One of Spain’s most enduring historical mysteries is close to being solved as experts undertake a project to decipher more than 10,000 Arabic inscriptions adorning the walls and ceilings of the Alhambra palace in Granada.
Researchers armed with digital cameras and 3D laser scanners are for the first time cataloging and translating the intricately carved words that have fascinated centuries of visitors at Spain’s most popular tourist attraction.
“There is probably no other place in the world where studying walls, columns and fountains is so similar to turning the pages of a book,” said Juan Castilla, of Spain’s Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), who heads the team.
Many inscriptions consist of aphorisms, terse sayings embodying a general truth, such as “Be sparse in words and you will go in peace” and “Rejoice in good fortune, because Allah helps you.” What the researchers have found so far is that, contrary to popular belief, verses from the Koran and poetry represent only a tiny minority of the messages in classical Arabic that cover the Alhambra, Europe’s finest example of Muslim architecture. … Instead the elegant Arabic script contains a large amount of sloganeering, predominantly praise for the Nasrid dynasty who ruled Granada for two and half centuries. The Nasrid motto – “There is no victor but Allah” – is the most common inscription found so far. The next most common messages are isolated words like “happiness” and “blessing” that are thought to be expressions of divine wishes for the Muslim rulers of Granada.
Here is the wikipedia scoop on this place:
The Alhambra (from Arabic الْحَمْرَاء = Al-Ħamrā’, literally “the red one”; the complete name was الْقَلْعَةُ ٱلْحَمْرَاءُ = al-Qal’at al-Ħamrā’ = “the red fortress”) is a palace and fortress complex of the Moorish rulers of Granada in southern Spain (known as Al-Andalus when the fortress was constructed during the mid 14th century), occupying a hilly terrace on the southeastern border of the city of Granada.
Once the residence of the Muslim rulers of Granada and their court, the Alhambra is now one of Spain’s major tourist attractions exhibiting the country’s most famous Islamic architecture, together with Christian 16th century and later interventions in buildings and gardens that marked its image as it can be seen today. Within the Alhambra, the Palace of Charles V was erected by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor in 1527.