September 08, 2013

The Alhambra

Quite possibly the premiere tourist attraction in Spain, the Alhambra is a millennium old citadel perched on the hills of Granada. Dramatically layered in between the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and the city of Granada, it is sometimes hard to distinguish a photo of the Alhambra from a painting.

Built in the 9th century as a fort and later converted into a a royal palace by the Sultan of Granada, the complex was crafted according to Arab-Islamic architectural styles. Beautiful Arabesque decorations are inscribed on the walls of the palace, similar to those found etched on the Taj Mahal and other Mughal masterpieces in India.

The Muslim rulers tried to recreate paradise on Earth, with Moorish poets describing the Alhambra as a "pearl set in emeralds". Forests, gardens, mountains, and streams sublimely coexist with the man made structure. My princely figure blended in seamlessly with the environs. When Christians came to power in the Andalusian region of Spain, the fort was augmented with more European style buildings. These take a back seat to the impressive Islamic stylistic elements that dominate the design of the Alhambra grounds.

Heavily damaged over the centuries by man and nature alike, the Alhambra has been restored in modern times. After an uphill climb through the Alhambra Park at dawn, I entered the main square through the Gate of Judgment. Only a limited number of visitors are allowed in each day, with a specific time printed on the ticket specifying when the royal palace can be entered. The extensive Generalife gardens can be enjoyed at leisure afterwards.


Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you traveled. ~ Mohammed