The Mexuar is part of the Nasrid Palaces inside the Alhambra. Over the years, the Mexuar has gone over several changes. During Christian ruling, it was transformed several times to suit to the new functionality which was required by their Governors. As the shape and function of the Mexuar changed a lot, it’s almost impossible to know the exact location of it’s entrance back in the time when it was built.
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The Palace of Charles V is designed by architect Pedro Machuca. The courtyard of the Mexuar has been named after him. Pedro Machuca lived in the tower on the North Side of the courtyard overlooking the river Darro. The courtyard has a beautiful gallery. Opposite the gallery there is an identical gallery of which only remains exist in this day.
The Hall of the Mexuar is most likely the oldest part of the Palaces. During the year, the Hall has transformed a lot by different rulers. It’s believed that the court of justice convened in the Hall of the Mexuar. The Christian rulers changes the Hall into a chapel which changed the Hall once more.
The small door in the Hall of Mexuar has been designed and built at a later stage. The original Hall was illuminated by daylight which came in via stained glass panes in the roof. Later on the glass has been replaced by a nicely carved wooden ceiling.
At the door there was a tile with inscription: “Enter and ask. Do not be afraid to seek justice for here you will find it’’.
Look up at the ceiling and pay attention to the darker colours in the higher parts of the ceiling. These darker parts are the original colours of the Hall of the Mexuar.
The stars in the Hall of Mexuar are fascinating. The stars bring together symbols from both Muslims and Christians. It was the desire to bring both cultures together.
At the end of the main Hall you will find the Mexuar Oratory. The Oratory overlooks the Albaicin. In 1590 there was a gunpowder explosion in the factory in the valley below. The Oratory sustained a lot of damage by the explosion. A full restoration of the Oratory has only been finished in 1917. The entrance to the Oratory in Nasrid times was via the Machuca gallery.
A lot of the original decorations have been lost unfortunately. However the Oratory played an important part in Muslim culture. Oratories can be found around the world for Muslims to pray towards Mecca. If you look at the blueprint of the Mexuar, you will see that the Oratory is not positioned in line with the rest of the building. Because of its religious function, it’s faced towards Mecca.
One of the most famous inscriptions can be found around the mihrab. It says “Do not be negligent: come to prayer”.
The Courtyard of the Mexuar has been called the Courtyard of the Mosque. However, it’s unclear why this was the case.e The small courtyard has a beautiful facade on one side which should have been the entrance to the Comares Palace. On the other side of the courtyard there is a portico which leads to the Golden Chamber.
The courtyard has been renovated during the years. The renovators did a great job, as much of the original details can now be admired for later generations.
In the middle of the courtyard you can see a fountain. Although not original, it’s a copy of the original fountain from the early days. At the East wall there is a tunnel which leads to the Bathhouse in the Comares Palace. On both sides of the tunnel there are small rooms, which functioned as room for the soldiers and guards.
It’s believed that the Golden Chamber was the waiting room during Nasrid times where visitors had to wait before being admitted to the sultan. The roof of the Golden Chamber has beautiful wooden carvings. The roof has been restored during the reign of the Catholics. Nonetheless, visitors should definitely have a look at the roof which include some nicely done Gothic motifs.
The Fachada de Comares has been restored in the XIX century. The detailed decoration becomes more intricate when going upwards. The Facade as we can see it at this point in time was made as commemoration of the siege of Algeciras by Muhammad V in 1369.
“The only conqueror is God” is the motto of the Nasrid dynasty.
The inscription which can be found in the facade reads:
“My position is that of a crown and my door is a parting of the ways: the West believes that in me is the East. Al-Gani bi-llah has entrusted me to open the way to the victory that has been foretold and I await his coming just as the horizon ushers in the dawn. May God adorn his works with the same beauty that resides in his countenance and his nature”.