The final city of our visit to Andalucía was to the city of Granada, situated at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains approximately one hour by car from the Mediterranean coast. The River Darrow flows through the centre of the city. Granada is named after the Spanish name for pomegranate – granada! The pomegranate symbol can be seen wherever you go in the city – on street signs, manhole covers and fire hydrants, ceramic tiles, shop signs and wall plaques. It is also the heraldic device/symbol of the city:
The city has much to offer tourists. Undoubtedly, the main attraction of the city is the Alhambra – a grand, Moorish citadel and palace, which most of this post will ultimately be about, but there are lots of other things to see and do in the city iteslf, if time allows. There are many shopping areas, from the ‘modern’ high street variety to the typical Spanish-style shops in the winding streets, offering Spanish leather, lace, olive oil products, wines and a variety of novelty items. Many spacious plazas host umpteen cafes, restaurants and tapas bars, all offering refreshments. We had lunch in one such plaza – probably the most popular and aptly aptly named Bib Rambla – with a statue entitled, ‘Fountain of the Giants’ in the middle of it. In the centre of the city, close to Bib Rambla Plaza, is the superb Cathedral of Granada, built over the Great Mosque in the early 16th century following the conquest of Granada by the Catholic monarchs. It is contemporary with the Christian palace of the Alhambra, built by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. As usual, it was impossible to get far enough back to get a more meaningful view of it, but here are a couple of different views:
On the hill facing the Alhambra is the old, Moorish ‘casbah’ or medina, a labyrinth of narrow, winding streets and whitewashed houses. It is called the Albaicin/Albayzin (the latter is the English name) and was where the Moors had their palace before Alhambra was built. It is from the Albaicin that the best views of the Alhambra can be had but, as we didn’t manage to get there on this occasion, here’s one from Wikimedia Commons, entiltled, ‘Panoramic View of Alhambra from Abayzin‘. Author: Mihael Grmeh. Unless viewed from an aerial photo, it’s difficult to see the boat-shape of the fortress -long and narrow but widening in the middle. We spent an entire morning in the Alhambra, and probably could have spent longer in order to see everything properly. As it was, we were shown some pretty impressive features in the wonderful gardens, the palace and the other buildings.
The height of the ‘Red Hill’ was one of the reasons for the initial siting the Royal Palace. It is far cooler at Alhambra, and that coolness is emphasised still further all over the grounds and inside the buildings by the ingenious use of water. There is no shortage of water at Alhambra. Despite its height, there are hills still higher not far away, and water is easily obtained simply by gravity. Wherever we walked were pools of various shapes and sizes, and the tinkling, cooling sounds of water followed us round. In winter, indoor fountains were simply converted into roaring braziers. Here are some photos of the gardens:
The Courtyard of the Lions. Water springs from the mouths of twelve marble lions who bear a twelve-sided bowl. The pillars are thought to be a forest of gilded trees. The emir would have walked with eminent guests here. At other times it would have been used by the women of his harem. My header image is one of the views we took of Granada from Alhambra. Here are a couple of others. I particularly like the one showing the snow-capped Sierra Nevada.
Inside the Palace the beautiful arches and mosaics are still evident. In most places the wonderful colours have long since gone, but there are occasional glimpses of how amazing they might have looked.
One building we saw was a definte cube-shape from the outside, but on the inside was a circular patio. It was one of the later strucures, started by Charles V in 1527 who wanted a permanent palace in the Alhambra. Unfortunately, the building was never completed and remained without a roof until the twentieth century. I have so many more photos of Alhambra as well as from all the sites we visited on this awesome trip to Andalucía. I already feel that this post is far too long, so it’s time to come to an end.