Alhamra is the heart of Lahore as Lahore is the cultural capital of the country. Alhamra is basically an Arabic word, which literally means a woman in “Red Clothes”. This was the name initially given to the Royal enclave at Cordoba Spain by the Arabs. The palaces and other buildings were constructed in red bricks. The idea of constructing buildings of this style for an Arts Council was conceived by our illustrious Architect Mr. Nayyar Ali Dada. Since the buildings in Spain were in red colour, the bricks used for Alhamra’s building are also red in colour. The building has been awarded Agha Khan International Award for excellent architecture.
Alhamra is a successor to a society with the name of Pakistan Arts Council founded on December 10, 1949. The modern complex owes its existence to the efforts and interest of the former Governor Punjab, General Ghulam Jillani Khan. Subsequent developments include an open-air theatre and two small auditoriums at Ferozepur Road, Lahore. A permanent art gallery was also constructed at the Alhamra Cultural Complex, Gaddafi Stadium. This is the first art gallery of its type in Pakistan where works of old masters has been preserved and put on permanent display.
During the last 20 years Alhamra has emerged as hub of all cultural activities in Lahore. It not only revived some of the dying arts but also added international dimensions. It has been rightly called as the heart of Lahori culture. Situated on the bank of river Ravi, the historical city of Lahore has been a citadel of glorious traditions. These traditions evolved after a long inter-communal, multi-ethnic interaction that spread over several centuries.
The people of Lahore carry forward their traditions with characteristic cultural vivacity and religious fervor, which are not on a collision course with modernism. With these noted virtues, the lifestyle of the Lahorities points towards an influence of the orthodox, the traditional and the progressive streams. Lahore is the city of beautiful Badshahi Mosque, historic Fort and magnificent Shalimar Gardens.
Punjab has a very rich cultural heritage. Its five arteries have nourished vast land legends and love tales like that of HEER-RANJHA, MIRZA-SAHIBAN, SAHTI-MURAD, SOHNI-MAHINWAL and many more. Its soils and seasons have produced folk dances and music of special melody and rhythm representing sowing, growing, harvesting, weaving, camel walk, whirling and striding in ecstasy. Its Sufies and Saints have enlightened the hearts and souls of people and taught them to stand for peace and equality of all men irrespective of caste, colour and creed. Lahore, its capital, is the city of fairs and festivals and refreshing and fragrant gardens.