Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Saturday (Granada)...

A front passed through overnight, bringing a light rain and crisp morning temperatures. Nevertheless, bright sun and clear blue skies greeted us in the morning. Started the day with a pastry and a walk through some of the old city. Wandering the narrow shaded alleys of the Alcaiceria...the old Moorish silk was easy to imagine shoppers following these same step centuries ago. Today, the tiny shops are crammed floor to ceiling with colorful trinkets...mostly with the feel of "tourist quality", but who knows, these could be artisan crafts from Morocco for all I know. Still, the colorful fabrics, varieties of leather, and dull-gray metal jewelry are a sight to see.

Entered the Royal Chapel, the burial place for Isabel and Ferdinand...the Catholic monarchs who united their kingdoms to create Spain...and most importantly for this visit, they retook Granada and the Alhambra...the last stand for the Moors on the Iberian Peninsula. The chapel is located off of the cathedral. It has an enormous high altar, but the Royal Chapel is dominated by the Italian marble tombs of Isabel and Ferdinand and their daughter and son-in-law Juana and Philip. (Philip was called Philip the cool it that. I think I will use 'John the Fabulous' from now on and see if it sticks.) A narrow set of stairs take you just below the floor to peer at the simple lead coffins of the monarchs.

From the tomb of the conquering monarchs, we headed up to see their prize conquest...the mighty Alhambra...a sprawling complex perched high above Granada. The climb was steep-but-shaded. The temperature drop made the walk tolerable. While we awaited our alloted time to enter the ticketed portions of the complex, we toured Charles V's Palace...or at least the captivating interior...a two-level, circular courtyard with marble columns.

On to the main attraction...thr Palacios Nazaries...the Moorish palace. This the must-see Moorish sight in all of Spain. The rooms are covered with intricate stucco patterns, punctuated with pinpoint-windows of light. Water runs throughout the can imagine the water entering thru aqueducts above the city and flowing through many tiny diversions to feed fountains and pools and winding channels. Unfortunately, in the palace, many of the water features were dry...some for restoration and some (most likely) because there are just so many people. And this is where the wonder was lost. We had just come from Sevilla, where the lush Real Alacazar enchanted us...and the Alhambra just seemed crowded. Ah was still beautiful...but perhaps next visit, we will do a nighttime tour...when most of the tourists are long gone. Till then...

A dusty walk through the imposing 13th-century Alcazaba fortifications at the tip of the Alhambra, and a hot walk up through the center of the complex...and we were feeling rather overwhelmed. What a wonderful surprise when we entered the Generalife...with its summer home, tiered gardens, and (most importantly) fountains. Water...water everwhere. Even a staircase with banisters of running water...awesome! THAT was what I wanted. :) As if to say "here is more water", as we were returning to the city along the Cuesta del Rey Chico a gush of water exited the walls of the Alhambra...done running through fountains...back into the Darro River.

We dined on a long plaza along the Darro under a vine-draped canopy. Tapas as we viewed the well-lit Alhambra against a pitch-black sky. Drinks and wonderful loungy music at the cozy El Rincon de San Pedro with the sound of rushing water over a fall just below.

No comments: