20 December 2011
The first of twelve fully restored marble lions (pictured above) that stand watch in Spain's Alhambra in Granada returned to its spot Monday after being restored by experts.
A miniature crane lowered the 300-kilogramme (660-pound) stone lion "number 8" into place at the foot of a fountain in the Court of the Lions at the heart of the building, one of Spain's biggest tourist attractions.
"It is an historic event," said Paulino Plata, a cultural official for the Andalucia region, as the lion returned to the spot where it had sat for centuries before it was moved for restoration work that began in 2002. The lions were removed from the courtyard for refurbishing four years ago.
Rich in Islamic art and architecture, the Alhambra was a fortress for the Nasrid dynasty which lived there from the 13th century.
The Court of the Lions was built in the 14th century by Sultan Mohamed V.
The other 11 lions are due to be brought up one by one in the coming days from an inner room where they have been on show pending their complete restoration.
When returned, the twelve lions will encircle the fountain at the center of the courtyard in their original positions, as can be seen in the pre-restoration picture to the right.
The work of restoration and transfer of the sculptures was performed by a multidisciplinary team of more than 200 people, including engineers of the Patronage's conservation service, the Spanish Cultural Heritage Institute and the Andalusian Historical Heritage Institute, along with experts from the universities of Granada and Seville. The cost of the operation was 2.16 million euros ($2.8 million).
The Court of the Lions is due to reopen in the Spring of 2011 and visitors are expected to flock to it. More than two million visitors entered the Alhambra in the first nine months of 2011.
"Stone lion resumes post in Spain's Alhambra" Dawn December 20, 2011
"First of the Alhambra lions goes home" Finca in Javea December 19, 2011
"Spain:restored lions fountain back to decorate the Alhambra" ANSAmed December 19, 2011