The Alhambra is a Moorish palace and fortress complex located at the top of a hill in the city of Granada, Andalusia Spain. It was built in the 8th century by the Moors, or if you are a fan of the Seinfeld Show the Moops.
Alhambra Fortress and Granada, Spain
Historians have called the Alhambra “pearls set among emeralds” referring to the sunset glow on the fortress walls which used to be white, on top of the lush green forest. Swallows circle endlessly in the mornings and evenings. They can cause a real problem for photographers as, depending upon the camera shutter speed, they can look like dust spots. After many exposures, I was able to capture these three chirping swallows in flight.
The Muslims ruled this area for about 700 years until there was a slow and lengthy uprising, over taxes, which eventually got them booted out, coincidentally in 1492. Granada still has a very heavy Muslim character to it. Parts of old Granada, with the narrow walled streets with leather merchants and hooka shops are how I envision Morocco to be, but on a much more tame level. Old Granada, the Albaicín section, had great restaurants selling the basics of falafel and shawarma. These staples were very much like what one would get back in the States, but without any hot sauces. It seems the Spanish in these parts do not go for the hot foods. However, the lamb couscous I ordered the best ever.
Here is a view of the moon rising over the Alhambra from the patio of our rented home. Just after this photo was taken, we headed off to our evening tour of the Alhambra.
If you wish to visit, be sure to get your tickets well in advance. It never occurred to me that obtaining tour tickets would be the problem. At the city ticket office a very frazzled young Spanish lady was telling groups and groups of astonished, disbelieving tourists no tickets were available for the rest of May, in very broken English. The tourists of all nationalities would then chatter and try to ask again what the problem was. The problem is its popularity. To help manage the site and for the enjoyment of the lucky visitors, ticket sales are limited. I offered to partner up with a couple from England who knew where we could get scalper tickets and a private tour for €300 euros instead of the normal ticket price of €15. They were leaving the next afternoon and we could not get together on a time. Not one to give up, I then visited two travel agencies on the main drag and they confirmed no tickets were available until mid June. The third spot I visited, no larger than a six feet square, claimed to have a few tickets remaining, but for a tour of the palace which started at 22:00. Ten at night! What will I see in the dark? While I’m glad we went, it was not the best for photography. These tickets also were good for the following morning tour of the gardens. Yet nowhere on the tickets did it mention this. When traveling, one needs to have some faith and the price was right, €15 each.
I have been in many European cathedrals and St. Peters in the Vatican, so I’ve seen complex ceilings. However, the Islamic design of these ceilings of carved and molded plaster defy geometric description.
Over the centuries, the Alhambra was ignored, occupied by squatters, vandalized and damaged by poor restoration efforts. However what remains is a very beautiful glimpse at what it must have been like in its prime.
Hopefully you have heard of Alhambra Water in the USA, this fortress with plentiful water is where it gets the name. The Darro river runs through Granada and there is no shortage of water. Presumably the water supply is the snow melt in the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains. The gardens and fountains in the Alhambra make extensive use of the readily available supply of water.
Granada Catholic Cathedral
The building of a major Catholic cathedral obviously had to wait until the Muslims were ousted from power in 1492. Granada’s grand Catholic Cathedral was started shortly thereafter and work continued for the next 100 or so years.
For a city and country whose food seems to be so lacking in spices, it is incongruous that large spice vendors are very common in the open air street markets. Almost 100 spices in this open air market..
The Azafran Molido spice was the most brilliant color orange I can imagine. The camera was not able to capture its color well in the bright sunlight.
Aurora Reina Madre Del Albayzin, Catholic Procession
I was fortunate to be home on Saturday afternoon when a procession from one nearby Catholic church solemnly made its way to a neighboring Catholic church about a block away down narrow twisting streets. The incense came wafting into our living room from the street below while a somber tune was played on clarinets. Eighteen men shuffled down the stone streets carrying a heavy platform adorned with the lifesized figure Aurora Reina Madre Del Albayzin.
Notice the tears in the last closeup photo. We saw posters advertising similar religious processions in other towns. I certainly enjoyed seeing this one. In the video below you can hear the wood frame creak from the weight the 18 men are carrying.