Go up

Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Curiosities of the courtyard of the lions, the Alhambra in Granada

Table of contents

The courtyard of the lions, symbol of the sultan's power, is one of the best known corners of the Nasrid monument. From Visitanddo.com we want to tell you 10 curiosities of the courtyard of the lions.

The Palace of the Lions, or the Palace of the Ryad al-Said, is located in the central position of the fortified enclosure of the Alhambra in Granada.

Undoubtedly one of the things to do and see in Granada is to visit the Alhambra.

If you are planning to visit the most important Moorish fortress in Andalucía

Read on!

1. The origin of its name

Founded at the end of the 14th century by Mohammed V . Its name comes from the twelve lions that spring from the fountain in the centre of the courtyard, lions on which the large dodecagonal basin, 2.56 metres in diameter, rests and surrounds it. According to researchers, its origin comes from the 'Sea of Bronze', a fountain described in the Bible. This white marble fountain from Macael is one of the most important examples of Muslim sculpture.

2. Find the differences between the lions

lions fountain alhambra granada
Fountain of the courtyard of the lions in the Alhambra in Granada

These 12 similar lions are different from each other. The features of their fur, their jaws and their expressiveness are marked by their alert posture, raised ears and clenched teeth. Two of the lions have a small triangle on their foreheads indicating that they belong to the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Levi. Each lion represents a symbol of the zodiac.

3. Myths and legends of the Lions' Courtyard

It is believed to represent the signs of the zodiac. It is also said to belong to the twelve tribes of Israel linked to the twelve sons Jacob had. At the same time, it is said to be a symbol of paradise, citing the origin of life and the four rivers of Paradise, characteristic in Islam. The lions are also said to be original to the house of the Jewish poet Yusuf Ibn Nagrela, whether they were built before or after his death is not yet known.

4. It has a poem engraved on it

A poem by Ibn Zamrak is engraved on the inside of the bowl of the fountain. At the beginning of the 17th century another bowl was added, which is now in the garden of the Adarves, along with the spout, which was later completed as the engraving shows.

5. Its similarity to the Myrtle Courtyard

It is rectangular in plan and is surrounded by a gallery in the form of a Christian cloister, far removed from the style of the typical Andalusian Muslim courtyard, which is more similar to the Patio de los Arrayanes, supported by 124 white marble columns and a fine shaft that has a multitude of rings at the top and supports cubic capitals and large abacuses decorated with inscriptions and ataurique.

6. The details in your decoration

Under the carved wooden frieze are perpendicular plaster arches, except for the pavilions and finials on the larger sides of the gallery, which are made of muqarnas, with joints decorated with diamond-shaped fretwork.

7. The arches leading to the Great Qubbah

courtyards of the lions
The courtyard of the lions of the Alhambra

The arches connect the courtyard with the Hall of the Abencerrajes and the Hall of the Two Sisters. Above these arches are the rooms of the sultan's wives.

8. It was occupied by a splendid garden.

After much research, it is said that the centre of the courtyard was a low garden and the floors of the galleries were made of white marble. On the other hand, the Frenchman Lalaing said that there were six orange trees planted in the courtyard.
This garden has undergone many changes over the years and it has now been decided to eliminate it by returning to its origins of marble slabs on the ground, practically to avoid the dampness that appeared in the past.

9. The Lions Fountain is not unique in Granada.

As a result of the tourist boom and the promotion of Spain, the construction of new buildings began replicas of the Lions Fountain in many parts of the country, the best known are on a roundabout in Puerto del Rosario, capital of Fuerteventura, in Macael, a village in the province of Almeria.

10. It was a fashion show.

In 1964 it was converted into a 64-metre footbridge where the a fashion show was held in the Patio de los Leones with the intention of promoting tourism in Spain.

Do not lose the opportunity to visit one of the wonders of the worldThe Alhambra in Granada, the only Palatine city from the Islamic period that is still preserved today, is one of the must-see places in Andalusia.

We recommend obtain tickets for the Alhambra in Granada as soon as possible, the courtyard of the Lions is located in the option with Palacios Nazaríes, take advantage of the Excursion to Granada from Malaga and from the Costa del Sol and don't miss the details of what to visit and what to do in the Alhambra in Granada.

Download the eBook for FREE!

Malaga in 3 days - The perfect route

If you liked...


Choose your language:

Make the most of it! only during the month of November and book our excursions.


Book now and enjoy the tour whenever you want!

BLACK MONTH offer valid from 1 November at 00:00h until 30 November at 23:59h.

We have a present for you!

Download the ebook "What to see in Malaga in 3 days - the perfect route" for free! and plan your perfect trip to discover Andalusia from Malaga.

Register as an Agent

Earn money with Visitanddo.com

Your registration has been registered and is pending validation.

The Partners team will contact you to confirm your profile.