We went back to Granada for a third time. There’s something about the city’s history, buildings, and of course the Alhambra, that keeps drawing us back.
On this trip we were accompanied by our friends, Sue and Allan, who were visiting from Portland, OR, which gave us the opportunity to play tour guide. The big draw in Granada is the Alhambra, the fabulous palace built for Yousf I, the Sultan of Granada, in the 14th century. It is the biggest attraction in Spain, and with good reason! We were thrilled to have an opportunity to visit it yet again.
This time we stayed in the city center, in a nice modern apartment. It was within walking distance of pretty much everything. Our main desire, though, was to see the Alhambra. Sue had gotten tickets well in advance (a necessity, even in the winter low season), and we devoted an entire day to our visit.
The day before our visit we prepared by making the long climb to the Albaicín, a very old neighborhood now quite popular with locals and tourists alike. As sunset approaches, the Plaza de San Nicolas, with its magnificent views of the Alhambra right across the ravine, fills with sightseers, photographers, venders, buskers, and the idly curious. It’s quite the scene!
|And the Alhambra just after dark|
|The Albaicin seen from the Alhambra. Plaza de San Nicolas is at the base of the white church in the upper center.|
This neighborhood is where Paula and I had stayed during our visit two years ago. We'd dined at a fine restaurant just below the Plaza. We found it again, and watched the sun set against the walls of the Alhambra as we sipped our drinks and commented on the views. Afterwards we strolled through the ancient neighborhood, admiring the stone walls and narrow, cobbled lanes, and stumbled on another memory from our past visit: a bar on the central plaza offering a truly impressive tapas buffet. What a selection! We were ready for dinner, and so double glad to revisit this memorable experience, and share it with our friends.The next day we were up early and into a taxi for the climb up the steep hill to the Alhambra. We entered through the Puerta de la Justicia, or Justice Gate (it took a while before the taxi driver could understand our poor Spanish, so once under way spent the entire 10-minute drive practicing our pronunciation of Puerta de la Justicia – just don’t ask me how to say it now!) The gate is a magnificent structure, and a fitting entrance to the Alhambra. We were a bit early for our scheduled entry at 9 AM, so we stood in line in the bright but cold sunshine and looked across the ravine at the densely packed houses of the Albaicin.
|The impressive Puerta de las Justicia. We entered through the small door on the right.|
|Allan looks back at the entry from inside the Alhambra.|
|Paula, Sue, and Allan near the Palace of Charles V|
|Patio de comares, the Court of the Myrtles|
|The Lion Fountain, with its 12 lion statues; in the Court of the Lions|
|Plaster "stalactites" in the ceiling commemorate a story of Mohammed spending a night in a cave escaping enemies.|
|Fountain in the Court of the Lindaraja|
|Fountain in the Generalife Garden|
|Circular interior of Palace of Charles V|
|A fine, more modern building in downtown Granada.|
|A view of the cathedral, Cathedral of the Incarnation.|
|The Royal Chapel of Granada, from the outside (where photos are permitted)|
|A portion of the massive altarpiece in the mausoleum of the Catholic Monarchs |
(photo credit to larkin81 on Flickr)
|The coffins of Ferdinand and Isabella, along with those of two of their children, Juana and Philip. |
(photo credit to http://capillarealgranada.com/en/)
And this is why we enjoy traveling in Europe! Tracing our roots back. Not just our personal roots, but our cultural roots – nothing gives a true feeling of history, of how we came to be who and how we are, than actually being in the spot where stuff happened. And for us, most of it happened in Europe.
|Another view from the Plaza de San Nicolas.|