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Video of the Alhambra

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Get your Shisha out and pour yourself some Arabic tea to get you in the mood for 1001 Arabian Nights, and let the video do the rest.

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February 13, 2010 at 6:03 pm Comments (3)

Granada – The Rest of the Alhambra

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Granada’s famous Alhambra complex is more than just the incredible Nazrid Palaces. Here’s a quick overview (and a lot of pictures) of the other highlights.

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The Generalife Palace and Gardens were a summer residence for the ruling Moorish nobility. Situated on a hill across from the Nazrid palaces, they enjoyed a spectacular view. The main garden is exquisite; a long, narrow pool with jumping fountains surrounded on all sides by lush vegetation, leading visitors to the main building. The visitable interior of the palace is small and not nearly as impressive as the main residence, but still cool in its own, rustic way.

The Alcazaba is the Alhambra’s defensive outpost, and the most visible section from the city itself. Resembling the prow of a ship, here the Moors kept watch for marauders and invading armies, and it must have been the scene of incredible battles. From the top tower, you get a dizzying view of the Granadian valley.

The Place of Charles V was built well after Christians displaced the Moors and sticks out like a huge, square thumb among the more delicate architecture it was plopped in front of. Still, it’s an architecturally interesting building, with the outer square concealing a perfectly circular courtyard.

The Alhambra complex also has a self-contained village, with stores and residences where workers and non-royalty lived. Souvenir shops still line the streets, though thrifty travelers would be well-advised to buy trinkets elsewhere. When you add to all of this a huge garden and long, shaded paths, you can easily see why a visit to the Alhambra can easily consume most of a day.

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February 9, 2010 at 5:51 pm Comments (4)

Granada – The Nazrid Palaces of the Alhambra

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Patio-de-los-Arrayanes “I gave myself up, during my sojourn in the Alhambra, to all the romantic and fabulous traditions connected with the pile. I lived in the midst of an Arabian tale, and shut my eyes, as much as possible, to every thing that called me back to every-day life; and if there is any country in Europe where one can do so, it is in poor, wild, legendary, proud-spirited, romantic Spain; where the old magnificent barbaric spirit still contends against the utilitarianism of modern civilization.”

– Washington Irving
on his stay in the Alhambra, 1832

The Nazrid Palaces of the Alhambra, one of the world’s great architectural and cultural treasures, is the pinnacle of Granada’s plentiful touristic offerings.

The very fact of the palace’s survival, let alone its pristine state, is a miracle. Washington Irving, the American author who lived there for months as a guest, relates in his popular collection Tales of the Alhambra a legend about an ancient blessing, carved into the stone entrance, which has protected it over the centuries.

I find it more likely that even the most vicious and intolerant of marauding armies were unable to destroy such beauty.

The Alhambra (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) was built in the mid-14th century by the Moorish rulers of Al-Andalus, who had chosen Granada as their capital. Walking through the palace’s incredible quarters, it’s impossible not to sense 700 years of history encompassing you. The beauty and intricacy of the construction is unreal, but we’ll let the pictures speak to that.

For visitors to Granada, the Nazrid Palaces (palacios nazaríes) are a must-see. But take care: you’ll have to book tickets in advance. A limited number of people are allowed into the grounds at any given time. Once inside, though, you can take your time. Too many people don’t realize this, and show up at the Alhambra hoping to get tickets, only to leave disappointed.

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February 5, 2010 at 10:54 am Comments (11)