Search my Blog!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Day 1 Granada: The Alhambra

Ingy and I took a train from Sevilla to Granada on the 27th. We took the 7:00 am train so we would have a full day in Granada. The train ride was 3 hours long but it seemed to go pretty quickly. We got to see the sunrise and some pretty scenery on the way too.

First ones on the train!
The mountain looks like a profile of a head
We got to Granada and made our way to the hostel. We unloaded everything and got a bite to eat and started walking towards the center. I was really excited because this is the first time I have been back in Granada since studying abroad there 4 years ago. I was nervous because I have always held Granada in high regard; I didn't know if it was just nostalgic or if I really liked the city. But the minute we started walking through the streets I realized that I really do love this city. The town is so unique from most other cities in southern Spain. There is still such a large Islamic influence in the city from the building to the shops and people. Ingy got some practice speaking arabic in some of the shops too.
Cathedral of Granada
Big fountain near city center
We walked around the city for a bit and then decided to make the trip up the mountain to visit the Alhambra. This was an all day event and we spent probably 4 hours exploring the fortress. The Alhambra is a palace and fortress complex constructed during the mid 14th century by Moorish rulers. After the Christian conquest in 1492 the Alhambra's mosque was replaced with a church. Granada was the last islamic hold out in Spain during the Christian Conquest. In short, the Christian conquest was lead by the King and Queen of Spain to expel all muslim and jewish residence in the country and unite the 4 kingdoms of Spain under one religion, Catholicism. The history of Spain, especially Granada is very interesting and definitely a good read. 

The Alhambra is a massive fortress atop a large hill protected by high incline hills and a river. The three main parts we visited were the Alcazaba, Nasrid Palaces and the Generalife. 
Path up the hill to the entrance, very steep

walking up

halfway up and looking THRILLED!
The Alhambra was also the home of the American writer Washington Irving, who in 1829 visited Granada and stayed in the Alhambra where he was inspired to write his "Tales of the Alhambra."

Washington Irving Statue, the bottom says "Son of the Alhambra"
We started the tour in the Genarlife. This area includes an immense Garden area and a large palace. It was constructed to be the recreation area of the Kings of Granada where they escaped from the official routine. The garden area was so pretty. The amount of time it must take to keep the gardens looking they way the do must be tremendous. 

The stone pathways were there own piece of art in the Gardens
The next place we visited in the Alhambra was the Nasrid Palaces. It consists of three palaces built in different periods for the Islamic Rulers. They were all built between the years 1314 - 1391. Inside, the rooms are filled with old arabic scripture and intricate wall designs. Even after the rulers of Spain kicked out all the muslim inhabitants it still kept much of there art and design in the buildings. These palaces are also where the famous American writer Washington Irving stayed during his stay in Granada. The courtyards were so spacious and well groomed. It is amazing how much time and effort they spend on maintaining the gardens and fountains inside the Alhambra. I guess when they receive over 2 million visitors a year it pays to have everything in top shape. 
From inside an old sleeping quarter in the Nasirid Palaces, overlooking the Albaycin neighborhood. 
Ingy and the Audio Guide 
Patio de Comares inside the Nasird Palaces

Other side of the Patio de Comares
so much detail on the walls and columns 
so intricate 
"Washington Irving wrote in these the "The Tales of the Alhambra" in the year 1829.
Courtyards connecting the palaces

Finally we visited the Alcazaba section of the Alhambra. This is one of the oldest parts in the Alhambra and the military area of the complex. The towers of the Alcazaba overlook the city of Granada. You get 360 degree views of the city. This was the point where the old rulers of times past watched over the city and could see enemies approach from far off in the distance. A section of the complex was also used as a prison at one point. 
Albaycin neighborhood in the background

Torre de la vela

Overlooking Granada

Shot of part of the Alcazaba complex from a tower
Sierra Nevada's from the Alcazaba


There is a lot more inside the Alhambra walls than the three main places we visited. There is a huge square block palace built for King Carlos V in the center, a few hotels, shops, places to eat, and other museums. You can easily spend all day there and still not see everything it has to offer.
Palace of Carlos V
It was dark by the time we left the Alhambra. We made our way back down the hill into the city center. We ate some dinner and walked around for a bit. It was pretty cold that first night so we went back to our hostel and got some rest after a long day of traveling and walking. 

1 comment:

  1. Great pictures again, looks like you guys are having fun!