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.
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.
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.
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