My Travel Diary: Grandeur of Granada

Sketchbook version of The Alhambra, view from our window

From the majestic courtyards and mosaics of the Alhambra to the gardens of the Palacio de Generalife, Granada is steeped in a cultural, artistic, and historic heritage that’s been shaped by centuries of diverse influences. Arriving at our Airbnb after navigating a train, two buses and an uphill climb along the cobblestones and past the spice markets we are greeted to a stunning view from our living room window of the Alhambra. We had time to drop our things and enjoy a late afternoon walking tour before the rains arrived. We grabbed dinner to go and supplies for brunch allowing us the time to enjoy our view, sleep in and relax. Our timed entry was scheduled for 2 pm the next day, when the sun returned and shared a Lasting Impression!

Granada was once the grandest city in Spain. However, after the tumult that came from Moorish to Christian rule Granada lost it’s power. We strolled through the Alcaiceria (marketplace), in and around the Cathedral, including the Royal chapel – where the coffins of Ferdinand and Isabel were moved in 1521, and then past the beautiful statue of Columbus with Isabel. The Alhambra was once the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella, and also the site where Christopher Columbus received approval for his expedition.

The Alhambra is the greatest Moorish palace and last stronghold in Europe. The eighth-century-old site was named for the reddish walls and towers that surrounded the citadel: al-qala al-hamra in Arabic means red fort or castle. Its the only surviving palatine city (a royal territorial center) of the Islamic Golden Age and a remnant of the Nasrid Dynasty, the last Islamic kingdom in Western Europe. Visiting in January means fewer crowds and enjoying the peaceful winter light.

Posing in the Courtyard of the Myrtles.

Our first of many courtyards. The Moors loved their courtyards which included a garden and a water feature. Moorish women rarely went out. They stayed in touch with nature in courtyards like this – this one named for the fragrant myrtle hedges.

The Hall of the Abencerrajes was the sultan’s living room with an exquisite ceiling based on the eight-sided Muslim star. Built mostly in the 14th century and decorated with stucco “stalactites”, ceramic tiles, molded-plaster walls and filigree windows.

The Courtyard of the Lions is named for the fountain in the center with twelve marble lions. The arched gallery surrounding the lions is supported by 124 perfectly balanced columns.

The Grand Hall of the Ambassadors is the largest room, also know as the throne room. A perfect cube – from top to bottom, with a star studded, domed wooden ceiling showing the complexity of Allah’s infinite universe.

Some samples of the colors, decorative patterns and calligraphy – mostly poems and verses of praise from the Quran and local poets, found throughout the palace. One phrase, “only Allah is victorious”, is repeated 9,000 times throughout the palace.

Hallway with a View, looking out over the old Moorish town.

Making our way up to the Generalife Gardens – the sultan’s vegetable and fruit orchards and summer palace retreat. Generalife means Garden of the Architect. Located at the end of the pool is the tiny 3 room retreat.

Sketchbook version of Palocio de Generalife

Read more about my travels to Spain in the following posts.

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