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The Aljafería

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Moorish Spain was never very unified, and from the tenth to the eleventh century Zaragoza was the centre of an independent dynasty, the Beni Kasim. Their palace, the Aljafería, was built in the heyday of their rule in the mid-eleventh century, and as such predates the Alhambra in Granada and Seville’s Alcázar. Much, however, was added later, under twelfth- to fifteenth-century Christian rule, when the palace was adapted and used by the reconquista kings of Aragón. Since 1987, the Aragonese parliament has met here.

The foremost relics from the original design are a tiny and beautiful mosque, adjacent to the entrance, and farther on an intricately decorated court, the Patio de Santa Isabella. From here, the Grand Staircase (added in 1492) leads to a succession of mainly fourteenth-century rooms, remarkable for their carved artesonado ceilings; the most beautiful is in the Throne Room.

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