The Alhambra: A Symbol of the Mezclado of Cultures

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While it may not belong to a city where countless Roman ruins and other magnificent pieces of architecture are found, the Alhambra stands tall like a prizefighting boxer, overcoming all else when it comes to impeccable design. In Spain, where the Alhambra is found, the word “mezclado” signifies a blend or mixture, in this case the combination of Christian and Islamic cultures. A more apt word could not be used in describing the background of this imposing castle on the hillside overlooking Granada.

Construction on many structures within the Alhambra began in the Modehar, or Islamic style. For some edifices within the castle, an interesting shift is seen before the building reaches its completion. Construction in this distinctive Modehar style abruptly stops and is then proceded by a more detailed and lavish Christian style. The change between the two methods of architecture is quite stark, but could be likely remain unseen as well since they are both contained in a single building. The significance of this meetings point cannot be understated. Not only are two religious styles meeting, but two very different cultures as well. In the Alhambra, a gap is quite literally bridged between these two seemingly opposing sides. The symbolism found in this master-class in architecture, carries great weight during current times of unrest between these two parties. The smooth marble, the shade generated by large, imposing buildings, the cool spray of water from its many fountains, all manufacture a feeling that the Alhambra is alive. In the combination of styles, the Alhambra accomplishes a greater level of majesty that could not be achieved through a singular vision. The immense beauty contained within its walls is greater than that of any fairytale, and better yet, it is real. Just as the physical beauty of the Alhambra is unparalleled the beautiful potential of intercultural common ground is displayed as well.

In this palace, a symbol of transnationalism, a magnificence is achieved that surpasses other famous pieces like the Colosseum and the Eiffel Tower. What makes the Alhambra stand out from other feats of design is not its sheer mass, although it is quite impressive in scale, but its grand diversity and cultural leaping history. Gardens, fountains, statues, and building all with unique influences all generate a sense of never-ending wonder. The Alhambra also features a system of obtaining water from over twenty-six miles away to sustain its lush gardens. This feat was achieved far ahead of its time, only to be adopted later by the Romans. Just as it was a trailblazer in its design concepts, the Alhambra is hopefully a signpost for mutual understanding between Christians and Muslim cultures in the future, meeting in peace and resulting in unsurpassed beauty .

 

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