Patio de los Arrayanes
Courtyard in Granada
The Patio de los Arrayanes or Court of the Myrtles is the central courtyard of the Palacio de Comares. Which is one of the palaces that make up the Palacio Nazaríes in the Alhambra Complex, in Granada, Spain. This palace was started by Ismail I, continuing through Yusuf I and finished by his son Muhammad V in 1370. It was the official headquarters of the Sultan, although he had other palaces. The original function of Comares was to house the executive, government power.
What does the Patio de los Arrayanes look like?
The Pond of the Patio de los Arrayanes
The patio is divided in two sides by the pond, which is 34 metres long and 7,10 meters wide. The pond is supplied with water by two marble basins located at the north and south end. Its long edges are framed by a corridors of well-trimmed myrtle that form a hedge, in a brilliant green that contrasts with the water. The pond is set around a courtyard paved with sizable white marble slabs, although at the end of the 16th century the floor was enlarged.
Here the water becomes a wonderful mirror where everything takes on a double dimension. Everything is reflected in the pool with precision, giving the feeling of eternity, of infinity.
The Buildings around the Patio de los Arrayanes
There are porticoes to the north and south on the shorter sides of the pool. Both have 7 semicircular arches, the central one being larger, and has solid scallops decorated with stylized vegetal or plant based forms and capitals of mocarabes or stalactite designs. The lateral sections were the women’s residence. On the east side of the courtyard, different doors open leading to the private rooms of the sultan and his court.
The South Gallery of the Patio de los Arrayanes
Two floors rise above the south porch, one with seven wooden lattice windows, the central one being a double one, and the other upper one with a gallery over the patio. The gallery is 7 m (23 ft) high and supported by a marble colonnade. Underneath it, to the right, was the principal entrance, and over it are three windows with arches and miniature pillars.
The vast majority of the inscriptions that appear in this courtyard are praise to God or the Emir. The southern gallery has the following writing on its walls: “The help and protection of God and a splendid victory for our Lord Abu Abd ‘Allah, emir of the Muslims.”
The courtyard was an open esplanade in the days of Yusuf I. His son Muhammad V built the gallery that closes it to the south, thus completing an enclosure that similar to the Greek megaron and the Roman atrium.
The buildings and rooms behind the south portico were destroyed when the Palacio de Carlos V was built, which is now attached and can be accessed via its crypt. The disappearance of these chambers has contributed to the popular belief that Charles V destroyed the winter palace of the Alhambra in order to build his own. However this is not thought to be the case.
The North Gallery of the Patio de los Arrayanes
The north gallery offers many similarities with the south, there are many decorative and epigraphic elements that are traced in it. Behind the north portico the walls of the Torre de Comares are seen rising over it and reflected in the pond. Within that tower we see the largest room in the entire Alhambra, the Hall of Ambassadors, an old throne room. To get to it you must pass through the Barca room, with a beautiful wooden ceiling, a copy of the original that burned in a fire in the 19th century.
In the upper part of the north gallery, after which the Comares Tower stands, there is a parapet with two small lateral towers, which were rebuilt in 1890 when the roof of this gallery and the one in the next room were burned. The ends of the gallery have cupboards with arches, domes of mocárabes, on a tile base from the end of the 16th century, which presents an inscription in its upper part corresponding to a poem by Ibn Zamrak, in honor of Mohamed V after the conquest of Algeciras in 1368.
Where does the name Patio de los Arrayanes come from?
Its current name is due to the myrtle bushes that surround the central pond and the bright green color of which contrasts with the white marble of the patio. It was also called the Patio del Estanque or Patio of the Pond, and Patio de la Alberca or the Patio of the Reservoir because of the central pond. It has also been named after the palace – Patio de Comares or Courtyard of the Comares.
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Visiting Patio de los Arrayanes
For opening times of the Patio de los Arrayanes see Alhambra Opening Times.