04/09/2010 - 04/09/2010 30 °C
Our main reason for choosing Granada was a visit to the Alhambra which has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is one of Europe's most visited attractions.
Its history is linked with its geographic location - on a hill which was difficult to access and protected by the mountains. Originally designed as a military area, the Alhambra became the residence of royalty and of the court of Granada in the middle of the thirteenth century, after the establishment of the Nasrid kingdom.
Commenced in 1248 it was built by the Nasrid rulers and used as a residence for the sultans, military commanders, civil servants and the royal court. The beautiful intricate craftsmanship, and the use of space, light, decoration and water is spectacular. Apparently Arabic artisans, supervised by poets, were employed to engrave poems and various writings and quotations from the Koran onto the walls, arches and pillars in calligraphic decoration and arabic script.
The Charles V Palace (which was built after the city was taken by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492) is also here. There is also an independent palace opposite the Alhambra where the Granadine kings relaxed called the Generalife which is surrounded by orchards and gardens.
The complex is massive consisting of three palaces, the Alcazaba or fortress, the Medina (town area) and the Generalife. It is magnificent.
I think I will just let the pictures speak for themselves, though it is difficult to convey its splendour. Here are several to whet your interest. There are many others in my public gallery.
The Palace of Charles V is also a magnificent building, interesting in that it is built in an external square block, but with an circular internal courtyard. Chas and I visited the Museum of Fine Arts and learned that Granada has a long history of artistic excellence with many artists who have lived and worked here. The museum displayed fine examples of paintings and sculptures portraying the evolution of their art from the Christian times of 15thC to the modern day. Excellent.
Unfortunately we were unable to see one of the main attractions which is currently being restored. This is The Lions Fountain, a magnificent alabaster basin supported by the figures of twelve lions in white marble which sits in the centre of the courtyard in The Lion's Palace. This alone would be worth another visit!! I do have a postcard if anyone would like to see it.
This is an amazing complex with so much to see. I think several visits would be needed to enjoy it fully. As a result we did not have time to explore the villa of the Generalife, but we did take time to wander through the magnificent gardens before heading home. A wonderful day!! I wonder if I will ever return .... I hope so.