The Alhambra is a very big place. It’s not just one single site with a staircase or two. It covers quite a few acres and has a number of buildings to explore as well as the towers and battlements of the Alcazaba. Because of that, it makes sense that any tourist worth her salt would be wearing runners at the very least. Jeans and a t-shirt would also be a lot more comfortable than more exotic outfits.
Bearing the above in mind, it’s always worth a jolly good chuckle when people appear at these places in completely inappropriate clothes. Take the woman in the photograph below.
I’m not at all critical of her general sense of style. I am somewhat mystified why she thought it sensible to wear clunky heeled shoes, fishnet tights and a cocktail dress to visit the Generalife. Particularly when the fellow with her was wearing jeans, a hoodie and runners.
Our clothing, obviously was completely appropriate for the conditions and situation. It was slightly chilly first thing so we had fleeces on but these were soon discarded as we started the long trek that was today’s tourist session.
The Alhambra was on Mirinda’s bucket list and, as far as I’m concerned, should be on everyone’s. It is an amazing place. It brings together the early Moorish influences of early Southern Spain with the Catholic devastation of my favourite psychopath, Isabella.
Our tour started in the beautiful Nasrid Palaces. When you book your ticket you have to indicate a time for this visit and you have to be there for that time or you’re not allowed in. They limit the people to visit at any time because of the nature of the buildings. Anyway, our time was 9:30 and, given we only had a short walk from our hotel, we made it in plenty of time. Time, in fact, for Mirinda to run off and find a guide book while I waited in line.
The inside of the Nasrid Palaces is exquisite. It reminded me a lot of a couple of places we saw in Marrakech. The walls are decorated with Arabic script and geometric patterns which seem to flow on forever.
Captivating is the only word to describe the whole place. As you flow from room to room passing water features and rills drifting seamlessly between room and sky, you feel at peace without really knowing why…especially given the constant stream of tourist groups.
Actually I wasn’t that bothered by the hordes (except for a bit later when an Italian chap was driving me a bit mental at the Generalife). And there were hordes. Today was All Saints Day in Granada so there was a lot of people on holiday who’d figured it was a good day to see the Alhambra…along with the other 5,000 visitors.
Having spent a good hour or so walking through the Nazrid Palace, we moved on to the Alcazaba, one of the oldest parts of the entire complex and, quite obviously, meant for defence.
It sits at the end of the promontory, overlooking Granada. Strong and defiant, the yellow sandstone shining golden in the sun. The view from the tower (where Boabdil surrendered to Isabella and Ferdinand) is spectacular, particularly on yet another beautiful day.
We were getting pretty worn out at this stage so we stopped for a coffee in a lovely (and popular) outdoor coffee spot before heading back to the garden behind the Nasrid in order to head for the Generalife.
The Generalife (it means either ‘market garden’ or ‘estate of the architect’) was a sort of summer palace for the rulers – Moorish and Catholic. It sits on a ravine separated hill overlooking the Alhambra complex. To access the palace, the visitor must wend their way through some gorgeous gardens, meandering all the way. There’s even a massive outdoor theatre to admire. But, then, eventually, you reach the palace.
Again, there’s more water features and a very successful effort at bringing the outside and inside together in perfect harmony.
Eventually we’d had enough and headed back to the Paradore terrace cafe for a late but well earned lunch.
A few hours later, we collected our luggage from the Paradore and wandered a hundred feet down the road to our next place of residence, the Hotel America, a quirky little place. Without a lift.
Tomorrow we leave Granada for Cordova. Feeling a bit sad as we’ve fallen in love with Granada.
PS: Just a note in passing. Late in the day we went for a walk down to the Carlos V Palace which was closing, and I spotted a group of four nuns, all dressed in blue. At one stage two of them had managed to head off into a big arch while the other two were busy talking. The two left behind suddenly noticed they’d been separated and dashed off to join the others. They looked quite joyful. I think it’s probably the first time I’ve ever seen a nun running. Well, except for Sally Fields I suppose…and Julie Andrews.