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Aljafería

Aljafería

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The Aljafería Palace is a fortified medieval Islamic palace built during the second half of the 11th century in the Moorish
Moors
The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

 taifa of Zaragoza
Taifa of Zaragoza
The taifa of Zaragoza was an independent Muslim state in Moorish Al-Andalus, present day eastern Spain, which was established in 1018 as one of the taifa kingdoms, which emerged in the 11th century following the destruction of the Caliphate of Córdoba in the Moorish Iberian Peninsula.During the...

 of Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

, present day Zaragoza
Zaragoza
Zaragoza , also called Saragossa in English, is the capital city of the Zaragoza Province and of the autonomous community of Aragon, Spain...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. It was the residence of the Banu Hud
Banu Hud
The Banu Hud were an Arab dynasty that ruled the taifa of Zaragoza from 1039-1110. In 1039, under the leadership of Al-Mustain I, Sulayman ibn Hud al-Judhami, the Bani Hud seized control of Zaragoza from a rival clan, the Banu Tujibi...

 dynasty during the era of Abu Jaffar Al-Muqtadir after abolishing Banu Tujibi
Banu Tujibi
The Banu Tujibi were a dynasty that were appointed to govern Catalayud in 872, and in 886 were given Zaragoza. This they held as governors under the Umayyads...

 of Kindah
Kindah
The kingdom of Kindah was a vassal kingdom which ruled from Qaryah dhat Kahl in Nejd, Central Arabia . The kingdom controlled much of the northern Arabian peninsula in the 4th and 5th centuries AD.-Origin:...

 dynasty. the palace reflects the splendor attained by the kingdom of the taifa of Zaragoza at the height of its grandeur. The palace currently contains the Cortes (regional parliament) of the autonomous community of Aragon
Aragon
Aragon is a modern autonomous community in Spain, coextensive with the medieval Kingdom of Aragon. Located in northeastern Spain, the Aragonese autonomous community comprises three provinces : Huesca, Zaragoza, and Teruel. Its capital is Zaragoza...

.

The structure holds unique importance in that it is the only conserved testimony of a large building of Spanish Islamic architecture
Islamic architecture
Islamic architecture encompasses a wide range of both secular and religious styles from the foundation of Islam to the present day, influencing the design and construction of buildings and structures in Islamic culture....

 of the era of the Taifa
Taifa
In the history of the Iberian Peninsula, a taifa was an independent Muslim-ruled principality, usually an emirate or petty kingdom, though there was one oligarchy, of which a number formed in the Al-Andalus after the final collapse of the Umayyad Caliphate of Córdoba in 1031.-Rise:The origins of...

s (independent kingdoms).

History


After the capture of Zaragoza in 1118 by Alfonso I of Aragon
Alfonso the Battler
Alfonso I , called the Battler or the Warrior , was the king of Aragon and Navarre from 1104 until his death in 1134. He was the second son of King Sancho Ramírez and successor of his brother Peter I...

, the Aljaferia became the residence of the Christian kings of the Kingdom of Aragon
Kingdom of Aragon
The Kingdom of Aragon was a medieval and early modern kingdom in the Iberian Peninsula, corresponding to the modern-day autonomous community of Aragon, in Spain...

 and as such was converted into the focal point for spread of the Mudéjar Architecture of Aragon
Mudéjar Architecture of Aragon
Mudéjar Architecture of Aragon is an aesthetic trend in the Mudéjar style, which is centered in Aragon and has been recognized in some representative buildings as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO....

. It was the birthplace of Saint Isabel of Portugal
Elizabeth of Aragon
Elizabeth of Aragon, also known as Saint Elizabeth of Portugal, T.O.S.F. , was queen consort of Portugal, a tertiary of the Franciscan Order and is venerated as a saint of the Roman Catholic Church.-Biography:Elizabeth was a descendant of one of the most powerful families in Europe:...

 in the year 1271. It was used as the royal residence by Peter IV of Aragon
Peter IV of Aragon
Peter IV, , called el Cerimoniós or el del punyalet , was the King of Aragon, King of Sardinia and Corsica , King of Valencia , and Count of Barcelona Peter IV, (Balaguer, September 5, 1319 – Barcelona, January 6, 1387), called el Cerimoniós ("the Ceremonious") or el del punyalet ("the one...

 and subsequently, on the principal building site, a renovation was carried out that converted these chambers into the palace of the Catholic Monarchs
Catholic Monarchs
The Catholic Monarchs is the collective title used in history for Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon. They were both from the House of Trastámara and were second cousins, being both descended from John I of Castile; they were given a papal dispensation to deal with...

 in 1492. In 1593, the structure experienced another renovation that converted it into a military base, first according to Renaissance designs
Renaissance architecture
Renaissance architecture is the architecture of the period between the early 15th and early 17th centuries in different regions of Europe, demonstrating a conscious revival and development of certain elements of ancient Greek and Roman thought and material culture. Stylistically, Renaissance...

 (which today can be observed in its moat and gardens) and later as military quarters. The building suffered continuous alterations and considerable imperfections, above all with the Siege of Zaragoza during the Peninsular War
Peninsular War
The Peninsular War was a war between France and the allied powers of Spain, the United Kingdom, and Portugal for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when French and Spanish armies crossed Spain and invaded Portugal in 1807. Then, in 1808, France turned on its...

 until it was finally restored in the second half of the 20th century and currently it houses the Cortes or autonomous community legislative assembly of Aragon.

In the original construction, extra ramparts were made in the open field surrounding the Aljaferia. With urban expansion over the years, the building has remained inside of the city. Yet the city of Zaragoza has not been able to honor the landscaped surroundings of the Aljaferia. A freeway passes only a few meters away.

Troubadour Tower


The oldest construction of the Aljaferia is called Troubadour Tower. The tower received this name from Antonio Garcia Gutierrez
Antonio García Gutiérrez
Antonio García Gutiérrez was a Spanish Romantic dramatist.After having studied medicine in his native town, he moved to Madrid in 1833 and earned a meager living by translating plays of Eugène Scribe and Alexandre Dumas, père...

’s 1836 romantic drama The Troubadour. The drama was converted into a libretto for Giuseppe Verdi
Giuseppe Verdi
Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was an Italian Romantic composer, mainly of opera. He was one of the most influential composers of the 19th century...

’s opera
Opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

 Il trovatore
Il trovatore
Il trovatore is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, based on the play El Trovador by Antonio García Gutiérrez. Cammarano died in mid-1852 before completing the libretto...

 
in 1853.

The tower is a defensive structure, with a quadrangular base and five levels which date back to the end of the 9th century AD, in the period governed by the first Banu Tujibi
Banu Tujibi
The Banu Tujibi were a dynasty that were appointed to govern Catalayud in 872, and in 886 were given Zaragoza. This they held as governors under the Umayyads...

, Muhammad Alanqur, who was named for Muhammad I of Córdoba
Muhammad I of Córdoba
Muhammad I was the Umayyad emir of Córdoba from 852 to 886 in the Al-Andalus .-Biography:Muhammad was born in Córdoba...

, independent Emir
Emir
Emir , meaning "commander", "general", or "prince"; also transliterated as Amir, Aamir or Ameer) is a title of high office, used throughout the Muslim world...

 of Cordoba
Córdoba, Spain
-History:The first trace of human presence in the area are remains of a Neanderthal Man, dating to c. 32,000 BC. In the 8th century BC, during the ancient Tartessos period, a pre-urban settlement existed. The population gradually learned copper and silver metallurgy...

. According to Cabañero Subiza (1998) the Tower was built in the second half of the 10th century. In its lower part, the tower contains vestiges of the beginning of the heavy walls of alabaster
Alabaster
Alabaster is a name applied to varieties of two distinct minerals, when used as a material: gypsum and calcite . The former is the alabaster of the present day; generally, the latter is the alabaster of the ancients...

 ashlar bond masonry
Ashlar
Ashlar is prepared stone work of any type of stone. Masonry using such stones laid in parallel courses is known as ashlar masonry, whereas masonry using irregularly shaped stones is known as rubble masonry. Ashlar blocks are rectangular cuboid blocks that are masonry sculpted to have square edges...

, and continues upwards with plank lining of simple plaster
Plaster
Plaster is a building material used for coating walls and ceilings. Plaster starts as a dry powder similar to mortar or cement and like those materials it is mixed with water to form a paste which liberates heat and then hardens. Unlike mortar and cement, plaster remains quite soft after setting,...

 and lime
Lime (mineral)
Lime is a general term for calcium-containing inorganic materials, in which carbonates, oxides and hydroxides predominate. Strictly speaking, lime is calcium oxide or calcium hydroxide. It is also the name for a single mineral of the CaO composition, occurring very rarely...

 concrete
Concrete
Concrete is a composite construction material, composed of cement and other cementitious materials such as fly ash and slag cement, aggregate , water and chemical admixtures.The word concrete comes from the Latin word...

, which is a thinner substance for reaching greater heights. The exterior does not reflect the division of the five internal floors and appears as an enormous prism, broken by narrow embrasure
Embrasure
In military architecture, an embrasure is the opening in a crenellation or battlement between the two raised solid portions or merlons, sometimes called a crenel or crenelle...

s. Access to the interior was gained through a small door at such height that it was only possible to enter by means of a portable ladder. Its initial function was, by all indications, military.

The first level conserves the building structure of the 9th century and shelters two separated nave
Nave
In Romanesque and Gothic Christian abbey, cathedral basilica and church architecture, the nave is the central approach to the high altar, the main body of the church. "Nave" was probably suggested by the keel shape of its vaulting...

s and six sections, which are separated by means of two cruciform pillars and divided by lowered horseshoe arcs. In spite of its simplicity, they form a balanced space and could be used as baths.

The second floor repeats the same spatial scheme as the previous floor, and the remains of Muslim brick-work from the 11th century can be seen in the brick façades, which indicates that the second floor was possibly reconstructed at the same time as the palace during the epoch of Al-Muqtadir
Al-Muqtadir
Al-Muqtadir was the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad from 908 AD to 932 AD .After the previous Caliph, al-Muktafi, was confined for several months to his sick-bed, intrigue was made for some time as to his successor...

.

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