This was actually a couple days ago-I’m playing catch-up here. I’ll maybe get a couple short posts up tomorrow too.
Finally I got to see the Alhambra. I’ve wanted to visit this place since I first saw pictures of it in an art history class, probably 15 years ago almost. And it is-lovely is an understatement-but that’s how it feels-lovely. Almost every inch of the Nasrid palaces is carved with inscriptions, poems, geometrical patterns, or covered with colored tiles. Outside, the gardens are still maintained and full of flowers, and orange trees and small pools are everywhere.
I won’t get into all the gory details, but the history of it is quite fascinating too. The original fortress was small and built in 889 A.D. on the remains of Roman ruins, then evolved over time. If anyone is interested, this is a good overview of how Muslims came to what is now Spain and eventually developed their kingdom in Granada, including the Alhambra, before the last sultan was forced out by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain in 1492. The palace, towers and gardens, even part of the bathhouse and other buildings remain, but the mosque was destroyed and replaced by a Catholic church-Iglesia de Santa María. What sticks with me most though, especially this week, is that this happened over 500 years ago, and yet, here we are, still persecuting Muslims for no reason. Will we never learn to learn from history?
Still, there is a strong middle eastern influence here; even the name of the region in southern Spain-Andalusia-comes from the Arab name-Al-Andalus.There are many shops devoted to tea, medicinal herbs, and spices (I keep wandering into them just because they smell so good.) There are silks and woven clothes and scarves and leather goods everywhere. There are tearooms, Turkish restaurants, and bars offering hookahs to smoke. All in all, it has a very different feel from Barcelona.