In the poetry or the portraits stitched together by the words of Machado, Granada was water. It flowed, remained hidden, and cried its pains in the Alhambra. The Nasrid city continues to maintain the channels, pools, fountains and cisterns of that joyful time in which the Catholic Monarchs had not yet disputed its rule. The precious Muslim legacy has not been diluted with time, and today we wish to pay it homage in our blog, by recalling some of its history.
By the 11th century, the hands of those who adored Mohammed and believed in the expansion of his kingdom after death, were building the hydraulic network of the Albaicín neighbourhood. A valuable remnant located in the Placeta del Cristo de las Azucenas, next to the Santa Isabel la Real park.
But there was a place where everyone could rest their eyes: The Aljibe del Rey, one of the most important due to its large capacity: 300 m3. It alone could supply the palaces of the Zirid court, and all the buildings adjacent to the Alcazaba. The vaults covering it are pierced. Through these holes rainwater was collected in order to ensure, in times of shortage, the necessary reserves. The water was subsequently made drinkable through a process which is very different to the one used today.
Its ancient tank, or cistern, is quite shallow and is kept in good condition, as is the channel bringing the water from the feeder to the aljibe. The fact that it has remained in good condition after all the centuries that have passed is due to the fact that at that time the maintenance of these constructions was a matter of priority for Arab policy. The stability and survival of the territory and its peoples depended on it.
The aljibes were designed to take full advantage of this most precious resource, although, with the coming of the Catholic Monarchs, water became an object of trade. The Deputy Warden of the Alhambra, Fernando de Contreras, removed the ban in 1605, selling water from the aljibe to the water bearers so that they, in turn, could sell it in the city. The loss of water supply to the neighbours of the Nasrid fortress resulted in requests to King Felipe for their right to be supplied with Granada water without impediment.
If you want to know more about water in Granada and its aljibes, we recommend that you visit Fundación Agua Granada, where you can select routes and guided tours. After that, there is nothing like submerging yourself in the waters of Hammam Al Ándalus. Let your imagination run wild and take you to the magic Andalusian age.