spain
Located on the Southern coast of Spain, Malaga was conquered by the Arabs in 711. By the early eleventh century under the Hammudids it developed into a prosperous settlement, powerfully fortified by a grand military complex consisting of two castles, the Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro (Jabal Faro in Arabic). Occupying the eastern hillside that rises from the sea and overlooks the city, these compounds were constructed on strategic sites that Phoenician, Roman, and Visigothic predecessors had also used. They were revitalized and expanded further under Nasrid rule (1232-1492) with some additions in the sixteenth century.

Like many of the military fortifications that were constructed in Islamic Spain, the Alcazaba of Malaga featured a quadrangular plan. It was protected by an outer and inner wall, both supported by rectangular towers, between which a covered walkway led up the slope to the Gibralfaro. (This was the only exchange between the two sites.) Due to its rough and awkward hillside topography, corridors throughout the site provided a means of communications for administrative and defensive operations, also affording privacy to the palatial residential quarters. The entrance of the complex featured a grand albarrani tower that led into a sophisticated double bent entrance. After passing through several gates, open yards with beautiful gardens, and the inner wall through the Puerta de Granada, one finds the eleventh and fourteenth century governor's palace. It was organized around a central rectangular courtyard with a triple-arched gateway and some of the rooms have been preserved till today. An open eleventh century mirador (belvedere), to the south of this area, affords views of the gardens and sea below. Measuring 2.5 square meters, this small structure highlighted scalloped, five-lobed arches. To the north of this area were a waterwheel and Cyclopean well, penetrating forty meters below ground, a hammam, workshops and the monumental Perta de la Torre del Homenaje, the northernmost point of the inner walls. Directly beyond was the passage to the Gibralfaro above.


Barrucand, Marianne and Bednorz, Achim. 2002. Moorish Architecture in Andalusia. Koln: Taschen, 109, 124-7.

Goodwin, Godfrey. 1990. Islamic Spain. London: Penguin Group, 93-95.

Prince, Danforth and Porter, Darwin. 2003. Frommer's Spain 2003. New York: Wiley Publishing, Inc., 336.

Robertson, Ian. 1980. Blue Guide Spain: The Mainland. London and Tonbridge: Ernest Benn Limited, 504-7.

Ruggles, Fairchild D. 2000. Gardens, Landscape, and Vision in the Palaces of Islamic Spain. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 152-56.

Zozaya, Juan. 1992. The Fortifications of al-Andalus. In Al-Andalus: The Art of Islamic Spain, edited by Dodds, Jerrilyn D. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 63-72.
Malaga, Spain
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1026-1035; 13th -14th C,
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Palace of the Alcazaba
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