Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Granada - The Alhambra

On Thursday morning we took the train from Seville to Granada where we stayed for two nights. Our main objective was to visit the world famous Alhambra.

This photo was taken from the train, these are olive groves with the Sierra Nevada mountains in the background. We saw mile upon mile of olive groves as we travelled.

Once we had checked in to our hotel and had some lunch we set off to explore Granada. It was late afternoon by this time and Juliette announced that we had to find the Plaza de San Nicolas as this is the place to take photos of the Alhambra as the sun is setting. It soon became apparent that Granada is definitely in the mountains! We climbed and climbed and climbed up steep narrow lanes many of which were really pretty.

When we finally arrived, having seen hardly a soul on the way up, we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of crowds of people all desperate to get into pole position for the best photographs. My effort has already appeared at the top of this post.

As we walked back from the Plaza de San Nicolas we passed this wonderful brick edifice which I think is a bread oven.

The Moorish influence in Granada is still very much in evidence. After dinner we wandered up through the narrow streets of the Albaicin - the old Moorish quarter of Granada. It is filled with tiny shops, places to eat and places like this where you can have a coffee and also partake of the delights of a hookah! Needless to say Juliette insisted on trying it while I had a glass of mint tea. The herbal mixture that she had was quite pleasant but  it wasn't a new experience for me as I've tried the hookah when I was in Jordan some years ago.

The following morning brought  the main event of our trip to Granada - a visit to the Alhambra for which we had booked tickets before we left England. A long climb up through the welcome shade of a woodland area leads to the Justice Gate which is the most important gateway to the Citadel of the Alhambra and has stood here since 1348.The name  comes from the inscription on the gate which reads 'May God allow the justice of Islam to prevail within'
All my photos of it are from this odd angle so I think it must have been because the sun was shining directly into the camera if I stood square on.

The tickets to go into the Nasrid Palaces are timed so we looked around the outer areas while we waited. There is a hotel at the top of this pleasant avenue where we were able to have a drink and, more importantly, a sit down in a nice cool room! It was a really hot day and there was very little shade outside.

I can't even begin to explain the complexities of the Alhambra so I shall just say that the Nasrid Palaces were the residence of the Moorish kings. This is the Courtyard of the Myrtles in the Comares Palace which was the focal point of all political and diplomatic activity. Water plays a very important part in Moorish architecture and here the Comares Tower is reflected in the pool that fills the courtyard. The myrtle bushes which flank the pool give the courtyard its name. I waited ages to get this photo without too many people in it. The whole place was absolutely packed even though October is low season. What it must be like in August I dread to think. The timed ticket is just for actual entry, once in you can stay as long as you like hence the crowds.

There was the most beautiful stucco work everywhere. if you click and enlarge this you will see it in greater detail.

You walk through from the Courtyard of the Myrtles into the Courtyard of the Lions, this shows the beautiful carving on the arcades surrounding the central courtyard.

The lovely Fountain of the Lions stands in the centre of the courtyard and was carved sometime between the end of the 10th century and the beginning of the 11th century. The symbolism is from pre-Christian civilizations - the lion with water flowing from its mouth represents the sun from which all life springs. The twelve lions represent the suns of the zodiac - I haven't made a typing error here, the word is suns and not signs:) This is another photo where I waited ages until it was relatively free of people. When that happens you have to be quick before the next lot emerge!

I love the effect of the arches in this photo.

This may or may not be the Mirador of Lindaraja overlooking the garden of Lindaraja. It's really beautiful anyway.

The Courtyard of the Lindaraja is a lovely tranquil place. The Alhambra is definitely one of those places that you need to visit more than once to appreciate it properly. After a spot of lunch we went into the gardens but that will be a separate post as otherwise this one will be much too long.


Sheila da Silva said...

Excellent photos and information Rowan. You managed to see and do a lot on your visit. The Moorish architecture is lovely..x

The History Anorak said...

Now that is somewhere I would love to go. Your photos are great. Thanks for the tour.

Jenny Woolf said...

Perfectly amazing. I believe it is very hot in Granada at this time of year. I went in the depths of winter and it was SOOOO cold. But looked surprisingly similar. Lovely photos took me back.

Mac n' Janet said...

You took some wonderful pictures. When we first visited the Alhambra, way back in the 70's, it wasn't crowded, no timed tickets, you just wandered and it was wonderful. When we went back in about 2000 it was so crowded we gave it a skip and went to Cordoba instead.

Lynda (Granny K) said...

Somewhere we have not visited yet, it looks beautiful.

Cheryl said...

Lovely images and a very interesting post Rowan.

I love Moorish beautiful.
The arches are very effective, and seem to invite one through.

I have never had the courage to try the hookah...........I do not know why. I think I would probably feel a little self conscious.

Bovey Belle said...

I missed a Field Trip here at Uni by one (or possibly two) years - then they decided it was too expensive to take students here, which is a shame. The Field Trip to Ireland (though interesting) wasn't quite in the same calibre!

It really is the most stunning place isn't it? Incredibly beautiful.