Maristan at Granada
Granada, Spain
The hospital, or maristan, of Granada is the sole remaining example of this type of civic institution to have survived from the Nasrid period. One of the most important projects associated with the Nasrid sultanate, construction of the hospital was begun during the reign of Muhammad V in 1365 CE and completed two years later. The hospital is located in a prominent position within the Albaicín, Granada's medieval quarter, adjacent to an eleventh-century bath below the walls of the Alhambra.

Constructed of brick and finished with plaster, the two-storey rectangular structure is organized along a north-south axis and measures thirty-eight by twenty six and a half meters. A monumental entrance portal on the northwest side provided access to the interior. Plans drawn by Francisco Enríquez Ferrer and Jules Gailhabaud in the middle of the nineteenth century show four long halls (crujías) with square rooms and staircases at the corners, all disposed around the spacious central courtyard and separated from it by the arcaded portico. Shallow alcoves within the entrance hall were probably used for storage. Excavations conducted within the last few decades indicate that the spacious halls on both levels were divided into smaller rooms (each measuring about six square meters) which could be accessed directly from the portico or the upper gallery. The courtyard measured twenty-six by fifteen meters, and boasted a long rectangular pool at its center. Water issued from two lion-shaped fountains centered on each of the pool's long sides. While the pool's aesthetic qualities are clear, its presence can also be understood on a pragmatic level. In addition to regulating the temperature within the building through the process of evaporative cooling, four sets of steps descending into the pool suggest that it was used for therapeutic bathing.

While very little of the hospital's decorative program has remained in situ, archaeologists have discovered fragments of glazed tile mosaic, carved stucco, and marble which hint at the former richness of the hospital's interior. The entrance portal was also richly decorated. A late nineteenth-century view of the portal by Juan de Dios de la Rada y Delgado shows a set of wooden double doors topped by a flat ornamental lintel of geometric brick ornament. Surmounting the entrance, a niche in the shape of a pointed horseshoe arch, surrounded by a lobed frame and vegetal and geometric ornament, contained the building's foundation inscription executed in glazed ceramic with golden letters on a turquoise ground. The foundation inscription and the two lion fountains are currently on display in the Alhambra Museum, housed within the Palace of Charles V.

In the sixteenth century the hospital came to be known as the Casa de la Moneda (mint), reflecting a change in function which probably occurred after the Castilian conquest of Granada in 1492. By the middle of the nineteenth century the structure was nearly in ruins, and it was partially demolished in 1844. Archaeological excavations and the stabilization of the hospital's remains have been ongoing since the nineteen eighties.

Sources:

J. A. García Granados et. al. 1989. El Maristán de Granada: un hospital islámico, Madrid: Asociación Española de Neuropsiquiatría.

Elizabeth Dean Hermann. "The Maristan of Granada." Urban Formation and Landscape: Symbol and Agent of Social, Political and Environmental Change in Fourteenth-Century Nasrid Granada. Unpublished dissertation, Harvard University. 1996, p. 150-58.

Antonio Orihuela Uzal. 1995. "Granada, Capital del Reino Nazarí." Arquitectura del Islam Occidental. Barcelona: Lunwerg, p. 208

Leopoldo Torres-Balbas, "El Maristán de Granada." Al-Andalus, vol. IX. Madrid-Granada, p. 481-498.
Location
Granada, Spain
Associated Names
Part of Site
Events
1365-7
Style Periods
Nasrid
1232-1492
Variant Names
Maristan at Granada
Granada Hospital
Variant
Maristan of Muhammad V
Variant
Hospital of Muhammad V
Variant
Building Usages
hospital
health care