Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Our Lifestyle Adventures: 3 Must-Sees in the Former Moorish Capital of Spain

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Our Lifestyle Adventures: 3 Must-Sees in the Former Moorish Capital of Spain

the Alhambra in Granada, Spain
By the end of four days in Malaga, we had already done three-day trips, and we had two more to go. My two granddaughters decided to skip the trip to Granada and frolic in the beaches of Costa del Sol once more instead. But Bill and I could not miss it. Ever since a friend showed me his pictures of the Alhambra and Generalife, Granada has been a must-see for us.
olive groves
agricultural fields
We took a packed early tour bus to the capital of the province of Granada, a city located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains at the confluence of four rivers. Its population is around a quarter of a million; the entire urban area, about half. The trip took us through vast agricultural fields and many hillside olive groves (Spain is the world’s largest producer of olive oil, not Italy).

more of the beautiful countryside
at the entrance to the Alhambra
In 711 AD, the Umayyad conquest of Hispania brought large parts of the Iberian Peninsula under Moorish control. In 1228, the Nasrids, the longest lasting Muslim dynasty in Spanish history was established. The wealth of Granada is its Spanish-Muslim art — in particular, the compound of the Alhambra and the Generalife, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1984.
reflecting pools
stalactite ceilings
The Alhambra is a palace/fortress complex undertaken in the 13th and 14th centuries by the Nasrids. In 1527, the Palace of Charles V was inserted, and other alterations were made. It was then allowed to fall into disrepair for centuries and to be occupied by squatters. Alhambra was rediscovered in the 19th century by European scholars and travelers and restorations began. The theme of “paradise on earth” was repeated in fountains with running water, reflecting pools, fancy courtyards, even the dense wood of elms. It is now one of the most visited monuments in Spain. We marveled at the Mudejar style and its details: stalactite ceilings, arabesques, horseshoe and stilted arches, combinations of sebkha and palm, and calligraphy.  
part of the gardens
The Generalife is the summer pleasure palace and country estate of the Nasrids, remarkable both for its location and layout, as well as for the diversity of its flowers, plants and fountains. It occupies the slopes of the hill Cerro del Sol and are visible from vantage points throughout the city. The main features are the Patio de la Acequia (Water-Garden Courtyard) and the Jardín de la Sultana (Sultana's Garden). The Generalife is one of the oldest surviving Moorish gardens of the world.

flowing fountains
      the Basilica in Granada
After the tour, we were taken to the center of the city for some free time. We had late lunch at a crowded Spanish restaurant located inside the big island park at the center of town. After our delectable Spanish meal, we walked to the Basilica de Senora de las Angustias. The Basilica opens to a wide, tree-lined, beautifully-tiled walk. On one end stands a huge fountain. On each side are one-lane streets fronted by colorful buildings.

The fall of Granada is a significant event that marked the latter half of the Spanish 16th century. It completed the Christian Reconquest of the eight-hundred-year-long Islamic rule in Spain. After getting rid of the major internal territorial conflict, Spain embarked on a remarkable phase with conquests that created the vast Spanish Empire, which for a time was the largest in the world. This period included the discovery of the Philippines and the Spanish colonization of the Americas.

wide walk
It was totally understandable my granddaughters did not want to join us in this mainly historical and architectural day trip! But, for Bill and me, it was a highlight of our Spanish exploration.

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