07 October 2008

Woollie - Granada

After the walking holiday was over I headed to Granada on my own for a couple of days - I really wanted to visit the Alhambra Palaces and see the Moorish architecture. I chose a hotel in the city centre, Hotel Puerta de las Granadas, which was just perfect for a solo traveller - it was close to everything, had free internet access, small but well presented rooms and best of all a small courtyard where you could sit peacefully, taking a break from the hubub going on outside. The hotel were even happy for you to bring your own food and drinks there so it was a great place to take a break from the sight-seeing and the 33/90 degree temperatures.

Granada itself is an amazing city, so much of it designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites , full of history and colour. I spent my 2 days walking and walking - visiting the cathedral and the Capella Real, the Alhambra Palace, the Albayzin, the Banos Arabes etc. 

First stop was the cathedral and the Capilla Real - work began on the cathedral in 1536 and they really are more about Christian truimph (0ver the Moors) and royal ego (Isabella and Fernando stamping their royal authority on the city) than spirituality - the architecture gothic in nature and the decoration quite grotesque in it's intricacy......in the Capella Real the sarcophogi of Queen Isabella and King Fernando on display, Isabel's pillow slightly more compressed than Fernando's, supposedly displaying her greater intellect....



On the first evening I walked up through the Albayzin to Plaza San Nicolas to get a view over the Alhambra (the red one) as the sunsets - watching the colour of the walls glow red as the sun strikes at differing angles....the Albayzin itself is an amazing place, maintaining the narrow, winding streets of its Moorish past.  I returned to the Albayzin the next morning, often alone wandering the narrow streets, many of them being redeveloped, looking through gates to the gardens beyond, the flowers tumbling over walls, Moorish architecture and monasteries, the Arab teashops gently encouraging you in to sip mint tea and nibble honeyed sweets...... the Banos Arabes - 11th century Moorish baths, with their star-lit ceilings, the best preserved Moorish baths in Spain.....




On the afternoon of day 2 I had my ticket to visit the Alhambra, there are only 8000 tickets per day and entrance to the most special part, the Nasrid Palaces, you must enter in an allocated 30 minute period. The palaces are the best preserved Moorish palaces in the world, their intricate carvings, distinctive architectural features, reflection ponds and use of water and views over the Albayzin make for a memorable visit. The gardens of the Generalife are equally as stunning, where the Moorish leaders would escape to in the summer and relax.

It really was a magical place to spend a couple of days. I managed to survive 3 days travelling alone and feel quite proud that I did it! I mean I have travelled alone frequently before but usually to stay with friends so there is normally someone to speak to at the end of a day....



Next installment - Switzerland!!

3 comments:

amy said...

what a dream those courtyards are...

Bethany Hissong said...

I love the reflecting pools! I think I need one of those in my yard!! Your photos are just beautiful, as usual. Maybe you should get a job as a tv travel guide! You could just go all over the place and have the network pay for it all! I'd watch you! ;)

Karen S said...

Those are stunning pictures!!! I'm more than a bit envious ;) I've always wanted to see alhambra... and I'm certain I will at some point, but your wonderful pictures makes the longing stronger!
I'd watch you as a tv-travel-guide too ;)