“Do not weep like a woman for what you could not defend like a man”

Myrtle Patio in the Nasrid Palace
Myrtle Patio in the Nasrid Palace

After our time in Seville, we moved on to Granada, home to the towering citadel the Alhambra, set against the dramatic backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains (the original Sierra Nevadas).

The Alhambra (“the red one” in Arabic) is a collection of palaces, a city and a citadel: a massive complex that grew over centuries as each ruler added his own legacy.

Exterior view of part of the Alhambra
Exterior view of part of the Alhambra
Arabic language is found throughout the complex in the decor on walls and arches.
Arabic language is found throughout the complex in the decor on walls and arches.

The first fortress was built in 889. It was later expanded into palaces in the 14th century for Yusuf I, the Sultan of Granada. The most famous part of the Alhambra, the Nasrid Palace, was built for the Nasrid Dynasty between the 14th century and the Reconquista in 1492. It was used by the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella after they took over, and their grandson Charles V added his own Renaissance palace, as he was wont to do. The Alhambra was forgotten for a couple centuries until European scholars rediscovered it, and it captured the imagination of writers like Washington Irving who set tales of wonder there.

The main chamber you enter first in the Nasrid Palace.
The main chamber you enter first in the Nasrid Palace.
More colorful tile work
More colorful tile work
Colorful tiles cover ever space that doesn't have carvings
Colorful tiles cover ever space that doesn’t have carvings

Elaborate decorations based on nature and geometry, peaceful courtyards with water features and ordered gardens are the hallmarks here. It really gives you a sense for the romance of the Muslim period — imagine spending a day soaking up the sun in one of the courtyards as you listen to the water flow through the fountain.

Ruins of a palace or other buildings in the courtyard between the Renaissance Palace and the Nasrid Palace
Ruins of a palace or other buildings in the courtyard between the Renaissance Palace and the Nasrid Palace
Arches on the outer edge of the Court of Lions
Arches on the outer edge of the Court of Lions
The carvings are done in plaster - it's kind of amazing they're in such good condition.
The carvings are done in plaster – it’s kind of amazing they’re in such good condition.
Arabic language as part of the decor
Arabic language as part of the decor
Stalactite ceiling in the Nasrid Palace
Stalactite ceiling in the Nasrid Palace
One of the balconies in the Alhambra
One of the balconies in the Alhambra
One of the courtyards
One of the courtyards
Elaborate windows look out over a green courtyard
Elaborate windows look out over a green courtyard
From these windows you can see Granada and the Sierra Nevada mountains
From these windows you can see Granada and the Sierra Nevada mountains
This is the Throne Room where the sultan would have heard petitioners
This is the Throne Room where the sultan would have heard petitioners
The Court of Lions honors the three religions of the people: arranged as a Christian cloister with Arabic writings and decor, and the 12 lions in the middle represent the 12 tribes of Israel
The Court of Lions honors the three religions of the people: arranged as a Christian cloister with Arabic writings and decor, and the 12 lions in the middle represent the 12 tribes of Israel
Detail on one of the columns in the Nasrid Palace
Detail on one of the columns in the Nasrid Palace
View of Granada from one of the Alhambra's balconies
View of Granada from one of the Alhambra’s balconies
This alcove has the last remaining piece of original stained glass. At one time, the palaces would have been lousy with the stuff.
This alcove has the last remaining piece of original stained glass. At one time, the palaces would have been lousy with the stuff.
Just one section of the Alhambra gardens
Just one section of the Alhambra gardens
This persimmon tree graces one of the gardens at the Alhambra
This persimmon tree graces one of the gardens at the Alhambra
A beautiful tree in the main courtyard
A beautiful tree in the main courtyard
Exterior of the Renaissance Palace added by Charles V
Exterior of the Renaissance Palace added by Charles V
Part of the Renaissance Palace added by Charles V
Part of the Renaissance Palace added by Charles V

Title quote: The super tactful mother of Boabdil, the last Muslim ruler of Granada, who said these immortal words to her son as he was forced to flee his fortress against the advance of the Catholic Monarchs in 1492

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