Friday, December 02, 2005

Impressive Granada

So to continue the story from where we left off yesterday, we got up early on Thursday and had a quick breakfast at a little cafe across the road in the Plaza Nueva, which is the main square in the middle of the old town. Chris immediately found the tourist office and by their suggestion, caught the next bus up to the Alhambra. Apparently it gets a lot busier in the afternoon.

The Alhambra is an ancient town built on top of a mountain just above where we are staying ans is spectacular. We started with the Palazio Nazarios which was built by Mohammed I when the muslims were in power, so is mostly done in islamic architecture and decorations (except the parts that were re-done later). The walls were decorated with intricate designs made of plaster, wood and ceramic mosaics and were absolutely incredible. All the archways were decorated with stalactite-like plaster. Each window framed a spectacular view of the old town or the Sierra Nevada Mountains. After leaving the Palace, we headed to the Alcazaba, which was the military part of the Alhambra with many towers for defense, and which also housed people. Underneath the fortifications, they had three things: the water system, grain storage, and dungeons. Much of what´s left is in ruins, but you can still see a lot of what used to be there. Even though the area was built by the muslims originally, it was overtaken by the Catholics (Ferdinand and Isabella) when they took over the land, so a lot of the time it gets confusing whether you are looking at the old parts or something built by them. After the Alcazaba, we went to the Generalife, a.k.a the summer palace and botanical gardens. The summer palace appeared to be a completely outdoor builing and the gardens, despite not being in season were still very beautiful. Water was very important in their society and religion, so there were beautiful fountains and pools throughout.

After a long morning at the Alhambra, we were pretty pooped, so we had nice meal and then a pretty relaxing afternoon and evening.

Today was another early start. Even though it´s been raining, it is quite a bit warmer than yesterday (when there was ice on the puddles) so not too bad. We started our day walking through the old city where we found the archeological museum, which is housed in an old villa and was georgeous. We didn´t understand much of the explanations, since it was all in spanish, but we enjoyed seeing all the artifacts (especially Chris and the Neanderthals since they have so much in common). The old, muslim, part of town is full of small streets and alleys. We couldn´t believe the size of the buses fitting through streets that looked to us to be just for walking. The views of the Alhambra from underneath were incredible.

We chose to do a shorter tour of the area than we could have because of the rain, and then made our way to the cathedral and Capilla Real. The Capilla Real is where the king and queen of Spain (Ferdinand and Isabella) are buried. The decorum was amazing with extremely intricate ironwork, gold alters, a marble cenotaphs of the people buried there (and their bodies underneath in lead caskets). An impressive place, but not being catholic made it all a little creepy. After that, we chose not to go to the cathedral, grabbed some lunch and are now having a relaxing afternoon of internet, laundry and shopping.

Talk to you soon!
Norah and mostly Kaila


Blogger Tim said...

That description of the palace and mausoleum reminded me of the ones we saw in El escorial. Those Spanish Chatholics are all the same, eh? Sounds like a great trip. I can't say I'm not jealous.

7:11 PM  
Blogger LynchHartsinOz said...

Norah, Chris and Kaila, Sounds wonderful! chris I hope you will take some shots of you guys in some of these amazing places. Tim and kaila I didn't know you had been in El Escorail. I was there 4 years ago for a conference and we stayed in a converted monastary, the Basilica and Mausoleum as well as the classic cobblestone town tucked under the trees were wonderful. It was amazing to me how cool the stone streets and walls under the shade of the trees could keep it so cool even in the tremendous heat of the Spanish summer. I wish I was with you, I would definitely be on the search for the perfect Sangria! I will print the blogs off and share with Gordon and Katie, they are coming for dinner and we are going to hear the Rankin sisters at the Cohn. Love Mary

12:06 PM  

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