Granada - Spain

March 15, 2018

The compact and walkable Granada is a fine example of Spain's Moorish and Christian history.

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Plaza San Nicolás

Cross the Albaicin to reach San Nicolás Square to have views of the Alhambra and the Generalife.

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The Alhambra

This sprawling hilltop fortress complex encompasses royal palaces, serene patios, and reflecting pools from the Nasrid dynasty, as well as the fountains and orchards of the Generalife gardens.

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The Alhambra - North

El Albaicín is the old Moorish quarter of the city.

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The Alhambra - South

But little remains from the 8 centuries of Moorish occupation.

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On your descent, you can reach Plaza Larga passing through the Puerta de las Pesas - the Gate of the Weights.

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Puerta de las Pesas - The Gate of the Weights - XI-XII Centuries

When the king's inspectors detected merchants using scales with rigged weights, these weights were hung on spikes on the wall of the gate.

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Built in 1576, Plaza Larga became an important neuralgic point after the Muslim-Christian wars came to an end.

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Plaza Larga

Plaza Larga is linked to the market which for centuries has been held in the square (now on Saturday mornings only).

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Plaza Larga - Square

You might hear of the Albaicin referred to as the Open Air Museum of Granada, and indeed it's a fair description.

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As it provides with a chance to walk through the colorful history of the city.

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The Albaicin was declared a World Heritage Site in 1984.

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A busy little street is the Calle de la Calderería Nueva, the Street of the New Cauldron Factory. Sometimes called "Little Morocco" it is known for its Moorish tea houses and crafts stores.  

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Store at the Calle de la Calderería Nueva

Puerta de Elvira, also known as Arco de Elvira, was the main access gate to the city of Granada during the Islamic domination.  

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Puerta de Elvira - Gate of Elvira

The gate was built in the 11th century by the Zirid sultans.

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Granada remained a largely medieval-style city well into the 19th century. 

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The city went through many economic slumps and have much of its architectural heritage destroyed.

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The last half of the 19th century saw Granada incorporated into the national rail network and the first stirrings of tourism thanks to reports of sites like the Alhambra.

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Ensalada con queso de cabra - Salate with Goat Cheese

The Alhambra Complex

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Generalife - Court of the Main Canal

Generalife is the finest set of Moorish style gardens in Andalucia, situated on a hill at the rear of the complex overlooking the Alhambra palace.

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Alcazaba was a massive fortress perched atop the crest of the hill overlooking the city.

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Alcazaba

Within the fort's walls are the ruins of a town which once held soldier's homes and baths, today only the outline of these rooms remain.

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Alcazaba

El Patio de Lindaraja (The Court of the Lindaraja) owes its name to the prominent open-air observation point on the southern side of the Palace of the Lions.

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Patio de Lindaraja

Made of stone from the Elvira Mountains, the base, ridge, and pilaster of the fountain are Baroque.

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Patio de Lindaraja

The Lindaraja Balcony is one of the loveliest designs to behold in the Alhambra palaces.

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Lindaraja Balcony

The interior walls of the balcony are representative of the decorative proportionality favored by the Nasrid architects.

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Observation Point of Daraxa

The Palace of the Lions was the architectural pinnacle of the Alhambra.

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The Palace of the Lions

Its celebrated fountain was a symbol of its decorative richness and an example of the complex water system.

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The Palace of the Lions

The Court of the Myrtles (Patio de los Arrayanes) has received different names throughout time.

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Its current name is due to the myrtle bushes that surround the central pond and the bright green color of which contrasts with the white marble of the patio.

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Patio de los Arrayanes - Court of the Myrtles

There are chambers on both sides of the patio and several porticoes on the shorter sides of it.

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Around the Court of the Myrtles

These porticoes rest on columns with cubic capitals, which have seven semicircular arches decorated with fretwork rhombuses and inscriptions praising God.

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Around the Court of the Myrtles

The central arch is greater than the other six and has solid scallops decorated with stylised vegetal forms and capitals of mocarabes.

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Around the Court of the Myrtles

On the ends of the southern gallery are larders with kitchen shelves of mocarabes and the following legend: "May our Master Abu Abd' Allah, the emir of the Muslims, receive God's help and protection as well as a glorious victory".

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Most inscriptions that appear in this patio are praises to God or to the emir.

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The chambers that existed in this portico were partly demolished in order to build the Charles V Palace (Palacio de Carlos V)

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The Hall of the Muqarnas

Mohammed ben Al-Hamar (Mohammed I) was the first king to move to the Alcazaba and no records about a new palace being built are kept until those of Abu l-Walid Ismail (fifth king of the dynasty).

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A palace was built near the Great Mosque (Gran Mezquita) but only the Mexuar is now left because Yusuf I destroyed it completely.

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Sample of Mocárabe - Honeycomb or Stalactite Work

Mocárabe, Honeycomb work, or Stalactite work (Arabic al-halimat al-'uliya, "the overhang") is an ornamental design used in certain types of Islamic architecture that spread throughout the Islamic world in the 12th century.

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Sample of Mocárabe - Honeycomb or Stalactite Work

The design consists of a complex array of vertical prisms resembling stalactites.

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Some inscriptions are beautiful poetry whereas others provide information on construction dates within the Alhambra.

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The placing of tiles calculated with mathematic precision is pleasing to the onlooker. Mathematics was used in the designs of tile patterns.

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There are more than 10,000 inscriptions along these historic walls.

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Only a few can decipher the classical Arabic inscriptions adorning the place. In 2009, an interactive DVD was released showing the meaning of the carvings.

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Hall of the Ambassadors

The Salón de los Embajadores (Hall of the Ambassadors) is the largest room in the Alhambra.

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Hall of the Boat

Hall of the Boat (Sala de la Barca) comes from the Arabic word baraka, which means blessing and which degenerated into the Spanish word barca, which means boat.

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On the walls you will see plasterwork with the Nasrid coat of arms and, inside it, the word "Blessing" and the dynasty's motto "Only God is Victor"

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The Patio of the Gilded Room connects the Mexuar and the Gilded Room (Cuarto Dorado).

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Patio of the Gilded Room (Southern Wall)

The southern wall of this patio is decorated with ornaments and inscriptions, including the motto "Only God is Victor".

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Entering the Gilden Room (Cuarto Dorado)

The Gilded Room (Cuarto Dorado) gets its name because of the painted Mudejar style of its coffered ceiling.

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Cuarto Dorado - Gilden Room

The façade of the Cuarto Dorado has impressive decoration. The walls are golden in a delicate filigree pattern.

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Cuarto Dorado - Golden Room