Erasmus Memories: Granada, a clash of cultures and the Alhambra (2012)

The Alhambra

Next to Zaragoza, the next trip was scheduled to Granada. Granada is located in the southern Andalucia region of Spain, in the foothills of the famous Sierra Nevada. Granada for me was my first real experience with Arab architecture and culture without being in an Arabic country. Granada is where the classic European lines clash against the sensual, delicate and intricate lines of the Moorish architecture.

We stayed one night there (if I remember correctly!) but our first day was tainted with very gloomy weather. It kept raining, it was warm but humid. Very typical of Andalucia, but not my favourite weather at all. Especially to take decent photographs. I confess at the time I did not have many expectations in regards to Granada, but I would remember this place forever – the city that made me fall in love with Moorish architecture and with the art and expression of Flamenco.

I loved the Arab owned shops, the smell of spices in the air, the little tea rooms. I loved how all of these ingredients together made Granada so Spanish. Because to me, Spain represented precisely a juxtaposition of so many different cultures, ways of being and behaving, all in celebration of the simple joy of life.

Most visitors are drawn to Granada by the Alhambra, a fortified palace in Moorish architecture, whose name comes from the Arabic al-qala’a al-hamra (the Red Castle). The origins of such beautiful attractions are involved in mystery, which makes it even more interesting. the first reference to its construction comes from the 9th century, but some say the building may have been standing since Roman times.

When we visit it today, we are looking at the appearance it has held since the 13th to 14th centuries, with Granada’s Nasrid rulers (the last Muslim dynasty in the Iberian Peninsula) transforming it into a fortified castle complex. In 1492, the year of the Reconquista (the Christian reconquest of the country that had been invaded by the Muslims), the mosque was replaced by Church. Unfortunately, further modifications were implemented, as other rulers couldn’t stop feeling offended with certain parts of the palace, demolishing it and transforming it to its own times and tastes. Still, it is the Moorish Architecture that prevails, and that is what attracts people from around the world.

The complex is gigantic. We were unlucky with the weather, as you’ll be able to note from most of my photos. It kept raining incessantly and we could not enjoy the beautiful gardens surrounding it. Still, I was so impressed by the intricate work, that it didn’t even matter. I was there to be a witness of brilliant Moorish work. I could be dry any other time of the year.

This is all from me today – there will be more tomorrow 🙂

I am fascinated by the repeated pattern work in stone, the Moorish arch design. Such beautiful, breathtaking art!

Check my other Erasmus posts here.

Love, Nic

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