Architecture Vignettes

Palacio Dar al-Horro

Palacio Dar al-Horro was the last house tour of my visit to Granada. The last day of my trip, at the end of an entire week of sightseeing in Granada – yes, I bought tickets for the Alhambra for two days – yes, I’m an architectural junkie. So, tired, I arrived at the Palacio. And it turned out to be one of the best of the many palacios that you can visit in Granada. The house has quite a few exhibits inside (many of the houses open for tours have empty rooms) – drool-worthy astrolabes and musical instruments. And in one tiny room, there was a model of the aqueduct of how water got from the Rio Darro to Generalife and the Alhambra.

I had hiked around Sabika Hill a bit – timidly avoiding anything steep or rocky – hoping to catch a glimpse of the old aqueduct. But other than some speculation, I found nothing. I ended up buying a book (in Spanish – with an English translation in the back of the book) that shows maps and research on the water supply – and the transport system – to the fountains. And here I was, on my last day, staring at a model of the aqueduct. At which point, I wished I had another day left in my trip and a pair of good hiking boots. Sigh.

The Palacio Dar al-Horro itself was splendid. It had similar tile and plaster decoration to the Alhambra, and no tourists to contend with at all. And the house had a windcatcher of a sort. In hot dry climates, many houses are built with “windcatchers”. Towers that rise up above the house to let hot air escape – pulled out by the wind blowing through the opening at the top of the tower. The Palacio Dar al-Horro had a variation on this, an entire room above part of the house, with openings in the walls to allow the air to flow through, and provide a second roof above the house roof. This top of roof room was hot, substantially hotter than the rooms of the house below. But the rooms below were cooler because of this room. The sun heated this room up and because of the air flow, the rooms below were protected from the heat.

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