Casting Plaster Flowers in the Sky

My Andalusian adventures continued in Granada…

We left Seville in a rented white BMW. After a short stop in the ancient Roman hilltop town of Carmona for an espresso and a brief poke around its fortified Seville Gate, I pointed the nose east across an open country of low rolling hills and olive groves.

I miss taking road trips since I relocated to Malta. The roads are cramped there, the driving is hectic and it’s always clogged with traffic. But in Spain we could pick up some coffee, put on some music, and just sit back and coast as the land unrolled like a film.

Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, and the road got hilly towards the end of the 3 or 4 hour drive. Like Seville, it’s a city of beautiful Islamic architecture.

We already talked about the Moorish conquest of Spain in an earlier blog on Seville, so I won’t rehash that here. Click back to the earlier instalment if you missed that bit of history and need to catch up.

Rather than blather — how’s that for alliteration? — I want to share some photos with you.

My main interest on this trip was the Umayyad, Almoravid and Almohad history of Andalucia. And so of course the big Granada attraction had to be the Alhambra.

This incredible hilltop “palace city” took on most of the form we see today in the 13th and 14th centuries.

It consists of several separate zones: a defensive zone called the Alcazaba, a residential and state zone made up of the incredible Nasrid Palaces, and a pleasure palace, garden and orchards called the Generalife, built on the other side of a deep ravine.

A lot of the architecture, design detail and intricate plaster work is quite similar to what you’ll find in the Alcazar in Seville. It’s the setting that makes the Alhambra so incredible. Built on the crown of a small plateau on the southeastern edge of the city, it has vast cartographic views of Granada and the surrounding countryside.

The Alhambra truly is a microcosm, a world of its own behind high stone walls. As I wandered among its trees, flowers, plants and fountains, I could almost forget the tourists and groups, and picture myself a Nasrid sultan.

Now if I could only remember where I left my harem…

Views of Granada from the hilltop palace city of the Alhambra...

Views of Granada from the hilltop palace city of the Alhambra…

Plasterwork designs drip like stalactites from every wall and ceiling of the Nasrid Palace...

Plasterwork designs drip like stalactites from every wall and ceiling of the Nasrid Palace…

The Court of the Lions forms the tranquil gurgling centre of the Nasrid Palace complex...

The Court of the Lions forms the tranquil gurgling centre of the Nasrid Palace complex…

Every surface of the Nasrid Palace is graced with swirls and leaves and geometric patterns...

Every surface of the Nasrid Palace is graced with swirls and leaves and geometric patterns…

The Alhambra's steep hillside setting protected its inhabitants from unwanted visitors, cold callers and door-to-door religion peddlers...

The Alhambra’s steep hillside setting protected its inhabitants from unwanted visitors, cold callers and door-to-door religion peddlers…

Arabesques grace a window offering gentle hillside views...

Arabesques grace a window offering gentle hillside views…

The Alhambra is a peaceful place, protected by birdsong...

The Alhambra is a peaceful place, protected by birdsong…

The tall defensive towers of the Alhambra's Alcazaba dominate the surrounding plains...

The tall defensive towers of the Alhambra’s Alcazaba dominate the surrounding plains…

Thinking deep circular thoughts in the Palacio Carlos V...

Thinking deep circular thoughts in the Palacio Carlos V…

The spouting fountains of the Generalife sooth the rattled nerves of men and make women want to pee...

The spouting fountains of the Generalife sooth the rattled nerves of men and make women want to pee…

Surely I could do this guy's job without even breaking a sweat...

Surely I could do this guy’s job without even breaking a sweat…

At least they'd stick to my route... "I SAID follow me...."

At least they’d stick to my route… “I SAID follow me….”

 

Photos ©Tomoko Goto 2013

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Comments

  1. My best experience in Europe, many many years ago, was in Spain, in particular, Andalucia.
    Your photos brought back memories. Amazing to stand in a place that’s been in existence for hundreds of years and to imagine what the life in Alhambra was like.

    What stood out to me were the people of that region. Exceptionally warm and receiving. Also beautiful as you see the Arab blood influence in some faces. Have often wondered if my own ancestors in Mexico carry Arab genes through the conquest by Spain.

    Very cool to read the history of Andalucia, even the word has a poetic sound.
    Thanks for the post and pics.

    • Ryan Murdock says

      Thanks Esmeralda, glad you enjoyed it. I love Spain, seriously considering making it my next base for a few years. The people are kind, the wine is excellent, there’s a great variety of food and landscapes, history and cultural experiences. It seems to have everything a traveler or resident could ever desire.

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