In order to reach the walls of the magnificent and enticing Alhambra, you need to trek up a steep and stony path. Once you have contributed some sweat and are regretting the fact you are not in better shape, the two tall wooden entrance doors to the Alhambra fortress appear. Suddenly, your breath is regained as you gasp at the ancient jewel. Beyond this threshold lies a sight you have never seen before nor will ever see again. Three descriptions come to mind when summing up my experience of the Alhambra; antiquity, geometric intricacy, and overwhelming beauty.
The Alhambra, literally "the red one," was built by the Moors in Granada in the 1300s. The palaces were built for the Muslim Emirs during the Nasrid Dynasty. This fortress was used by the Moors as a place of refuge during the Spanish Reconquista. Of course, the outcome of the Reconquista changed how the Alhambra was used, falling into the hands of Christian rulers. But the Moorish style still pervades the northern quarter of the city today.
The interior decoration of the Alhambra palaces represent the end of the era of Andalusian art. Every wall, ceiling, and floor are covered in geometric patterns, complementing colors, and interwoven textures which accentuate this superior artistry. It is hard to believe just how much work and expertise went into every inch of each palace. They are all alike in their grandeur, yet each has its own character in terms of architecture, geometric style, and overall feel given off inside. After seeing more than four palaces, it becomes almost overwhelming to be in such a place of mastery and prowess.
In Moorish poetry, the Alhambra is described as "a pearl set in emeralds". Its ivory-colored walls and lush green gardens prove this description very accurate. The plans for the construction of the Alhambra included an aqueduct system that allowed water access to the beautiful gardens surrounding the palace called Generalife. This was the favorite part of my visit. I felt like the little girl in The Secret Garden, having just discovered an ancient, clandestine haven all to myself to enjoy. My nose filled with the subtle fragrances of flowers and my ears with the quiet sprinkle from the fountains as I quietly brushed my feet along the stone paths through the tall hedges. After a labyrinth of greenery, I came upon a sweeping view of northern Granada, speckled with the Andalusian white and blue houses. I was not only overwhelmed with the beauty, but also the peace.
I can understand clearly why people felt at ease in the Alhambra in times of war. Even today, I could feel the refuge the Alhambra has to offer.
Shout outs of today's blog go to:
To all: 10 brownie points to anyone who can correctly guess what the Alhambra's literal name, "the red one," refers to!
Mary Catherine: I went to a doner kebab and it was the best late night snack I've ever had. Satisfied all my cravings!
Mom: When I showed my host mom Eloisa your picture, she said you are "buena gente," meaning a good person, or, a gentlewoman.
Hasta la próxima,