The 2013-2017 restoration of the oratory of the Partal Palace
Research outcomes of the latest restoration of the Oratory of the Partal Palace (2013-2017), Alhambra in Spain.
This research focuses on the innovative outcomes of the latest restoration of the Oratory of the Partal Palace (2013-2017), authored by Dr Federico Wulff.
The Oratory of the Partal Palace is a unique fourteenth-century palatine mosque for the exclusive use of the sultans of the Nasrid dynasty of the medieval Kingdom of Granada (Spain) and forms part of the Alhambra heritage complex. Since 1984, the Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, key to understanding the history of intercultural syncretic processes in Western European medieval architecture.
This restoration and its research outcomes were awarded with the Europa Nostra Grand Prix 2019, the most prestigious European heritage award, promoted by the European Commission. It has revealed original inscriptions, new decorative elements and unknown to date constructive solutions from the Nasrid period. Their interpretation allowed a deeper understanding of Nasrid carpentry techniques as more sophisticated and distinctive from their Christian-mudéjar counterparts.
The dendrochronology tests of the original decorated timber framework covering the main praying space consistently dated its timber elements as been cut during the autumn/winter of 1332-1333. This would prove that the Oratory had been conceived and its construction initiated on an earlier date to its widely accepted attribution to Yusuf I (1333-1355) in previous published research. This new dating for the building has been redefined during the rule of the earlier sultan Ismai’l I (1314-1325), who had already made several interventions in the Partal Palace.
The improved legibility of its last two historical restorations, the 1846 orientalist-eclectic and the 1930 rational-scientific together with the research findings of 2013-2017 restoration, has enabled the interpretation of the Oratory of the Partal Palace as a compendium of the Spanish heritage preservation approaches of the last 180 years.
- Federico Wulff, ‘The Restoration of the Oratory ofthe Partal Palace in the Alhambra of Granada, Grand Prix Europa Nostra 2019’, Built Heritage 6: 3 (Springer Nature, 2021)
- Federico Wulff, ‘The Restoration of the Oratory of the The Partal Palace and the House of Astasio de Bracamonte in the Alhambra of Granada, Spain’ (Cardiff University. REF by-design output, 2021).