Pilar de Carlos V

Fountain in Granada

Pilar de Carlos V or Pillar of Carlos V is a fountain located in the Alhambra Complex, in Granada, Spain. The back of the fountain serves as a retaining wall that connects the upper esplanade of the Nasrid gate with the pillar plaza. Its structure extolled the greatness of the Emperor.

It was known as the Pilar de las Cornetas or Cornetas pillar in the 17th century.

What does the Pilar de Carlos V look like?

The Pilar de Carlos V shows two tall figures and a tripartite composition of three different figureheads. They are thought to represent the rivers of Granada, the Darro, the Beiro, and the Genil.  It can also be interpreted as the seasons of summer, spring and autumn, as the fountain heads are adorned with the ears of grain, flowers and fruit.

In the center of the second figure is a modillion, with an inscription alluding to Emperor Charles V, flanked by two pilasters showing the Borgoña and Lorena coat of arms and Hercules’ columns. There is also a semicircular attic, on the tympanum of which is sculpted the imperial coat of arms.

The wall supporting the pillar has four medallions sculpted with three mythological figures:

  • Hercules killing the Lerna Hydra.
  • The sisters of Frixo and Hele crossing the Hellespont astride a ram.
  • Daphne pursued by Apollo.
  • Alexander the Great on horseback.

The heraldry of the Count of Tendilla appears together with that of the Emperor and that of the City of Granada.

History of the Pilar de Carlos V

It was designed by Pedro Machuca and made by the Milanese Niccolo da Corte in 1545, probably commissioned by Íñigo López de Mendoza, Count of Tendilla and then mayor of the Alhambra. Later, in 1624, the Granada sculptor Alonso de Mena made some modifications, after which this fountain was renamed Pilar de las Cornetas.

Where is the Pilar de Carlos V located?

The Pilar de Carlos V is located in the Bosque de Alhambra, at the end of the left road that starts from Puerta de las Granadas, and leads directly to the Puerta de la Justicia, which is one of the entrances to the Alhambra.

It is located beside the Puerta de la Justicia, next to a circular artillery bastion, built in the Christian era by gunner Ramiro, the architect of other bulwarks throughout the Alhambra.

What was the function of the Pilar de Carlos V?

The Pilar de Carlos V served three functions:

  • It served as a watering hole for the cavalries of Carlos V.
  • It constituted an ingenious retaining wall that connects the upper esplanade of the Nasrid gate with the small square of the pillar.
  • It symbolically extolling the greatness of Emperor Charles V.


The Pilar de Carlos V appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Granada!

Other names of Pilar de Carlos V

The Pilar de Carlos V has the following names: Pilar de Carlos V, Pillar of Carlos V, Pilar de las Cornetas.

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Visiting Pilar de Carlos V


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