The construction of the Emperor’s chambers was part of the process of adaptation of the Islamic palaces to the needs of their new Christian rulers. These apartments were built on the area known as the Meadow near the Hall of the Two Sisters. The project involved a series of rooms that joined the Palace of the Lions to the Palace of Comares. Even though this construction is thought to date back to the period of Charles V, some researchers point to earlier building work from the period of the Alhambra’s first Christian monarchs, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.
Although some of the changes were clearly visible, in general these new buildings were well integrated into the grand designs left behind by their predecessors, the Nasrids. They adapted well to the setting, blending in without the need for exact symmetry in the spatial lay out. These new rooms are linked by a corridor and distributed around an irregular courtyard. This arrangement differs from the typical Islamic structure of a Palace with unconnected rooms laid out around a courtyard.
The first room, known as the Emperor’s Study, has an original fireplace and a wooden ceiling, both designed by Pedro Machuca. This leads on to an antechamber through which we come to the royal bedrooms. Above the door to the study there is a commemorative marble plaque erected in 1914 in memory of the famous American writer Washington Irving, who lived in the Fruit Rooms. Julio Aquiles and Alejandro Mayner, admirers of Raphael, painted the walls of these chambers between 1535 and 1537. Renaissance frescos once covered all these walls, though very little remains as they have been plastered over several times since the 17th century.