A visitor here would have stepped from the glaring Court of Myrtles into this dim, cool, incense-filled world, to meet the silhouetted sultan. Imagine the alcoves functioning busily as work stations, and the light at sunrise or sunset, rich and warm, filling the room.
Note the finely carved Arabic script. Muslims avoided making images of living creatures — that was God's work. But they could carve decorative religious messages. One phrase — "only Allah is victorious" — is repeated 9,000 times throughout the palace. Find the character for "Allah" — it looks like a cursive W with a nose on its left side. The swoopy toboggan blades underneath are a kind of artistic punctuation setting off one phrase.
In 1492, two historic events likely took place in this room. Culminating a 700-year-long battle, the Reconquista was completed here as the last Moorish king, Boabdil, signed the terms of his surrender before eventually leaving for Africa.
And it was here that Columbus made his pitch to Isabel and Ferdinand to finance a sea voyage to the Orient. Imagine the scene: The king, the queen, and the greatest minds from the University of Salamanca gathered here while Columbus produced maps and pie charts to make his case that he could sail west to reach the East. Ferdinand and the professors laughed and called Columbus mad — not because they thought the world was flat (most educated people knew otherwise), but because they thought Columbus had underestimated the size of the globe, and thus the length and cost of the journey.
But Isabel said "Sí, señor." Columbus fell to his knees (promising to pack light, wear a money belt, and use the most current guidebook available). quote here.
I also found this sweet storybook of Spanish folktales gorgeously illustrated by Emma Brock. Spain, and Columbus... it all weaves together in a fascinating way, doesn't it?