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Alhambra and Granada in the rain

By Wednesday, June 18, 2014 , , , , ,

The Alhambra at Granada is a beautiful and extensive example of Islamic Architecture in Europe, with a castle, gardens and famous palaces full of intricate, detailed mosaics and carvings.



I had visited the Alhambra when I was very young, so young in fact, that when the tour guide told how one of the kings or sultans would chase the ladies of his harem around the gardens, and when one was caught she had to spend the night with him, I didn't understand why the Sultan would want to do that.

I also remembered mosaics and the famous Court of the Lions, but only very vaguely. So I was looking forwards to returning as an adult, and happily bought our bus and entrance tickets back in February, before there was a weather forecast available.

So of course it rained, heavily. And although I had an umbrella, I hadn't brought my heavy boots with me to the Costa del Sol. My feet got soaked, and I spent most of the day very cold. Despite this, we visited as many areas as we could, including the Nasrid Palaces.

The Alhambra complex may have been built on the remains Roman or other structures, but a new wave of construction started in the 9th century under king Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar. Through the next several hundred years, the region saw wars and invasions, and it wasn't until the 13th Century that the famous Nasrid Palaces were built. In 1492 the complex was brought under Christian rule by Ferdinand and Isabella's Reconquista, and their successors continued to use it and later built the (very boring) Palace of Charles the V in 1526.

Before I go any further, I should point out that if you want to see the Alhambra, you should book your tickets in advance.  You select not only the day, but the time you want to enter the Nasrid Palaces, and there are limited slots that fill up fast. People were lining up well ahead of time to make sure they got to spend as much time as possible in the palaces.


The Alcazaba (The Fortress - there is also one in Malaga) 

To enter the complex, you have to climb a steep hill, then pass through one of several gate houses, with names like the Gate of Justice and the Gate of Wine. We entered near the Alcazeba and the Palaces, and climbed around the Alcazaba first.
 



The remains of the houses where the Royal Guard lived.






The Generalife  (Architect's Gardens)

I'm pretty sure we only saw a small portion of this part. The Alhambra's Website describes there being vegetable gardens and residential buildings, but we only saw a few flower gardens and open air buildings.









Once we had our tickets checked, we wandered through hall after hall of ornate carvings and mosaics. Each hall has it's own name and significance, and every now and again we'd catch something the tour guides said:
This is the Hall of the Two Sisters,  the Chamber of the Ambassadors, the Queen's Robing Room. 
We let the tour groups snake past us and took our time. Once you're in the Palaces you don't have a time limit, so it's better to get in early and don't rush.






The whole palace is like this, just room after room of carvings and mosaics. 





By the time our Nasrid Palaces tour started I was soaked and cold, especially my feet. Fortunately, my husband let we wear a spare pair of socks he'd brought with him, athough it made our section of the (half empty) bus smell a bit like feet.

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