Sunday, February 7, 2010

Granada: The Alhambra

On my way to the bus bound for Granada, I realized that I had forgotten to change my camera's batteries, and it had been running low for quite a while. With regret, I decided to save it for the most important sightseeing only: the Alhambra. Unfortunately, this meant the camera was acting up, and converging with the facts that I am not the best photographer even in the most conducive circumstances, and that our tour guide was rushing us, I did not get the kind of pictures I wanted. However, my memory serves me well, and these will just serve as a shadow of a reminder.

I also visited the Catedral in Granada, commissioned by Holy Roman Emperor Carlos V in 1521, and the tombs of Los Reyes Catolicos, Isabella and Fernando, in the Capillo Real (Royal Chapel), the first thing they built after the conquest of the city.

In my opinion, Granada has probably the most interesting and significant history in all of Spain. It was the last stronghold of the Moors in Spain, under Moorish rule from 711 until 1492. Shortly after Isabella rode triumphantly into Granada, she called for Christopher Columbus and granted him the funds for his historic voyage. The jewel box from which she is said to have taken the jewels to fund the voyage is on display at the Capillo Real, along with Fernando's sword and other effects of his. Their daughter Juana la Loca (Juana the Mad) is buried with them there, along with her Habsburg husband Felipe I.

I loved Granada. I loved the Alhambra, which was originally a city of seven palaces built by the Moorish kings and enclosed within the walls of the fortress. Now, only three palaces remain, much of which are reconstructed, but I beheld it first at night, shining with enchanted light, as we went to attend my first flamenco show. That also was amazing, I felt the spirit of duende, there was something so personal and visceral in the stomping and clapping of the dancers.

I have been reading Washington Irving's Tales of the Alhambra, so the legends were not all new to me, and I tried to identify the places he talked about, though it was difficult due to aforementioned rushing. We did see the Court of Lions and the rooms where he stayed. I wish I could have the time to ramble about the Alhambra as he did.

My pictures are mostly of the old palace, dating from the tenth century, my picture of the fountain in the Court of Lions is lacking lions, since they are being restored, and the picture of the building in the water is in a courtyard of the judicial palace, dating from the thirteenth century. The white palace is the Generalife, garden of Allah, the Moorish royals' summer palace.

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