Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Alhambra: Granada

The Palace of Charles V, built by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor in 1527, was inserted in the Alhambra within the Nasrid fortifications. 

Today we are heading for Granada to see the Moorish palace built by the last Muslim Emirs in Spain of the Nasrid dynasty: The Alhambra.  

 According to the literature, after 1492 and the reconquest by the Catholic Monarchs, some portions of the Alhambra were used by the Christian rulers and after being allowed to fall in to disrepair for centuries, the Alhambra was rediscovered by scholars and travelers and restored from 1923-1936.  It is now one of Spain's major tourist attractions, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984 and we didn't want to miss it.

It took us more time to get to Granada by car than we had expected, so after about two and a half hours we rolled into what turned out to be a beleaguered city.  Any of you that remember how long and how confusing it was in Nice when we were putting in our recent tramway system will sympathize when we tell you that none of our guidebooks or maps could help us to find the route to the Alhambra from central Granada.  All the traffic had been rerouted away from the roadworks when possible.

 We finally managed to double park in front of the tourist office( in the old town where no parking was allowed) long enough to get the latest advice on how to get out of town to see our Moorish Palace.  Still it took us another half hour of confusion and visiting nearby barrios before we found our bus.

The bus system to the Alhambra is brilliant and once you find it, all is smooth sailing.  It takes you right to the ticket booth and information center where we were given a visit time a half hour hence.  But we were starving and the one restaurant that serves the site could not accommodate us in so short a time. 

So I gulped some over-sweet hot chocolate and corn chips and Jeanne managed to eat a sandwich that looked frightfully like cardboard all from a vending machine.  This may have been the tenth time I have eaten food out of a machine.... which just goes to show that I haven't been on enough adventures!  In any case we were ready when our tour time came up after our 10 minute walk up the hill.  

                                                                  The court of Machua,

 The site of the Alhambra is vast and better information can of course be found online.   I am just going to give you an overview.

    The court of the Myrtles.  All the water features found throughout the palaces were especially effective giving dancing reflections on the surrounding walls.  

  The intricate carving on walls and ceiling of almost every room.
  Comares Palace: Yusef I (1333-1354)

                                                  Detail:  Facade of the Comares Palace


There are 66 buildings or points of interest to the site and we saw more than half of them.   I don't have the labels for each one.  It was more about seeing the differences in the art forms.  As you know, islamic art does not use the human image.   And running water was used throughout for its sound, reflections and symbolism.

                                                 A quiet courtyard within Palace walls .

                                                   Jeanne finds a spot in the sun.

The Partal Palace.  This beautiful reflecting pool was probably the focus for meditation or entertainment. internet, movies or tv but they had hookahs no doubt. 

Looking across from the Palaces at the Generalife, which was a series of gardens constructed to be the recreation area of the Kings of Granada, where they escaped from the official routine.

      Visit to the lower gardens of the generalife.  It will be quite impressive in Spring when more plants will be in bloom.

    Jeanne emerges from an even lower garden with fountains and pools, the court of the Sultana.  

Inside the Charles V Palace is a fine arts museum that was showing a Matisse exhibit so when we had finished viewing the vast grounds we worked our way back to the first building again.  It was well worth the hike as there were about 25 canvases, mostly depicting Matisse's fascination with Odalisks and Spanish and Moorish motifs.  One of the fabric screens that separates the women of the harem was from the Nice Museum.  The paintings were from Russia, Paris, London and other famous collections.  I was thrilled to see things that I have come across many times in my comprehensive retrospective at home.   

We had another two plus hours of driving and so with the light fading we made for the bus.  We got tangled around again in Granada but finally were heading home where we finished the day with a meal of Paella and a good glass of red.


  1. So glad you got there. ..worth all the hassle.


  2. So lucky to have such a perfect day.

  3. Nice pictures. I copied a few. I hope you don't mind. I was there a few days later. It's one of the most beautiful parador site of Spain.