Morros and Me
Trip Start Sep 07, 2005
124Trip End Aug 18, 2006
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After a "small" nap, we ventured out into Granada to explore on foot. The last bastion of Moorish dominance in Spain, Granada was firmly Muslim until 1492, when King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella (the same infamous couple that financed Columbus' voyage across the ocean blue the same year) ran them out and into Africa. Granada is a mixture now of new modern suburbs, an old European center clustered around the main Cathedral, and an even older whitewashed Andalusian Muslim quarter, the centerpiece of which is the Alhambra, a military citadel cum pleasure palace for the ruling sultan - and later for Charles V, after the Moors were kicked out
We opted for a walking tour of the Alhambra courtesy of one audiophone guide, and we were pleased to find that we could plug our headphones into the guide and thus both listen to the running commentary. The Alhambra was originally a fortress perched high on a hill overlooking present day Granada, and a small town grew up within the fortress walls to supply provisions to the soldiers there. Later, a succession of sultans identified the location as an ideal place for a palace, and each added on to the complex and adjoining gardens. We suspect there was something of a keeping up with the Jones (or in this case Bin Talishis) afoot in the construction of each new palace addition because from what we could tell, the newer structures seemed to out-do thier predicesors in thier grandure and architectural elegance.
The focal point of our visit centered around the Nazarine Palace, the most opulent and sumptuous of the rooms at the Alhambra. A very modest portico led to a receiving room where the sultan held audiences and occasionally prayed, The room was decorated in elaborate green, yellow and blue tilework in endless geometrically repeating patterns and butressed with heavy cedar planks. Off to the side of the room, a small oratory chamber, decorated entirely in elaborate white plastering, gazed out on the city
After the Moors were run out, Charles the V of the Holy Roman Empire visited Granada on his honeymoon, became enamoured of the place, and, regrettably, decided to add on to the existing palace in his own decidedly European sensibilities
We moved on to the Generalife, or the Palace Gardens, a large complex of delicately manicured plant life centered around fountains and still pools. The gardens - at least in the growing season - contain jasmine, mertle, cedar, boxwood, cirtus and olive trees, and other plants endemic to the area, and they surround a smaller, more liveable palace, in which the sultan could live more simply when he chose. It is, undoubtedly, good to be the sultan, but our quick conclusion after strolling around the gardens was that it is even better to be the sultan when the weather is cooperative. By the time our friendly audio tour guide told us that it was time to return our head-set, we were quite chilly. We wandered down the hill back into the city and decided to find a place to get warm
The Alhambra was a wonderful jumping off place for our upcoming adventure for, just as the Moors did five centuries earlier, we planned to depart Spain and head south across the Straight of Gibralter to Morocco. Regrettably, we could not stay in Spain longer; we couldn't handle European pricing - it almost broke the bank, and we did witout food for increasingly long stretches. But, happily, we also had somewhere we needed to be, as we were slated to meet Steve's mom, Leo, in Casablanca on the 10th. So, with just a short foray into the region but with plans to return, we big adieu to Granada the next day, headed south round the rock of GIbralter, and boarded a ferry at Algiceras, Spain heading for Tangier, Morocco.