The Alhambra is a supremely beautiful mediaeval Arab palace; yet, ironically, it was founded (in the 13th century) as the power of the Moors was declining. It is set on a hill above the city, and although the landscape around it is sandy and arid, the citadel itself is surrounded by woods and gardens; you are never far from a fountain. The gardens are irrigated by water from the Sierra Nevada, carried by a series of cunningly contrived channels: in my previous post, I wrote about how cleverly the meltwater from the mountains is conserved and distributed, and that the foundation of the system was laid by the Moors, and perhaps even before them by the Romans.
We were only able to be there for a few hours. It wasn't nearly long enough to take in all that there was to see, and I hope one day I'll go back. The Nasrid Palace, which is the jewel in the crown of the Alhambra, is a curious combination of simplicity and extreme complexity: the rooms have no furniture, so there is nothing to stop one's gaze being drawn to the meticulous, intricate, exuberant patterning on every surface.
I know really nothing about the origins of the patterns, the history of the decoration. So I'm just going to put up some pictures, so that you can take a virtual tour, and think, not only about the long-ago kings who commanded the building of the palace, but about all the craftsmen who must have laboured so long and with such care to create it.
|The Ambassadors' Hall|
|The Court of the Myrtles|
|The Lions' Court|
|A view over Granada from the Alhambra|