The Comares is the most important complex in the Alhambra. It includes the Throne room, also called the Room of the Ambassador. The courtyard is very serene due to it’s simply build architecture. The Comares is part of the Nasrid Palaces. Visitors will go here once they have passed through the Mexuar.
General info Comares
Opening times Comares: The Comares is part of the Alhambra and follows the opening times of the
Tickets and Guided Tours Comares: More information on Tickets and Guided tours Alhambra
Accessibility Comares: More information on accessibility Alhambra
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The Courtyard of the Myrtles was at the center of politics in Granada. In the courtyard the ambassadors hosted big receptions. Visitors who came to visit the sultan in the Alhambra could wait in the courtyard as well. The Comares has been built by two different rulers. Yusuf I built the gallery, Hall of the Boat, The
Comares Tower and the Baths. The rest of the Comares complex was built by his son Muhammad V.
The courtyard lends its name to the myrtle bushes which could be found around the central pool.
The best feature of the courtyard is it’s water. The reflection of the gallery can be seen in the water. This makes a perfect opportunity to get great pictures. Ironically, the Taj Mahal in India uses the same concept, although built much later than the Alhambra.
Tiles of the Alhambra
Throughout the Alhambra you can find a beautiful tiles with different patterns. Most tiles have a motif which dates back to medieval century. Patterns like the tiles in the Alhambra can be found around the world.
In so-called ‘alicatado’ tiling, ceramic pieces are placed upside down on a flat surface. A gypsum plaster is poured over the pieces and let to dry. The edges are smoothed before placing the tiles on the wall. The art of alicatado tiling is lost in Spain unfortunately. However, the craft still exists in Morocco where craftsmen still practise the art.
The clay to make the ceramic came from the banks of the river. Sand was mixed and
used to get the beautiful colours in the ceramic displays. Ceramics go through a cooking process in an oven that
has fire in the base, a baking chamber for the ceramics and outer vent to allow the flow of air. The ceramic tiles can be found throughout the Alhambra.
The Alhambra has two distinctive tiling designs. The mosaic and the alicatado. The mosaics have repeating patterns which can usually be found on the walls. The alicatado tiles do not have a general matrix and can create an illusion that the tiles are moving.
The South Gallery
Initially the South Gallery was an open courtyard during the reign of Yusuf I. His son however, put up a wall and made the courtyard an enclosed space. The central arch of the gallery is higher than the arches next to it. The inscriptions in the plaster and wood are praise to God. Some inscriptions however are directed at the sultan.
Behind the central arch there is the Crypt of the Emperors Palace. The Crypt is unfortunately not accessible for the public.
Above the gallery is a long room with seven windows facing the courtyard. The room was used by ladies who could keep an eye on visitors entering the courtyard without being seen themselves.
The North Gallery
The North gallery is very similar as the gallery on the South side. In fact, many of the epigraphs in the South gallery were copied from the North gallery. The North gallery features a poem by Ibn Zamrak which says:
“You conquered Algeciras with the might of your sword, opening a secret doorway to our victory”.
The coffered ceiling of the gallery was destroyed in a fire in 1890. When restoring the ceiling they used a lot of the burned parts which gives a remarkable design on the ceiling as it is today.
The Hall of the Boat
The ceiling of the Hall of the Boat was destroyed by the fire in 1890 as well. Restoration of the ceiling was finished by 1965. The Hall of the Boat is an anteroom of the Throne room next door. It’s believed that the name of the room comes from the inscriptions which can be found throughout the room which say: “Baraka”, “A blessing on you”. The ceiling of the Hall looks like a boat which is upside down. It might well have been that this visual display gave the name to the Hall of the Boat.
Old writings suggest that the sculpted marble niches on the side of the Hall were used to keep water, perfume or vases of flowers as sign of hospitality.
The Throne room
The Hall of the Ambassadors, or Throne room is the symbolic center of the Nasrid power. The room is beautifully decorated with gold leaf, mosaic tiles, decorated walls and a great ceiling covering the room.
The tower of the Comares might be seen as a defense tower, considering it’s 45 meter height. This is however incorrect. The tower of the Comares was a reception hall and has elegantly designed wooden ceilings in the alcoves at the sides of the room.
The throne room is also known as the Hall of Comares, which means stained glass. The colours in the room are magnificent. The light is dancing in different colour patterns which are coming through the stained glass.
The colours gave the sultan a psychological advantage. Visitors came in via the Boat room and were admiring the colour patterns which were intimidating at the time.
The roof of the throne room features traditional Nasrid carpeting. There are 8.017 separate pieces of wood in seven concentric circles. During restoration a wooden peg was found which had notes engraved on it which referred to the colour scheme of the ceiling.
Ceilings in the Throne room
Written on the supporting ceilings are the words:
“He who created seven heavens, one above the other; you will find no discord in the creation of the Merciful One”
The patterns in the ceiling are believed to reflect the seven heavens since they are seven stars and galaxies that can be made out from the ceiling.
The believe is that the rooms on the upper level are the private rooms of the sultan. The rooms gave a great view on the courtyard and the citadel.
The views from the Comares tower have views on all four horizons. From here the sultan could watch the stars and get a breeze from the wind from all directions.