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Queen Isabella (1451-1504) rules Spain in times of great strife. The Catholic religion holds great meaning for her, yet she accepts the Moorish architecture of Spain's greatest castles. In her last will and testament, she asks for humble interment.
Muslims occupy the Iberian Peninsula from the 8th century onward. In the 11th-13th centuries, Catholics launch a counterattack. In Granada the Alhambra stands as the Moors' last fortress. Princess Isabella harbors secret political ambitions.
Upon the death of King Henry IV, Princess Isabella enthrones herself in the castle at Segovia and reigns with her husband Prince Ferdinand of Aragon. Isabella turns her attention to Alhambra Palace, the last Moorish fortress.
The Alhambra and Seville Palaces are filled with "arabesque," or geometric patterns. In the Seville Palace, however, Catholics have added depictions of men and animals. A tile artist explains "Arabic-style tile."
Within the Moorish Seville Palace, Catholics build a small church for Queen Isabella and her husband. After Isabella becomes queen, she travels to distant cities, rebuilding a dilapidated nation. This segment features the Hall of Ambassadors.
Queen Isabella desires to be buried in the Alhambra. The fortress is impenetrable and consists of a number of castles and countless secret passageways. The exterior of the palace hides the bloodstained past of its inhabitants.
In 1491, the last sultan in Granada surrenders without a fight and Alhambra Palace passes to Queen Isabella. This segment features the details of Islamic decoration and numerous complex motifs that read, "Only god is victorious."
"Arabesque" uses certain elements of nature as abstract motifs of expression. These motifs become part of an infinite chain design. Manual laborers create scores of elaborate tiles by using advanced Islamic knowledge and expertise.
After 7 years of waiting, Christopher Columbus receives permission from Queen Isabella for the "grand voyage." He returns with gold and wealth after a highly successful voyage to the West Indies.
In Mexuar Palace within the Alhambra, a sultan's prayer room faces Mecca. The walls are covered in "arabesque" and exhortations to live a life of prayer. Poetry is also hidden among the intricate designs in the palace.
Queen Isabella adds only one Catholic statue to the Moorish Alhambra Palace. In violation of her treaty with the last sultan, Isabella destroys a mosque and erects a Catholic church. The interior of the Alhambra, however, remains relatively untouched.
The line of succession was interrupted by the death of Queen Isabella's eldest son, daughter, and her infant grandson. She names her daughter Juana to succeed her, though Juana demonstrates jealousy and instability.
As Queen Isabella lay dying, she continued to add to her will, which sounded more like a sermon than a will. Meanwhile, in the West Indies, Catholicism is responsible for raids and pillaging more than it is for conversations.
Queen Isabella's body is brought to Alhambra Palace for burial where it is covered with a simple marker. Opinions vary about her choice of interment. Many suggest she simply wanted peace and repose in a beautiful setting.
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