Postcard from Zaragoza, Spain: Palace celebrates the elevation of Moorish culture

The prominent promotion of culture and arts seemed paramount to Ahmad al-Muqadir (1046-1081) when he focused on the construction of his Aljaferia Palace on the banks of the Ebro River. Zaragoza was the capital of the taifa, or state, under his rule as part of the Banu Hud dynasty, and he wanted his “House of Joy” to reflect its greatness. Heirs to his kingdom followed suit, leaving architectural beauty behind that would influence regional styles for centuries ahead.

In 1110, the last king of the Banu Hud dynasty in Zaragoza was overthrown by rivals. He decided to align himself with the Kingdom of Aragon under the rule of Alfonso I (1073-1134), known as the Battler. When Alfonso proved victorious over the Moorish rulers in Zaragoza, the last Banu Hud king might have felt satisfied by the feelings of revenge but there was no return to power for him. The subsequent kings of Aragon took over Aljaferia for their residence.

Peter IV (1319-1387) greatly expanded the compound, but, instead of destroying the Moorish architectural details, he had the addition constructed in the complimentary Aragonese Mudejar style. Catholic monarchs added an entire new floor in the 15th century, but the handsome style still dominated. It wouldn’t be until the 1500s that the exterior of the palace was completely transformed and turned into a harsh fortress.

Architectural details remaining in the interior, however, are still impressive. In addition to being open to the public as a museum, Aljaferia is home to the Aragonese Parliament.

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