The Alhambra is why tourists come to Granada, although there are other places to see, including but not limited to a hospital that has been in existence since the Middle Ages, the Arab quarter (to which was connected a Jewish quarter - they weren´t always at war with each other, especially with fierce Christians bearing down on them) with shops in narrow alleys that reminded Mary of Morocco, a simply magnificent cathedral, adjacent to which is a chapel where Queen Isabella, her husband Fernando, her daughter "Juana la Loca", and Juana´s husband, Felipe are interred, and a university with a law school.
The Alhambra sits upon a boat shaped mountain that dominates the small city of Granada(pop. about 260,000), the prow of which is the Alcazara ("alcazar" means "fortress" in Arabic), the midsection of which are stunning palaces built by Moorish kings and a Renaissance palace built by the grandson of the Isabella and Ferdinand, the power couple who conquered Granada in 1492, and, finally, the stern of which made up of gardens and the remains of the "medina", the medieval town that developed safely within Alhambra´s protection. (The boat metaphor is not mine, but may have been first coined by Washington Irving, whose Tales from the Alhambra lead to a rediscovery of what was a nearly forgotten and neglected colossal relic.)
Connected to the Alhambra by a bridge which spans a deep gully is the Generalife, a sort of "country palace" built on a nearby ridge by one of the later Moorish kings. I found most striking about the Generalife its carefully tended gardens that even in the rain were beautiful and fragrant.
To get to the Alhambra, we got up early, had breakfast at our pension, and took a short bus ride up the mountain. We were inside the gates before 9:00 AM. We walked back down the mountain (in the rain) about 1:30 PM, having seen far more than we could digest, and had lunch in a plaza far below Alhambra's bow in a Pan & Company" shop, Spain´s version of a fast-food restaurant. (We were too tired to explore the side streets for an interesting cafe or tavern.)
Now, having taken about 90 minutes to nap and to refresh in the snug sala of our pension, we are ready to roam again.
Ah, Alhambra! Two crazy things i did there in 1989:
1. stood on one of the downspouts on the opposite side of the wall about 4 stories up
2. drank from one of the streams in the Generalife because it looked so clean and clear.
and lived to tell the tale! ;-)
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