The Builders of the Alhambra

November 25th in cinemas


After realising that his besieged Kingdom of Granada is doomed to disappear in the wake of pressure from neighbouring kingdoms, Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada, embarks on the construction of a building that will reflect all the splendour of their civilizsation and will defeat oblivion: the Alhambra palaces. 

His vizier Ibn al-Khatib (Amr Waked), a poet and genius ahead of his time, takes part in this colossal challenge. But when the Sultan’s son inherits the throne and involves the vizier in his new vision and ideas for his reign, Ibn al-Khatib is torn between the old world and the new one that is now emerging. His chronicles tell us the story of of the Granada of the 14th century, the swan song of Islamic Europe.

Can poetry be made into a building?

A stellar and poetic journey, immersing the viewer in the artistic, philosophical and political concepts that led to the construction of the iconic Nasrid Palaces of the Alhambra. 

A documentary about the creators of a unique work of art, the motivations behind their project, the adventure that its realisation meant entailed and the conflicts of the protagonists, all taking place in a historical period of crisis and transcendent change.

Who was Ibn Al-Khatib?

Based on the chronicles of Ibn al-Khatib, «The one with two lives», one of the greatest historians of the Middle Ages in Europe. Poet, diplomat, doctor, philosopher… a man of the Renaissance before the Renaissance, who with a frenetic intellectual activity wrote more than seventy works of poetry, jurisprudence and medicine and whose fame transcended the borders of the Kingdom of Granada.

Amr Waked is Ibn al -Khatib

”This is the story of a building with a conscience. Playing al-Khatib has been a very deep, mystical personal experience that has changed my perception of the world, of life and of our history as Arabs, and as humans.”

Egyptian actor Amr Waked (SyrianaSalmon Fishing in YemenLucyWonder Woman 1984) plays Ibn al-Khatib. 

For centuries, Al-Andalus was the most important centre of innovation and knowledge in Europe and many fascinating historical characters emerged there. The Alhambra continues to exist as the greatest expression of that period of history and Ibn al-Khatib is the person who perfectly embodies its spirit. I would love it if this story could help us to reflect on who we actually are and shed light on the crucial importance of Al-Andalus in the creation of European culture.”

Isabel Fernández – Director  

Historical context

The Nasrid Kingdom of Granada (1238-1492), also known as the Emirate of Granada or the Kingdom of Granada, was a Muslim kingdom in the Middle Ages located in the south of the Iberian Peninsula, comprising all of Almería, Malaga, and Granada and part of Cadiz, Jaen, and Murcia. The Nasrid dynasty established its state capital in the city of Granada and succeeded in taking advantage of its strategic situation over its Christian neighbours to the north by means of a skillful policy of pacts and vassalages. The Nasrids created a prosperous society with an astonishing cultural level, the most important manifestation of which is the Alhambra

This monument is the culmination of a fruitful evolutionary process by the Muslim society of Al-Andalus, which drew on the legacy of the Umayyad caliphate of Cordoba and the scientific tradition of the Muslim world. Today, the Alhambra is a complex that is comprised of artistic features from different ages, a testimony that has surprisingly survived over the course of generations. However, its period of greatest magnificence was in the 14th century, during the emirates of Yusuf I and Muhammad V, a time when other buildings were being constructed in Europe, including the cathedrals of York o Cologne.