We started our trip to Granada before sunrise and I got this not very good photo of the sun, through the coach window, as it began to emerge from the sea. As we neared our destination we got glimpses of the Alhambra with a backdrop of snow covered mountains.
I found the history of these magnificant buildings fascinating and our guide made it easy to imagine life as it was all those centuries ago.
The name Alhambra comes from an Arabic root which means "red or crimson castle", perhaps due to the hue of the towers and walls that surround the entire hill of La Sabica which by starlight is silver but by sunlight is transformed into gold. But there is another more poetic version, evoked by the Moslem analysts who speak of the construction of the Alhambra fortress "by the light of torches", the reflections of which gave the walls their particular coloration. Created originally for military purposes, the Alhambra was an "alcazaba" (fortress), an "alcázar" (palace) and a small "medina" (city), all in one.
There is no reference to the Alhambra as being a residence of kings until the 13th century, even though the fortress had existed since the 9th century. The Nasrites were probably the emirs who built the Alhambra, starting in 1238.
The founder of the dynasty, Muhammed Al-Ahmar, began with the restoration of the old fortress. His work was completed by his son Muhammed II, whose immediate successors continued with the repairs. The Alhambra became a Christian court in 1492.
During the 18th century and part of the 19th, the Alhambra fell into neglect and its salons were converted into dungheaps and taverns,occupied by thieves and beggars. Napoleon's troops used it as a barracks from 1808 until 1812. In 1870 the Alhambra was declared a national monument and it is protected, cared for and preserved and has many visitors.
This is the oldest part of the Alhambra, reconstructed upon the ruins of a castle in the 9th century.
The Alhambra contains the three divisions usually found in a Moslem palace, including a reception salon and the royal apartments Chamber of the Lions. (under restoration so no pictures)
Examples of mosaics found throughout the building.
The lions were undergoing restoration and were covered so could not get a picture. This is just one corner of the courtyard leading to the royal appartments.
This is an image I found to show what it looked like before.
The Court of the Lions is characterised by its profound originality, a harmonious merging of East and West. It has been compared to a grove of 124 palm trees, most with double columns, around the oasis of the central fountain with its twelve lions.
Four large halls border the courtyard. The reflection of the building in the water was specifically designed to give visiting ambassadors the impression of a huge imposing building.
Beautiful carved ceilings.
The gardens are terraced and specifically designed so that the palace can be viewed from each level.
Below are some of the different areas of the gardens.
The gardens are still cultivated much as they always have been.
You may be able to see the caves in this mountain are inhabited and they are now homes to gypsy families.
General views from the palace.
This is one of the many different small courtyards, most have a fountain.
I really enjoyed my visit and if I ever had the opportunity I would like to see it again as I think it's difficult to absorb everything the first time around. So if you're ever in this part of Spain I recommend you put it on your itinerary.
Whatever your plans have a great weekend. I'm doggy sitting and have just been on a last walk and Angel (my niece's dalmation) is now fast asleep. I know I'll be getting plenty of excercise this weekend so I'd better hit the sack pretty soon then I might be up bright and early even though it's Saturday.
Labels: alhambra, photo, Spain