Saturday, July 14, 2012

the Alhambra

The walk from our hostal to the Alhambra was a straightfoward 25 minute stroll. We had been told that the walk was a miserable one uphill and we should take a bus. But we weren't in a hurry so we decided to brave it. 

The walk took us through a pleasant park, and while it was up a hill, it wasn't unpleasant because it was mostly in the shade. 

history

The Alhambra has a rich history that anyone can Google and read about, so I'll give you a quick rundown:
  • Built in the 1200s sometime by the Moorish kings and sultans and was a stronghold of Moorish power in Spain. The Moors (or should I say the "Moops"?) basically held power until they were kicked out by the Christian kings in the late 1400s.
  • At some point during the Christian Reconquista (around 1492), Carlos V captured the Alhambra and built his own palace there to live in. 
  • Spanish kings used this as a residence until Napoleon used it as a garrison for his troops in a campaign in Spain and completely trashed the place. 
  • It was restored and used as a tourist attraction.
As a result, there are 4 main things to see: the military garrison-tower, the palace of Carlos V, the Palacios Nazaries (the Moorish royal palace), and the Generalife gardens.

tickets

Everyone says to buy tickets for the Alhambra in advance - I would agree. If you already have your tickets, you don't have to wait in the ticket line and risk not getting any tickets. When you buy tickets, it gives you a time during which you can enter the Palacios Nazaries. The rest of the ticket gives you general admission to the entire complex, but the only timed section is for the Nazaries. If you have a morning ticket, you can enter in the morning and stay as long as you like as long as you don't leave. We had afternoon tickets, which means you can enter any time after 2pm and stay as long as you like. 

Because our Nazaries reservation was at 3pm, we had time starting at about 2pm to walk around the Palace of Carlos V first. 

Palace of Carlos V

It reminded me a bit of the Colosseum in Rome, and you can see why. 
But we had some time, so we took our time, looking at the free Museum of the Alhambra as well (a few artifacts of Moorish art, nothing too spectacular) and experimenting with Robin's autotimer to take a picture of us. 
Alas, Robin has the picture of us, so when I get it and the link I'll post it here =). 

Palacios Nazaries

Were the most gorgeous part of the Alhambra. I'll just post a few pictures, because they speak louder than words. 


You can see the rest of the photos on mine and Robin's Flickr albums. But my favorite photo is the creation of this new art form - seeing sights in the reflection of someone else's sunglasses

the stronghold tower

Has some pretty cool views of the Albaycin from the top, and some pretty cool flags. 
 This is the view of the tower you go on top of.
And the four flags that fly at the Alhambra - the EU, the Andalucía regional flag, the flag of Spain, and the local flag of Granada. 

Generalife

Is not actually pronounced "General Life." It's pronounced "hénéraleefay", and are some pretty gardens. It's a nice place to walk around and cool off in the shade while munching on the remnants of lunch before heading back to the hostal for a siesta! There's also a Moorish sultan's small house there, supposedly one he used as a retreat from the rest of Moorish society to enjoy his gardens. 

in general

Everyone should visit the Alhambra if they get a chance. It is the most gorgeous structure I've ever seen in Spain.