|My guide to the Alhambra began by saying the Alhambra was actually a big city, with almost 2000 people living within or near the walls to support the royalty living within the palaces themselves. Some were tradesmen, some skilled artisans, other servants.
Romans originally called the area Iliberis settling here in around 62 AD. Around the 8th century the Moors took over and called the city Granada after the district in which the Jews were living, Garnatha Al Yahud. In 1013 the capital of the area transferred from Cordova to Granada, marking the beginning of a long period of prosperity for the Moors in Granada, ending in 1492 when Fernando and Isabella put an end to all Moorish rule in Spain. The Nasrite Dynasty began in 1236. It was during this time that the area flourished and the Alhambra was constructed.
The first construction on the site that was later to house the Alhambra complex was in 889 when a portion of the Alcazaba was constructed. It was later extended on various occasions and by the 11th century Moorish kings had established residence on the hill and walled the city. At this time the Alhambra became the most important fortress in Granada.
The three Nasrite Palaces include: the Mexuar (a legal administration building), the Palacio de Comares (the official residence of the King) and the Palacio de los Leones (the King's private residence). It is known alterations were carried out on the Mexuar in 1333 to 1354 and again in 1354 to 1391 before major changes were made to eliminate Islamic reference in favor of Catholic ones around 1500. Construction was begun on the Comares Palace in 1333 and was continued through the next generation to 1391. The Lions Palace was begun around 1354.
The Spanish King following Ferdinand and Isabella, Charles (Carlos) V, appreciated the Moorish architecture and attempted to keep it as intact as possible but eliminated references to Islam and Allah. Mosques were converted to churches.
Carlos V began to construct his palace on the grounds of the Alhambra in 1527 but suspended work in 1568 due to uprisings and restarted the work in 1579 but remains incomplete. Two stories were constructed using very different Renaissance style architecture and a third story, differing from the first two, were planned but never finished. The outside of the structure is a square but the inside courtyard is circular, again with the first story façade very different from the second story. A roof was never put on the second story until the late 20th century when it was decided this s palace would be used as one of the venues for the international dance competition held by Granada. At that point a roof was added. Currently this building houses the Alhambra Museum and the Granada Museum of Fine Arts in addition to various administrative offices.