A full moon lights the circular courtyard of a renaissance Spanish palace.
There is just enough light to see the ancient columns. The coarse conglomerate stone was shaped into perfect Ionic columns almost five hundred years ago.
The palace was constructed at the command of Carlos V, the grandson of the Spanish monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand. They had achieved the final reconquest of Spain in 1492 as well as funding the conquest of distant lands. It was a big year for them!
The palace was built adjacent to the Moorish Nasrid palace within The Alhambra in Granada, Spain. Carlos wanted another palace and hired an architect who may have been an associate of Michelangelo early in his career (uncertain facts).
Carlos had the money, at least when he started the project in 1527 he did.
His mother (Joanne “The Crazy”) was the daughter of Isabella and Ferdinand. She passed on to Carlos all of Spain, parts of Italy, and all of the “discovered” land in America.
His father (Philip “The Handsome”) was the son of Emperor Maximilian I and Mary of Burgundy. They provided Carlos with Holland, Germany, Austria, and Belgium (where he was born).
The outside of this palace is square and is made of massive distinctively cut and textured stone. The interior circular courtyard inside the square building was a unique combination at the time. The monarchs and their guests would have strolled under this second floor portico and enjoyed performances in the courtyard below. But the palace construction was troubled with delays and problems. The final roof was not finished until 1957. That is 1957, not 1597.
I wonder how people can conceive of buildings like this. It is starkly different than the ancient and exquisite Nasrid palace that it is connected to.
But it is a beautiful place to watch the moon on a hot Andalucían night. The imagination adds the musicians and the dancers below, lit by torches. The music and laughter echo off of the stone across the years.
For five centuries that fat moon has shown into this palace. The empire has dissolved but this stone is still solid. When you reach out and place your palm on the column, its warm smooth surface masks the fluvial chaos that formed the conglomerate stone and the political chaos of amassing and commanding a far-reaching empire.