The Alhambra is a palace and fortress complex, one of Spain's major tourist attractions, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the inspiration for many songs and stories.
It was originally constructed as a small fortress in AD 889 on the remains of Roman fortifications, and then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-13th century by the Moorish emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada, who built its current palace and walls. It was converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada.
After the conclusion of the Christian Reconquista in 1492, the site became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella (where Christopher Columbus received royal endorsement for his expedition), and the palaces were partially altered to Renaissance taste.
After being allowed to fall into disrepair for centuries, Alhambra was rediscovered following the defeat of Napoleon, who had conducted retaliatory destruction of the site; the re-discoverers were first British intellectuals and then other north European Romantic travelers. Moorish poets described it as "a pearl set in emeralds," an allusion to the colour of its buildings and the woods around them.
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