Sunday, July 26, 2009

Granada and the Alhambra

On to Granada, about 90 minutes drive from Cordoba. This is probably the place I think pictures do the least justice given the tropical beauty and intricate decoration. Granada was sexy and sultry with the Alhambra palace, hot weather, yet nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains (different from the ones with the same name in California). Granada means "pomegranate" in Spanish, so you know we were in heaven since that is Connor's very favorite fruit. We even found baby pomegranates growing in the Granada sunshine!The first night Kirk and Brooke were pooped but I was intent on breathing it all in as much as possible. I wandered solo up and around til I came upon St. Nicholas square overlooking sun soaked Granada and the Alhambra fortress/palace.What a fabulous treat to see the area glowing red in sunset. St. Nicholas square was definitely the place to be....and I was delighted to be a part of it. A great entree to Granada. I could barely wait to wake up again the next morning to explore more!I loved this green building with the sun shades at night. The blue sky, street lamp and unusual shape were incredible.In the morning we were up and at'em pretty early. Connor took her toy plane and pushed it in the empty Plaza Nueva. Twelve hours prior it was a bustling main square full of party and nightlife; in the morning it was empty and a toddler's paradise. Our hotel, Hotel Macia Plaza, was the pink building right in the center of everything. The rooms were small, but great location, another steal in price and very helpful service. We hiked uphill with the stroller to the Alhambra. Again another treasure of our world that I really knew nothing about! How can this be, when it is jaw dropping in its beauty and detail?!? The Alhambra was a Moorish palace and we toured specifically the Palacios Nazaries inside the grounds.Charles V's Palace - it never got the dome planned for the top!We stepped into the Alhambra's palace and I was transported to a different time and place altogether! The magnificent colored tiles were just one of many details that left me truly breathless. There was room upon room with carved walls with the tiniest details. Honestly the photos are nothing compared to the live and in person view. I cannot fathom how even armies of artists could have created something so stunning in a lifetime - or even in 10 lifetimes for that matter!
"You'll visit rooms decorated from top to bottom with carved wood ceilings, stucco 'stalactites,' ceramic tiles, molded-plaster walls, and filigree windows. Open-air courtyards in the palace feature fountains with bubbling water like a desert oasis, the Quran's symbol of heaven. The palace is well-preserved, but the trick is to imagine it furnished and filled with Moorish life...sultans with hookah pipes lounging on pillows upon Persian carpets, tapestries on the walls, heavy curtains on the windows, and ivory-studded wooden furniture. The whole place was painted with bright colors, many suggested by the Quran - red (blood), blue (heaven), green (oasis), and gold (wealth). And throughout the palace, walls, ceilings, vases, carpets, and tiles were covered with decorative patterns, mostly verses of praise from the Quran written in calligraphy" (Rick Steves)Connor enjoyed the Alhambra too. She was a pretty good sport because we were basically paralyzed with the splendor and for every step forward we took we would have to take a half step back to convince ourselves it was real.Overlooking Granada.We took many more photos (viewable in link below), but at the risk of bombarding this post with inadequate Alhambra photos I am going to limit myself. It is a remarkable, special place. I was shocked by this point that Spain had such a Moorish/Islamic influence. Now that I have dabbled in the history of the region I guess I shouldn't be, but it felt surprisingly foreign and alluring.
After the Alhambra palace we trotted over to the glitzy Parador hotel adjacent the palace for lunch. Brooke had many fond memories to share of her father bringing her to stay here in high school....it is where her passion for Spanish language was shaped and ignited. I adore Brooke's dad and hearing about their father-daughter trip here endeared him even more to me! So we toasted Mr. Bagwell as we sipped wine on the Parador terrace!
While us ladies all indulged in a customary 'siesta' after lunch, Kirk pressed on to the Royal Chapel (Capilla Real) and the Cathedral. The Chapel is where Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand - of Columbus fame - are buried. Their marriage accelerated the Christian and Spanish push south during the Reconquista - overtaking the Islamic hold. This last Moorish capital, Granada, was symbolic of their victory and therefore their chosen burial place.Gotta love the way Granada and much of Southern Spain use these plain sails to line the street and shade both pedestrians and cars!We bought Connor this flamenco doll and she loved her! Immediately it was named "princess" and held her focus for a while. Unfortunately though the doll's arms were pulled out pretty immediately. We saved the missing limbs to glue back in.This dress looked just like the frock our new "princess" wore!We returned to St. Nicholas square to bid adios to the day. Connor played in the square and made a furry friend. There was a wedding just cranking up in St. Nicholas church so Brooke and I gawked at all the Spanish fashion glamour!
There is an old saying: "Give him a coin, woman, for there is nothing worse in life than to be blind in Granada." This city has much to see, yet it reveals itself in unpredictable ways. As our guidebook instructs, "Don't be blind in Granada --- open your senses." Our senses were open - and they were delighted!!!

1 comment:

pickleeyes74 said...

Reid, Connor is so beautiful! I miss you at Emory so much but I am delighted that I am seeing something with your help, I will probably never take the time to see. thank you so much for taking the time to share your wonderful way with words and your exceptional ability with the camera. I feel like I am there with you. Kim Parker