Thursday, January 20, 2011

La Alhambra.

After living in Spain for five months, we finally made it up the famous castle-meets-fotress-meets-palace, that is the Alhambra. Some background on the Alhambra for those of you who don't know: The Alhambra, literally "the red one", is a palace and fortress complex constructed during the mid 14th century by the Moorish rulers of the Emirate of Granada in Al-Andalus, occupying the top of the hill of the Assabica on the southeastern border of the city of Granada. Yes, that was from Wikipedia, but yes, I verified it with my own knowledge and information. Hah. Our guide was also my literature teacher and gave us some great information. For example, there were once 2,000 inhabitants in the hilly, walled city of Alhambra. It had a military zone, three full palaces, all constucted with clay, stone, and gypsum.

Anyway! I took Alex and Chelsea for their upcoming birthdays and Brandon came along as our photographer. Half of the following photos were taken with his SLR and half with my Canon Powershot. However, either can do this magical place justice.

The entrance (that we took) to get into the Alhambra. The walls are clay with a red tinge to them. However, they are incredibly strong. There was a massive metal door to protect the Arabic city within, as well has a large open ceiling, from which archers could fire at intruders. There is a Virgin Mary near the entrance that the Spaniards added once they conquered it. However, there is also still "El Mano de Fátima" or "El Mano de Hamsa" which is the Arabic symbol of defense against the evil eye, or evil intruders in this case. Once inside, there is a zigzag hallway to the rooms, as another form of defense and confusion.

The following photos are views from the Torre de Vela, in the military "wing" of the Alhambra. The tower was another form of defense, to spot intruders from a distance. There are also barracks and prison cells at the base of the tower.

The vast "circle" within the greater "square, that is the Alhambra:

This is a plaza, just before Palacio Comárex. The wall details are geometric shapes, vegetable and plant life, and poetry. The plant-based art exists because the Muslim belief was that using humans or animals to construct something in the name of Allah or the king was wrong. So they only used plants! And the key plants were acorns, pinecones (representing a union between the people and Allah), and shells (representing speech and oration to Allah). The poetry is in Arabic calligraphy and is an ode to a beautiful Arabic woman, who is really, the personification of the Alhambra. Intense, I know. I wish I could read it. :(

Then we walked into one of the three palaces, called "Palacio Comárex," which took my breath away. Look at how amazing this is! The mirror pool and both ends of this palace are stunning.

This is the entrance/center of the Leones Palace. Unfortunately, a little part of the center was under construction so they had to put up these walls around it. However, it is still very cool.

This elaborate ceiling is in the "Sala de los dos hermanos," or "Salon of the two brothers" within Palacio Leones.

Also, there are four gardens for the Leones Palace alone! Here is the view from the end of one:

Finally, our guide was María Carmen has taught two of my classes and will teach another next semester. She is ridiculously intelligent and well-read and didn't bring a single note or cue-card for herself on this tour. I was impressed. She is just tops and kind as can be. So I asked her to take a picture with us. :) So here is my wonderful teacher, María Carmen!


  1. Laura!
    I have just done some major catch up on reading your lovely blog, and have concluded two things. The first is that we must skype, because not only do I miss you, but now I feel left out! The second is that you have to come back to London to see my favorite place ever! Ok, it's the British Museum, which just goes to prove that I am a super nerd, but you'd like it a lot as well. Basically, the British have hijacked treasures from all over the world and they are stored in one place! Hooray!

    I loved the Alahambra pictures, that place has got to be just amazing in person. And I could definitely see you happy in Amsterdam haha-it's a pretty cool place. Talk to you soon I hope!

    Love Ava

  2. I love (LOVE!) La Alhambra. I would be curious to know if María Carmen could explain how they got those fountains to work. I remember our guide explaining it... but that was 10 years ago.