Wednesday, 26 March 2014

26th March

Today is Alhambra day – very exciting for me as have wanted to visit this for years and my dream will finally come true.  Hanna had visited before, but a long time ago, but warned us that we might be disappointed as we’d seen so many fantastic Islamic buildings in Morocco.

Court of the Lions
Anyway, after a light breakfast we set off walking up the hill towards the Alhambra.  Our hotel had told us that the walk should take about 20 minutes, which was pretty accurate.  I’d pre-booked tickets so all we had to do was to put the credit card that I’d bought them with into the machine and it spat them out on the floor very quickly.

View from Alcazabha
Our entry time for the Nasrid Palaces was 11am and we were told that we had to be there on time as hey were very strict about it.  As the time was 10.30am at this stage, we had plenty of time to saunter along the edge of the plateau admiring the gardens and various buildings along the way.  We found the queue for the Nasrid Palaces and were duly admitted.  It was quite crowded (impossible to get photos without people in them), but not so crowded that you couldn’t get to see and enjoy all the views and incredible Moorish architecture.  It was very similar to what we’d seen in Morocco, but still fantastic and we thoroughly enjoyed it.  We especially enjoyed the Court of the Myrtles and Court of the Lions, which both had traditional Moorish water features in them including rills which we just hadn’t seen anywhere else.

Interior courtyard of Charles V Palace
The Nasrid Palaces took an hour, which just flew by.  We then came back to the Palace of Charles V, which had a huge central round courtyard reminiscent of a bull ring.  It also housed two museums.  After that, we visited the Alcazaba, one of the oldest parts of the Alhambra and its military area.  There were several huge and imposing towers which we climbed for incredible views all around us – the old town below us on one side and the snow capped Sierra Nevada Mountains on the other.  Just stunning.
After that, we walked through the Partal area, which includes the portico of the Partal Palace, the gardens, which are very formal and have lots of clipped hedges and topiary, the Palace of Yusuf III and some ramparts with various towers.

Inspiring views of the Generalife
Out final stop was the GeneralLife which includes a Palace and beautiful gardens, which were used by the monarchs as a leisure area for relaxing.  Some of the gardens were being renovated with old clipped cypress trees that were past their prime being dug out and replaced.  The use of water in these gardens was just magical and was my absolute favourite spot of the whole complex.  Great long courtyards with buildings at either end were connected by covered walkways.  Within the courtyards were large pools in the centre with lovely fountains along the length of the pool and then gorgeous colourful flower beds either side. 

Alhambra in the setting sun - fabulous!!
We ended up spending 3.5 hours in the Alhambra and we all thought it fantastic.  We then walked back into the old town and had some tapas and a drink before going back to the hotel to shed some clothes as it had warmed up a bit.  Chris decided to take a break so Hanna and I wandered off to see the Cathedral, which was so large and enclosed by surrounding buildings, it was hard to get a good view of it.  All around were various squares full of tempting bars and cafes.  As the cathedral was shut due to a long lunch break, Hanna and I chose to visit the adjacent Royal Chapel instead as wanted to see where Ferdinand and Isabelle were buried – monarchs who both resonated with us and important as under their rule, Spain became united as one kingdom.  Apart from their marble effigy in the main chapel, we also visited the crypt where we could see their immense lead coffins.  We also saw Isabelle’s crown and sceptre and Ferdinand’s sword in the adjoining museum.

After that, we returned to the hotel and joined up again with Chris to enjoy the hotel’s free tea service which was very welcome.  Feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, we then decided to embark on the suggested walk around the old town.  This was wonderful and we got to see the Alhambra bathed in the evening sun from the St. Nicholas viewing point and very beautiful it looked too.  Our walk back town into the old town took us through a medina area very reminiscent of Morocco full of shops selling tempting wares.  Finally, we got back to the hotel and decided to chill out for an hour or so before going out to hunt for tapas and some beer/wine as most bars don’t open until 8pm.

We’ve been out and had a lot of fun in the crowded, friendly and noisy tapas bars.  Had a superb selection of tapas plus beers, wines and sherry!!   We have come back to our hotel feeling very mellow and content.  WE ALL LOVE GRANADA!!!!!!

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