More Spanish countryside
Oh you’re still here? Okay, so the third part of the trip was Granada, which was a lovely town. Kyle and I agreed it was our favorite place we visited in Spain. It was small enough to be friendly but big enough to be interesting. It had a great old Ottoman section with rambling alleyways and free tapas in every bar. Here is a picture of the downtown from above:
Granada also has the coolest street lamps ever:
This is the place where Christianity triumphed over Islam. The Moorish empire set up Al Hambra, a huge castle that we visited, toward the end of Muslim rule of Spain in the 1300s. Then Isabella and Ferdinand took it over in 1492 and ran the Islamic king, Muhammad XII, over to Africa. Spain officially became Christian. To this day, Isabella and Ferdinand have thumbprints all over Granada. We even toured the church where they are buried.
And of course, we went of Al Hambra, which is one of the major sites of Europe–although not that popular with Americans, it seems. Because I did not get tickets ahead of time, we had to get up early and stand in a long line in the dark in the hopes of getting in. Luckily, we did and it was probably the best thing we did in Spain. The castle is at once romantic, gorgeous, historical, and educational. I felt enriched after going there.
It is hard to sum up something like Al Hambra , but I will break it down into a few key points:
1. It is huge. It is the kind of place where you can’t take a good picture of it because it is so big. The castle spans on and on and you just can’t quite take it all into your brain. It has to be experienced to be appreciated.
2. The history is visceral. Here is an example: after Ferdinand and Isabella took over the castle, Columbus came to them and proposed a journey to India, which led to the fabled discovery of America. I walked through the room where he made that proposition to them, and the ceiling, 20 feet above my head, was wooden with an inlaid golden milky way of stars and moons and planets. When you see this, you can’t see how Isabella could have said no to the man. She was sitting under the “sky” in the castle she had just conquered while he proposed expanding her kingdom all over the world.
3. It is gorgeous. I had never seen Ottoman art before and I was amazed by it. The carvings was everywhere, on the walls, on the doors, on the ceilings, and it changed constantly. One moment the ceiling was a milky way, the next we were walking inside a giant honeycomb, and the next we were standing in a courtyard surrounded by fountains and plants. Everything was designed so that your gaze feel naturally to the prettiest places. And the carving–all hand done, of course–was intricate and perfect. Random sample:
Pictures of Al Hambra:
Me in the garden
Spain 1: Madrid
Spain 2: Tarifa and Morocco
Spain 3: Granada
Spain 4: Barcelona
Joy Lanzendorfer » Spain 4: Barcelona
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