Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



The Nasrids were the last Islamic power on the Iberian Peninsula. They created a place of luxury and wealth in their hilltop fortress, the Alhambra, which is one of the best-preserved examples of medieval Islamic palace architecture. It was transformed in the thirteenth century into a palace-city and during most of its early history housed the most important figure in an Islamic society, the sultan. The Alhambra displays bare, natural elements on the exterior, while the interior mimics and references these natural elements in a grander fashion with gardens, fountains, beautiful vistas, sculpted porticos and lavish rooms. These interior spaces were settings for the sultan to display his wealth and power. In this thesis, I explore a selection of sites in the Alhambra by examining how decoration, courtyard gardens, water, and patronage reflect medieval Islamic notions of pleasure. Following the introduction, each chapter is focused on a specific place within the Alhambra: the Palace of the Lions, the Comares Palace, and the Royal Bath. All have survived relatively intact and date primarily to the fourteenth century. In order to best discuss pleasure, each chapter includes a discussion of building layout, decoration, gardens and the role of water, and patronage. Each section is discussed in relation to pleasure and will investigate the means by which the spaces provide pleasure.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Camerlenghi, Nicola