The “coolest” place in heat-waved Spain is Alhambra, where the Fountain of Lions newly opened after ten years of restoration
For more than ten years visitors to Alhambra has had to muster all their fantasy in order to visualise the water flowing in the great Court of the Lions. However, these days the head of restoration, Carmen Tienza, and her 278 workers are finalising the reinstallation of the twelve great lions and new hydraulic waterworks. Soon water will again splash quietly seducing the more than 3 mil visitors, which each year climb the citadel in order to experience this magic place.
The fountain of the lion is probably one of the most beautiful pieces of Islamic art ever conceived. Placed in the inner courtyard of the Nasrid dynasty palace, its construction is dated around 1370. The Patio de los Leones – Court of the Lions – is oblong and measures 35 m in length by 20 m in width. It is surrounded by a low gallery supported on 124 white marble columns. A pavilion projects into the court at each extremity, with filigree walls. Up from the ground the walls are covered with blue and yellow tiles bordered above and below with enamelled blue and gold. In the centre of the court is the Fountain of Lions, an alabaster basin supported by the figures of twelve lions in white marble symbolising strength, power, and sovereignty.
The palace is situated on a hilltop covering more than 400 acres and managed by the “Patronato de la Alhambra y el Generalife”, which apart from the beautiful palaces showcases more than 400 plants and a number of wild animals as badgers and a wild boar plus a huge concentration of bird-life. Into this paradise no more than 8400 persons are allowed daily, carefully limiting access in order to preserve the place. Nevertheless budget this year is €25 mil, 11 % more than 2011. Income is not only created through the sale of tickets, but also shopping at the museum etc.
During the restoration – which has cost € 2.2 mil – the courtyard has been repaved with new slabs of marble, replacing the gravel, which has covered the place up until now. Archaeological investigations have shown that at a later point the courtyard was covered with a garden. Originally, however, the floor was covered with a marble pavement made of Macael. This enables visitors to get close to the fountain and thus admire all the details of the carefully cleaned and restored lions; complete with their new ears made of a mixture of lime and marble and happily again sprouting 5000 litres of cool and carefully monitored water from their mouths.
Read more about the restoration at Archaeologia Terrae Antiquae
In need of luxury? Spend the night at the fabulous Parador de Granada located in a former 15th century convent on the site of the Alhambra