October 15, 2018 Granada SP

Today was a day we really looked forward to when we headed to Spain.  The Alhambra is one of the biggest attractions in Spain, and getting here threw our plans off a bit when we realized there were only tickets available one day this month.

We were both pretty excited so we woke a little earlier than we needed to.  Since we were up we decided to head into town.  We grabbed the bus to the cathedral, and from there transferred to a mini-bus that goes to the Alhambra.  The bus system in Granada is really exceptional.

When we arrived at the Cathedral we took some time to explore the area.  In addition to the Cathedral which was another beautiful building that was different in that only one of the walls was exposed, there was also a restored market from the Arab era.  During the Arab era it was a silk market, and has been serving as a market since then.  There was a large fire that destroyed much of it in the 1840’s, it has been rebuilt but remains the same character.

The old Arab silk market in Granada, now devoted to tourist stuff.

We were not quite sure how things worked when we arrived we knew we had a time for a tour of the Nasrid Palace so we assumed that we could not get access to the grounds until 1pm.  But it turns out your ticket gets you on the grounds all day, the only space that is controlled is the Nasrid Palace.  So we were glad we arrived a couple hours before hand.  

We used the early time to explore the gardens of the palace which are extensive and really beautiful.  Ton was thrilled with all of the plants and flowers, as well as the views from the gardens.  It was a nice introduction to the place, and we began to sense it was quite special.

There were quite a few feral cats in the gardens.

By the time we poked around in the gardens for a while it was time to head down to the Palace for our tour.  The palace lived up to its billing and I see why it is one of the most visited places in Spain.  In the last few years they have had to limit the number of visitors to 8300 per day, and almost every day of the year sells out.  The palace is a work of art with incredible tile, plaster, and wooden walls.  The calligraphy and the art work in the plaster is beautiful, the wood carvings in the ceilings and doors are masterful.  The town must have been an interesting place as the number of high quality artisans and artists here must have made for some wild characters.  The flow from room to courtyards with beautiful fountains is a joy to behold.

The detail of the ceramic walls is really great.
A reflecting pool leading into the throne room.
Windows with inscriptions from the Koran below them. 
Each of these Lions is unique, and three different groups of artist were commisioned to do them when the fountain was built to add to the variety.
It is rare for human figures to be shown in Islamic Art, this is one of only three examples in the palace.  Apparently it is a story about a Christian Knight and a Moslem Knight competing for the same woman, the Moslem Knight won the girl.

We were among the last from our group to leave as around every turn was a wow moment for us.  Our next stop was the fort which was impressive but had an impossible act to follow.  The view of the city from the top of the watch tower though was worth the climb.

View of the town from the palace.
This tile was among a set imbedded in a stair case.  We are not sure if it is original or a replica.

We finished with a tour of another building which was a smaller version of the palace, it was the pleasure palace of the sultan.  It was a great way to wrap up the day.

A fountain from the pleasure palace.

The final thrill for us was the bus ride back into town.  We boarded the same bus 32 we had rode down on.  But going back we took back roads and alleys  that were incredibly narrow.  The mini-bus is a 24 ft Sprinter Van.  On multiple occasions we had maybe an inch or two of clearance on both sides of the bus, and some of the turns were incredibly tight.  Thru out the drive the bus driver kept up a spirited conversation with one of the passengers.  These guys are good.

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