Granada’s Alhambra has one of the greatest WOW! factors of almost any historical monument-y thing that we’ve seen so far. You can probably tell that from Andy’s face up there eh?
Plus, did you know that Gaga actually wrote her song about the Alhambra, but was forced to change the lyrics to make it sexier?
*(That is unable to hold up against actual questions of truth, but the statement of which does allow me to segue into the mention that I had that bloody song in my head the whole damn trip. Don’t call my name, Ala-hambra!)
Being as we were travelling with my folks, we woke up at the crack of dawn, so that we could arrive at the Alhambra at least 1.5 hours before our timed entrance into the palace.
It was freezing cold! (Again, by Spanish standards, and because I was too lazy to bring the jacket).
Andy and I spent a lot of time near the toilets (it was warm) and ‘buying terrible coffee’ to hold in our hands for warmth.
Ariel went off to gawk at ‘sooty owls’ (tree cats).
^ It looks like love, but I am actually hugging him mostly to try to suck out the warmth.
See! Practically dawn. And again, this is not Deutschland where dawn=9am.
So, as the saying goes, we ‘watched the sun rise with the balloons’, and jiggled up and down on the spot to keep warm.
Do you care for a bit of history while we wait?
The Alhambra originated as a small fortification (800s!), before being built up from ruins in the 11th century, and further developed in the 1300s to be the base of the rather impressive sounding ‘Nasrid Dynasty’. Like (I suspect) almost all the great Muslim beauties in the region, the Catholics stole it in the late 1400s and claimed it as their own, before letting it fall into disrepair. Squatters moved in, and it was only in 19th century that a restoration effort began- and now it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Given its height, fortification, large gardens, and surplus of water, we suspect that it would make a good stronghold come the Zombie apocalypse.
So, finally it was our turn to enter the Nazrid Palace (Note- you have to buy a ticket than includes the Nazrid as well as just the general Alhambra if you want to go here. Definitely worth it).
^I think he is trying to huddle with himself.
The palace is choc-a-block filled with tessellating tiles (the sort that literally inspired MC Escher), intricate plaster work, and cut-out windows.
It was at this point that Andy and I decided that Islamic decorations are more beautiful, more diverse and generally less gaudy than Catholic decorations.
Sorry Catholics- but I think the limitations of Islam- which prevent them from just continuously reproducing the same picture of baby with mother- leads to greater artistic vision in the long run.
^Ariel refusing to knock with me.
^Tall Andrew is even taller than Tall Andy, who is Tall. But neither are as Tall as Palace Walls.
There was a lot of Palace Posing going on that day.
The rather dramatically named ‘Court of Lions’:
Andy might be unimpressed by the lions, he might be trying to roar. He might just be tired.
A view across the valley. Seems unfair that the sun got to them before us!
Andy and I exited the palace and reached the sunlight first (winners!) and spent 10 minutes basking, looking at fishies, and throwing small rocks at persimmon trees, while we waited for the others.
^Darn smug birds with their wings and their fruit-eating capabilities.
^The closest I will ever get to having a cat.
We managed to get the family to pose like so:
(Mostly by heavily hinting that, given the opportunity, my in-laws would be more than willing to play with us).
..and then Andy ran around, trying to out-step his mother (via fitbit+internet), and touching things he wasn’t really allowed to touch.
Meanwhile, the AMs tried to touch the cats- for about half an hour- which caused Andy much un-excitement.
We headed up some more rather Zombie-proof looking fortifications, and were rewarded for our efforts with VIEWS.
^All the little *cough* fishies *cough* swimming towards his head.
Check out ’em clouds!
When you’ve tired of the palaces and fortress, you can head to the Generallife, which basically amounts to a great garden, punctuated with fountains and windows.
Below is Andy’s favourite feature of the Alhambra, a set of steps with ‘canals’ as banisters, and central fountains that drop under the tiles to the lower floor. Very cool.
^The Doctor Andrews compare compasses.
In the end, we spent the majority of the day roaming around the various Alhambra parts- so don’t plan yourself much of an itinerary for the afternoon/evening if Alhambra is on your list (and it should be!)- plus, be aware that you should enter in the morning- to give yourself time, and also because apparently it less crowded then in the on season.
Andy and I walked from the Alhambra back into the town centre, which was super fast (faster than the bus) and very picturesque.
Ok. Final views. Alhambra at night: