Palacio La Alhambra in Chile’s capital to get major renovation

The project aims to return this incredible replica of a 9th century Spanish fortress in downtown Santiago to its original splendor.

Step through the doors of Palacio La Alhambra and you’ll feel transported straight into a scene from Arabian Nights. This incredible replica of a famous fortress in Granada, Spain is located right in the middle of downtown Santiago near the Plaza de Armas Metro stop.

While this beautiful building was put in danger of collapse after Chile’s 2010 earthquake, a new US $500,000 (CLP 220,000,000) restoration effort funded by private donors and Chile’s Council for Culture is now set to give the Palacio La Alhambra a major makeover.

«The intervention itself will begin in May, with the structural reinforcement of the walls and the facade,» Anne Marie Garling, a member of the Chilean Cultural Heritage Corporation, the entity in charge of the initiative, told La Tercera.

Over the next seven months, the building will undergo termite removal, repairs to its damaged roof, and the restoration of its street front facade. The second phase of the project will repair the building’s valuable plaster, stucco, wood, and painted details.

About the Palacio La Alhambra

In 1860, don Francisco Ignacio Ossa Mercado, a wealthy silver mine owner, hired acclaimed Chilean architect Manuel Aldunate Avaria to create a beautiful palace-residence in Santiago. Mercado even sent Avaria to Spain to study Moorish architecture, a trip that included a visit to the original Palacio La Alhambra in Granada. The Granada Palacio La Alhambra was constructed as a fortress in the year 889 and turned into a sultan’s palace in the year 1333.

As a result of this research in Spain, the Palacio La Alhambra in Santiago is a fascinating synthesis of 9th century Hispano-Islamic design with a 19th century Chilean-style floorplan.  The palace features multiple courtyards, arched entryways, incredible embedded plaster calligraphy patterns, and Islamic mosaics. One of the courtyards is an exact replica of the Los Leones courtyard found in the Granada Palacio La Alhambra.

Santiago’s Palacio La Alhambra changed hands multiple times throughout the 19th century, but was eventually donated to Chile’s National Society of Fine Arts in 1940, and was declared a National Monument in 1973.

Visiting the Palacio La Alhambra

The Palacio La Alhambra is currently under renovation and unavailable to explore in its entirety. You can, however, still step through the entrance doors to catch a glimpse of the first courtyard since the office headquarters of Chile’s National Society of Fine Arts remain inside the building. The beautifully intricate front facade of the building is also worth walking past.

The Palacio La Alhambra is located at Compañía de Jesús 1340. It’s an excellent stop to include on tour of the area around the Plaza de Armas and La Moneda.