Our First Trip to Spain April 6-18, 2005

Granada and the Alhambra

April 9-11, 2005

Cristián had made all our reservations for us to travel to the medieval city of Granada to tour the Alhambra. We enjoyed our 3 hour trip by train to get there, passing miles of olive groves along the way.

the train to Granada    our seats aboard the train
Granada was the site of an Iberian settlement, Elibyrge, in the 5th century BC and of the Roman Illiberis. The Arabs, invading the peninsula in the 8th century, gave it its current name of Granada. As the seat of the Moorish kingdom of Granada, it was the final stronghold of the Moors in Spain, falling to the Roman Catholic monarchs Ferdinand II and Isabella I in January 1492.

On arriving, we took a cab to a plaza in the newer section of the city and saw this statue of Columbus with Queen Isabella. After checking into our nearby hotel and enjoying the view from our room of the Alhambra, we went out to wander about in the streets to get acquainted with the city.
Columbus with Queen Isabella   Our view of the Alhambra from our hotel room
We went to see the cathedral which is considered to be the most important Renaissance building of Spain.
A wide walkway down to the cathedral   The cathedral
We marveled at the quaint and narrow streets in this section of the city, and walked through several even narrower alleys lined with shops offering goods that showed the Arabian influence of the city.
picturesque old world streets   a narrow alley lined with shops with goods from Morocco
Cristián had visited Granada with Antonia when she visited for two months after Christmas, so he was anxious to take us up to the mirador (lookout point) that afforded the best view of the Alhambra at sunset. 


On our way, we walked along this stream that reminded us of a moat around the walled city.


We passed by narrow streets and marveled at the many signs on buildings indicating the century they were built. We even saw two hotels still in use today dating from the 16th century!


It was long and tiring trek to the summit. We were probably still suffering from jetlag. Poor Cristián suffered from having to listen to us.
  This looked like a moat!

steep sidewalks with steps

  more climbing
Come on, you can make it!   nearly there, we hope!

Despite our complaints as we climbed up the steep streets and steps, we reached the top. A great view!
We were tired, so we didn't stay to watch the sunset.Ah, it's nice to sit up here on the wall!   The view was worth it!
what an incredible panoramic view!
We took a wild ride in a bus back down the twisting streets. We wished we had known that there was bus service before we had made the climb! It was a good lesson, since the next day we took the bus up to the Alhambra!

The Alhambra

What a marvelous experience it was to wander through the extensive grounds, gardens and buildings at the Alhambra! The Palace of Charles V, below, was the first building of many that we entered.
The Palace of Charles V
Emperor Charles V (1500 to 1558), grandson of Isabella and Ferdinand, began the construction of this wonderful place, designed by Pedro Machuca, who studied under Michelangelo in Florence.
a part of the interior courtyard and balcony   The circular courtyard inside is a delightful surprise when one enters this 16th century palace.
  romantic stairway
The actual Alhambra consists of 3 parts: The Royal Palace, which is the most famous, which in itself consists of 3 parts: The Mexuar, the Serallo and the Harem, where the Lions' Court is the centre. In addition to the Alhambra comes the gardens of Generalife and the fortress of Alcazaba.   details in the Palace of Mexuar
Here you can see some of the details in the ceiling construction of the palace of Mexuar, originally built by Ismael I for the juridical administration and later restructured by Muhammad V. Under King Charles V the building was changed to be a Christian chapel, but the Moorish charm and style remains.  
The Serallo was mainly built during the reign of Yusuf 1 in the middle of the 14th century. It served as the reception area of embassies and distinguished guests. At right, the Patio of the Myrtles. Below is the Hall of Ambassadors, where King Fernando discussed the voyage of Columbus to find the sea route to India.  
 
The Harem was the private residence of Muhammad V. Three great halls enclose the famous Court of the Lions. The figures of lions that surround the fountain are rare in arabian art, as the figurative representation of animals (as well as humans) is forbidden by the Koran. This courtyard inspired Washington Irving, whose Tales of the Alhambra has more than anything else contributed to the fame of Moorish Spain and Granada, as well as the saving of the legacy of Alhambra.

Court of the Lions

The Alcazaba is an impressive military fortification going back to 9th century and modified in 13th century.
The wind was cold and strong but the views were worth it!   A view of the interior of the fortress
Much of it is yet to be restored, but there are wonderful and commanding views of the town and countryside from its various towers and observation areas.  
 Approaching the Alcazaba    The Vela tower and a closer observation deck
     

 Spain's highest mountain range, the Sierra Nevada

 

another wonderful view

It was easy to spot our hotel, but the zoom lens on the camera makes it easier for others to find it. It's in the building in the center and is the central beige color part.  


  The inspiration for the Garden of Generalife is supposed to be nothing less than the Koranic description of Paradise. Running water and plenty of shaded areas together with fresh plants of all sorts; there was nothing that appealed more to the rulers of Granada, who never forgot their historic past of the hot desert.

  We enjoyed the gardens and the views, inside and out, in the summer palace called Generalife.
 

glorious gardens and view

On the train back to Seville the next day, Cristián took advantage of the time to study a text book that we had bought for him for a course he will be beginning in late September 2005. It is obvious why he is doing so well at the Conservatory!

Artie and I both managed to catch a few winks, since we knew we would be having a late night with the opening of the Feria de Abril that night.
  Our studious boy!