Museums Spain

Granada's Alhambra throws open doors of Washington Irving's royal chambers

Rooms where American writer stayed in Spain are revealed for January only

Emperor's Chambers

Visitors this month to the Moorish palace overlooking the southern Spanish city of Granada will be able to see the rooms where the American writer and diplomat Washington Irving stayed in the spring of 1829. The author of Tales of the Alhambra lived in rooms that are part of a suite built in the early 16th century when Charles V ruled Spain. Known as the Emperor's Chambers, the rooms are part of the palace's expansion and conversion to Christian use.

Above the door of the room known as the Emperor's Study there is a marble plaque commemorating Irving's extended visit to the Alhambra during what he described as his "rambles" around the old cities of Spain. Frescos in the Emperor's Chambers were painted between 1535 and 1537 by Julio Aquiles and Alejandro Mayner, two Italian artists who were followers of Raphael. While the rooms, also known as Washington Irving's Chambers, are organised around a patio, they are connected by an internal corridor, something not found in the original Moorish parts of the palace

The opening of the rooms during January is part of the Alhambra's policy of providing temporary access to parts of the palace normally closed to the public. Groups of up to 30 people at a time can see the spaces.

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