Andalucia Take 2 – Granada!
Where did I leave off? Oh, right! So we leave Córdoba and get on the bus to Granada. By this point, it’s night time and we’re all tired so we got to the hotel, ate the hotel dinner and went to sleep. But when we woke up….we had breakfast. And then started our day! Granada is Paco’s, our professor, favorite city so he was so excited to show us one of the coolest sites we’ve seen to date: La Alhambra.
La Alhambra is a Muslim city-palace that was built during the time of the Reconquest. Granada was the last territory of the Muslim influence that was reconquered by the Catholic Kings, Ferdinand and Isabel, in 1492. So essentially, La Alhambra was a fortress that the Muslims built to keep the Christians out. The place is gigantic! We started out in the Palacios Nazaries and the floor and parts of the walls were covered in tiles with the emblem of “Plus Ultra”, the words on the current Spanish flag. Tiles and mosaics were big in Muslim architecture and can be seen in many old Muslim buildings and mosques. La Alhambra also has a bunch of reflecting pools and fountains within it [some even have fish!] that represent the paradise but also represent the purification and cleansing of the hands, feet and face before prayer. One of the coolest fountains is the Patio of 12 Lions. This fountain is dedicated to all three major religions, Islam, Christianity and Judaism, as well as the Zodiac signs. The courtyard is divided into 4 parts, representing the 4 parts of the world, with one water channel each that signifies the 4 rivers of the Paradise. The number 12 signifies the 12 zodiacs and the 12 apostles of Christianity. Surrounding the patio are 124 columns and when the numbers are combined and/or separated, they also signify important things about the religions. For example: 1+4 = 5. There are 5 pillars of Islam.
Then we climbed the tower where there is a bell. Each January 2, girls will run to ring the bell and if a girl successfully rings it, the legend is that she will be married within the next year. I did not ring the bell. But the view was AMAZING and you could see a lot of the palace. Then we visited the summer palace with a beautiful fountain and lots of vegetation, even though it was only February. The summer palace had fountains and a bridge that overlooked all of the interior gardens. Similar to how my summer palace will look when I’m older.
Later on, we went to the Catedral Real. Just like the rest of the cathedrals, it was beautiful and ornate. But the coolest part about Catedral and Capilla Reales was the crypt. Yes, you read that correctly. In the middle of the chapel is a small stairway that takes you under the church to see the tombs of the Rey Fernando, Reina Isabel, their daughter, Juana la Loca and her husband, Felipe el Hermoso. Unfortunately, I got caught taking pictures in the cathedral so no pictures of the crypt. But this is what it looks like.
But my favorite part of Granada was our surprise at night. After dinner, we went to a real Flamenco performance. Although I’ve been to Flamenco before, and even participated in a class, Andalucia is the real stuff. And it was awesome! The story was about the life of the gypsies and I had so much fun watching it but cultural flamenco is again so much different from ballroom style so it still throws me off a little bit. Our last part of the night was a “paseo”. We were all really tired from the day but we walked about 10 minutes to see the view of La Alhambra lit up at night. What a beautiful palace, but at night, it’s even more breathtaking!
After touring Granada, we left early the next morning to go to our third stop…Sevilla!