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Home / Virtual tour / Nasrid Palaces

Harem

Against the popular belief of what a Harem (Harén) was, this one was simply the king's home. The Harem was not a place where the sultan kept his wives isolated, constantly under the vigilant eyes of the eunuchs and where nobody else was allowed. The Harem was just his calm and normal home, without official receptions or protocol, the place where he could spend time with his family. A legend tells a story of Mohammed, who was often visited by friends and the faithful. One day he was playing with his grandchildren when a group of the faithful arrived to his house and, without asking for permission came into the room where Mohammed was playing on the floor with the children. Neither the prophet, nor his disciples enjoyed the scene and after that Mohammed started telling his followers that it was important to fit out a part of the house for the exclusive use of the family, a place visitors would not be allowed to enter. 

It is perhaps due to this common mistake that these chambers were called Harem. This area is where the three wives of the sultan lived, although the forth wife, «the favourite wife» (sultans used to have four wives), lived separately. The fourth wife probably lived in the Tower of the Captive (Torre de la Cautiva), where Mrs Isabel de Solís, known as Zoraya in Granada, lived, as she was Muley Hacén's favourite wife. You may access the Harem going through a corridor illuminated by arches with latticework. The mirador of the south gallery of the Patio of the Lions (Patio de los Leones) is in the middle. Only the patio of these chambers remains, in the middle and with two porticoes, which have three arches each. A central arch, on the eastern portico, leads to the chambers. These chambers disappeared while Charles V Palace (Palacio de Carlos V) was built, but they were exactly like the ones on the western side. The patio walls are decorated with strips, a skirting board painted in ochre, blue and black and an eave that has plasterwork with circles and inscriptions praising the sultan and repeating the dynasty's motto.

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