Wednesday15th October – Alhambra didn’t disappoint. Not that I expected it to!

I googled words other than Amazing. Every time I said Amazing Marco in France would laugh and repeat in a silly drawn out lippy, girly voice. He said it reminded him of his trip to NZ. He was in a park in central Auckland and desperate to go to the loo, he asked a couple of women if they knew where the toilet was. That way, they pointed, but just before he could Jog off they asked what was his incredible accent. French he replied and every time he went to leave they asked him something else. Every comment he made they said ‘a m a z I n g’, and whenever he hears it, it reminds him of them. It’s definitely an overused word Marco and I’ve nearly deleted it from my vocab. You should see words like ‘incredible’, ‘stunning’, ‘thought provoking’ and marvellous in the future!

So….Alhambra was pretty much all of those, incredible, stunning, thought provoking and bloody marvellous! It’s old. First foundations date back to first century but majority 14th onwards. As different monarchs were ruling they might be taken with the area and build something new for themselves, their family, their beliefs, their church and so it grew up there on the hill looking more and more a city fortress over each century. Certainly formidable should you be thinking about attacking.

And as buildings changed hands and were repurposed it was up to the architect of the day how they restored or reused what they had there and some of course are gone or have only a few clues as to their story. The mix of Muslim and christian is interesting and sympathetic for the most part to both but it’s the Muslim decoration which is most beguiling.

Delicately carved marble, and water, water everywhere. This lion courtyard is typical of the symbolism of the times where Lions, who were regarded as representing strength and courage alongside water which represents life, gave the impression that these characteristics were there in the people. Water is collected further up in the hills, piped down and used in every way possible throughout the gardens. Giving cool reflections and gentle relaxation whether with trickling or gushing noises. It made its way sometimes unseen under clever paths or through intricate pipe work to keep gardens irrigated in Spain’s punishing hot summers too.

The greenery everywhere, with clever plantings gave shade and shelter, colour and food.
Everything was made MORE beautiful. A heavily carved door framed, metal work made delicate, and pathways like this one above with designs pulling you along.

And look up and something like this stops you in your tracks. Each piece of mosaic shaped to give a many faceted dome where sixteen windows allow light to enter all through the day giving a different feel to the room at any one time. Just one more photo?

When to stop looking and taking photos is the most difficult part of the day. We had tickets for 8.30 to 2pm. Brodie gave us some tips to get the best out of the day which was a help because the site is massive and you would need several visits to appreciate it all I’m sure. I would love to have visited it at night as well as day but, maybe another time?

To top of a great day we ran into Hao again and her partner Bo, a lovely Canadian couple who were waiting to go in for the afternoon session. We chatted about traveling and they hadn’t had such a good time in Morocco, so good to get tips from them as we will be there before we know it. Canadians are such neat people and seem to be in a similar mindset as Kiwis. I hope we see them in NZ someday soon. My next post will be a little about what we chatted about so watch this space!

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