Patio de los Leones


The celebrated Patio de los Leones (Lion Courtyard) sits at the core of the Palacio de los Leones, the palace built in the Alhambra in the second half of the 14th century by Mohammed V. Its best-known feature is an 11th-century fountain set atop 12 carved marble lions.

The patio's four water channels, running to and from the central fountain, represent the four rivers of Islamic paradise while the 12 lions could symbolise any number of things, perhaps the 12 signs of the zodiac, perhaps the 12 hours of the day. The courtyard's layout, which uses the proportions of the golden ratio, demonstrates the complexity of Islamic geometric design – the 124 slender columns that support the ornamented pavilions are placed in such a way that they are symmetrical on numerous axes.

Admission is included in the Alhambra ticket.