Restoration of The Chair of the Moor, Alhambra. Granada, Spain
Saint Elena's Castle, commonly known as the Chair of the Moor, is a 14th-century construction integrated into the fortress system of Granada. Like the Dar al-Arusa and Alijares palaces, it was connected to the Alhambra and Generalife.
The Castle, located on the northern slopes of the Cerro del Sol, was used mainly as a lookout point over the Royal Water Channel, the water source of the Alhambra and Generalife. The central section is formed by a tower, built on a platform which was reached from the South, while a stairway provided access to the tower on the North side.
The building was the subject of a series of interventions throughout the years was subjected to a series of interventions, the major ones being undertaken for military purposes after the conquest of the city by the Catholic Monarchs and during the Spanish War of Independence, in 1810-1812. After being blown up by retreating Napoleonic troops, it was abandoned for a long period, until the first interventions were carried out in the early 20th century.
The first conservation works were carried out in 1929 by Leopoldo Torres Balbás, although the first major 20th-century intervention was performed by Francisco Prieto Moreno. The objective was to transform the building into a recreational area and to improve access to the building. The idea of creating a lookout point (1942) and a restaurant (1966) justifies its reconstruction. At this time, a large central tower was built but, paradoxically, it was never used. Years later, some of the newly built masonry walls collapsed.
From 1997 to 1998 changes were made to the guiding principles behind the site intervention works. Research concentrated on archaeological sampling and on cleaning tasks, monitoring and consulting, in addition to the demolition of the existing structures from the sixties.
In 2008 the Chair of the Moor restoration project was undertaken with the purpose of opening the site to the public. The idea behind was to find a balance with the history of the building by consolidating it properly and presenting it without adulterations. To meet this goal, the tower was partially reconstructed from its remains, which showcased its condition as an unfinished work and heightened its character as a strategic lookout point, and the long-standing remains of the original building were highlighted as cultural heritage assets.