Sunday, May 17, 2009

Granada, Spain

I had decided to visit the southern region of Spain known as Andalucia because of its Moorish past. Being a huge architecture fan, I knew that gorgeous Islamic tiles, arches and carvings would be present in cities across Andalucia. Nowhere is this more apparent that in Granada’s La Alhambra, perhaps the most magnificent building in Spain. Not having bought a ticket in advance and mindful of its popularity, I decided to start queing one hour before the ticket office opens in the hopes of visiting this temple of architecture. Nothing was going to stop me from entering the palace I had always dreamed of visiting ever since I first saw it in a high school geometry textbook!

I ended up sleeping in for one hour and thus did not get to the ticket office until 8:45am (office opens at 8am) and thus was panicking that I wouldn't be able to get a ticket. Luckily, I got one for the afternoon session.

The morning was spent wandering around the Moorish district of Albaicin. The white buildings with brown roofs and inner courtyards are all typical of what is found in Morocco. There was just a few examples of tilework but overall, the architecture was not colorful. The highlight of visiting Albaicin is the excellent views of the Alhambra from its upper reaches.

I spent 4 hours in the Alhambra and still felt like that wasn't enough! The Alhambra consists of the Generalife gardens, the Alcazaba (fortress), the Nazirid Palace (main one) and the Palace of Carlos V. The first 3 each provided a different type of highlight.

The Generalife garden contains a myriad of flowers in all shades and colors. This, coupled with fountains and trees, produced a very relaxing ambience. The Alcazaba, on the other hand, is known for the views of Albaicin and rest of Granda from its two towers. Lastly, perhaps the ultimate highlight is a visit to the Nazirid Palace, home of the sultans back in the day. There, intricate carvings, graceful arches, pristine courtyards abound. Words cannot describe the details of the carvings. The Alhambra, with its unique architecture and peaceful gardens is probably the most amazing building in the world!

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