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Features > Madrid, Spain (July 2006) > Granada & Alhambra


When Daniel came over from Milwaukee to visit me in Spain, in addition to exploring Madrid I thought we should explore another Spanish city. I had already been to Barcelona (although another visit would have been great), so we decided to pay a visit to Granada and the Alhambra. Although the train ride is 4-5 hours from Madrid, and they only show Spainish language movies on the ride, the trip is well worth it.

Granada is at the base of the Sierra Nevada and in the South of Spain but not along the coast, this historic city is quite beautiful - as the poem says:

"Give him alms, woman because there is nothing like the pain of being blind in Granada"
Francisco de Icaza


From the open courtyard outside our room at Casa de los Migueletes Hotel, we could see an array of superior architecture. The hotel is in the historic Albayzin area declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1984. The taxi took us from the rail station to the main square (Plaza Nueva) of the city and just to the right, forward, and right a couple blocks was the hotel.

The hotel is a restored 17th century mansion with 25 rooms that at one time housed soliders. The staff was very friendly, the breakfast was delicious and along with wine tasting offered in the evening made our stay special.
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Just south of the hotel is a small stream and up a very STEEP hill is the Alhambra. This is probably why the Romans, Moors, and Catholic Monarchs of Spain chose this site as the seat of power for the region.
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Although the walk up the hill from Plaza Nueva is quite steep, the walk along the gardens has plenty of shade and if you start in the morning it is better than a bus ride. Here's a a scene from within the complex. Reserving tickets online is highly recommended otherwise you'll spend a few hours on a good day standing in line since only a certain number of visitors are allowed into the site and only 350 per half hour into the Nasrid Palace (Palacios Nazaries).
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Ruins (perhaps Roman?) on the way up to the oldest area of Alhambra
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Ornate decorations outside the Palace of Charles V. The structure, a square with a circle inside was started in 1527 but the roof and other key features were not finished until after World War II.
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Inside the palace
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A panoramic view overlooking Granada from an area just near the entrance to the oldest area of Alhambra where the structures and elaborate decorations of the Moors that controlled the area at one time. There was a line even for those with tickets here for perhaps 30 minutes and large groups and individuals alternated admission slots.
Within this area, the Palacios Nazaries, in the Sultan's room, after the Moors were conquered by the Catholic Monarchs, Christopher Columbus came here to ask Isabel and Ferdinand for the financing of his trip that was supposed to find a route to the Orient
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As Muslim culture as a rule forbade depictions of people or icons to prevent idolatry, the focus of the decoration is usually elaborate geometric or tiered ceiling designs.
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A courtyard in the Alhambra
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The detailed decorative work is amazing!
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Here, a pointing hand of another tourist appears amongst the layers of detail. Since most areas were packed with other tourists taking photos and video, I tried to take more photos of detail items or alternate views.
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The Patio of the Lions is one of the important sights of the Alhambra. It has been said that the lions were most likely sculpted by members of the Caliphate's Christian community, as making such representational sculpture was not considered allowed by the followers of Islam. The twelve lions functioned as a clock with water flowing from a different lion each hour. The Christians of the Reconquest took apart the clock to see how it worked and it hasn't worked since.
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An extended exposure while zooming out makes the water of the fountain leap to life
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