Today we spent most of the day in Granada and it was wonderful. First of all a little history.
Granada was a special place to King Fernanda and Queen Isabel because Granada was the last stronghold of the Arab's in 1492. Once their army defeated them and "kicked the out" Spain as we know it now was born. So the king and queen felt a special love for the city/region of Granada, are actually buried in Granada.
Anyhow let me start at the beginning.
Granada is a natural fortification, on a hill, near some mountains, (Sierra Nevada's), and a river what more could a early AD invader want/need. The Arab's ruled the region beginning around 700AD until they lost it to Spain in 1492. At the highest point the first sultan began building the city.
Arab palaces contain three main area's, the court of justice, the political buildings, and the harem area. Each area served a specific purpose. The court of justice was just like our courtrooms serving out justice of course in this case the sultan/king was the judge so you'd better stay on his good side; while the political area was used to meet other VIPs and the sultan's advisers.
Finally, the harem was the living quarters for the sultan's wives (he could have up to four) and his concubines (he could have as many concubines as he wanted). Not every time a new sultan came into power a new "palace" was built at the Alhambra, so today it is huge. Even King Fernanda added his own touch by building a royal palace at the Alhambra when he and Queen Isabella unified Spain. Among the palace's there are beautiful gardens for the royalty to enjoy and a Medina, or the actual town where the palace servants, tradesmen, and craftsmen lived and worked.
There were over 2000 people living at Alhambra during its prime years and was a city totally independent of everything else; it had its own baths, schools, mosque/cathedral, police etc. The walls surrounding the Alhambra are 45ft high in some places and extend over two miles around the entire area. The mosaic's and plaster work was absolutely gorgegus.
We toured the Spanish Royal palace as well as the most notable sultan palace. As you look at the pictures some people think the Alhambra is not a big deal from the outside, but that is Muslim tradition to appear poor on the outside so as not to show off a persons wealth, however, on the
inside as the mosaic's, plaster work, fountains, and gardens show Muslims spared no expense. The images the Muslims include in their tiles never include self images or animals only geometric designs, nature/flowers, and calligraphy. The Court of Lions fountain was given as a gift to the Muslims by the Jewish people which is why it has lions around it.
Granada is a town where all the people were unified and tolerance of others beliefs is expected. When Napoleon invaded Spain in 1802 his army lived at the Alhambra and when they were kicked out ten years later destroyed parts of it The weather was beautiful and I enjoyed seeing the Alhambra a lot. One other detail about the Alhambra, the author,
Washington Irving wrote a book about it after he paid it a visit in the early 1800's. For those of you who don't remember Washington Irving also wrote the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow", without his writing about Alhambra more damage may have been done to the sight but because of the attention he brought to the area he is honored with a plaque in the Alhambra and it was saved from further destruction.
After we left the Alhambra we headed into the Old Town of Granada. Still today there are four distinct districts in the Old Town, Jewish, Muslim, Gypsy, and Christian.
We visited the Muslim and Gypsy quarters last evening before the Flamenco show and today we were able to explore the Christian and if we wanted to the Jewish quarter. As I said above Granada is a city of tolerance so all four districts interact with each other and our tolerant of others beliefs.
We had our lunch in Old Town Granada shopped a little and then continued our drive south where we eventually ran into the Mediterranean Sea.
A couple of interesting tidbits I want to pass on, at one time Spain was a world power and it is said the sun never set on its empire that is because they controlled land from the Philippines to Spain to Puerto Rico to Cuba. After the Spanish American War the United States gained the Philippines and Puerto Rico and Cuba too while Spain's run as a world power came to an end.
Spain grows white asparagus. What is white asparagus you may be asking well our guide tells us it is basically green asparagus except it is covered which makes the white color. I also believe it is not a strong as green asparagus. Yes, mom, I did try it since it wasn't green and it wasn't that bad.
A kind of funny story I heard was about St. Lawrence. St. Lawrence is the patron saint of cooks, why, because he was roasted alive. True story.
Another interesting fact about the royal family is only the child who will inherit the crown is called prince or princess any other children of the king and queen are referred to as infants. They are still considered royal but are not referred to that way was Prince Harry is in England.
Ok time to go to dinner so until tomorrow,