The Alhambra and Spain's Islamic Past

Alhambra (Grenada, Spain)

The Alhambra (Grenada, Spain)

Image courtesy of D. Fairchild Ruggles

Alhambra 2 (Grenada, Spain)

The Alhambra (Grenada, Spain)

Image courtesy of D. Fairchild Ruggles

Alhambra Summer Institute Participants

Institute Participants in Grenada

Image courtesy of D. Fairchild Ruggles

Project Directors: D. Fairchild Ruggles (Professor of Landscape Architecture) and Oscar Vázquez (Associate Professor of Art History)

Grant Program: Institutes for College and University Teachers

Years: 20132015

"'The Alhambra and Spain’s Islamic Past' brought 25 college and university professors to the site of the magnificent 13th-14th-century Alhambra palace in Granada to study Spain’s engagement with its diverse cultural and religious histories. Surviving remarkably intact from the Islamic period are palaces with courtyards, gardens, orchards, fountains, harem quarters, towers, miradors, and pavilions. Just as we admire and study these today, they were admired and studied in the centuries since the conquest of Granada in 1492 by visitors who made a record of their impressions in traveler’s accounts, prints, paintings, and photographs. These variously represented the Alhambra as Orientalist fantasy, picturesque playground, archaeological relic, and most recently as celebrated national monument. Through the Alhambra, which provides lasting, material evidence of a cultural past that is very different from the present, the Institute explored the culturally complex history of Muslim-Christian relations from the medieval period to the present.  More broadly, it considered the relationship between nationalism and memory—how a nation like Spain frames its Islamic past—and the importance of architectural monuments to the making of community identity.

"The Institute was directed by D. Fairchild Ruggles and Oscar E. Vázquez and was generously hosted in Granada by the Laboratorio de la Arqueología y Arquitectura de la Ciudad, of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)."

D. Fairchild Ruggles

The Past Five Years