Sunday, 19 August 2012

Alhambra AWE

Day 118 18.08.12 Granada 

Alhambra Palace in Granada, Southern SpainI had set an alarm for 7:45 to get down to the Alhambra before the queues got too big.  Chris had barely slept so I left him to lie in whilst I ventured out for tickets.  To my surprise the queues for the main ticket office were already gigantic.  Thankfully however the credit card automated ticket machines were once again going unnoticed and within 10 minutes I’d bought our tickets for an afternoon visit and sauntered smugly past the people in the ever-expanding paying by cash queue.  Back up the hill and back to bed for me!
After a bit more sleep we grabbed some food in the van and some wifi outside a local hotel and headed down to the palace a little early for our 2pm time-slot.  Once again there were ridiculous queues but thankfully moving quickly.

Nasrid Palace, Alhambra Palace in Granada
The tickets give you a time slot for entering the main attraction of the Nasrid Palace.  Once again the organisation was non-existent, just a jumble of people queuing with no idea what was going on!  We got in ok despite being late for our slot and were immediately astonished by the beauty of the place.  The intricacy of the carvings is just mind-blowing, such fine detail!  They have done a superb job of restoring and maintaining the palace, it’s truly gorgeous.  Every room is more impressive than the last until you reach the central lion fountain courtyard which is just breath-taking.  I walked around the entire place with my mouth wide open in genuine awe.  I simply cannot describe how amazing the Palace is.

Patio de los Leones, Court of the lions in Alhambra Palace, Granada

Afterwards we walked around the water gardens and enjoyed the views out across the rooftops of Granada.  It’s a very beautiful city from birds eye level too.  We looked around the Alcazaba the oldest part of the castle which, with its strong high walls and heavy fortifications, is quite at odds with the delicate Nasrid Palace.  The views from the top out across the city are magnificent though.

Onwards we went to the Palace of Carlos V, a very different building again.  It’s a huge circular building that looks like it should stage Gladiator duels.  Instead it plays home to the Fine Arts Museum and the Alhambra museum (both free for EU members).  Both museums have solid, impressive collections and provide a welcome air-conditioned relief from Granada’s unrelenting heat.

Alhambra Palace in Granada, SpainWe also took in an old church and the ancient baths although neither of them were particularly special.  Our last stop inside the ground was the palace and gardens of Generalife.  The palace is quite plain but the gardens are excellent.  There are many different levels of stunning gardens full of fountains and brightly coloured flowers, all of which offer amazing views of the Nasrid palace of other buildings of the Alhambra.  There is also the lovely ‘waterfall staircase’ lined either side with water flowing down to the bottom.  The whole area is very well maintained and a blissful place to spend some time relaxing and enjoying the views.
All in all I am utterly head over heels with the Alhambra.  It’s an amazing place to visit and home to some of the most spectacular architecture I could ever hope to see.

In the evening we went to a nearby hotel bar to utilise their wifi for downloading Windows in the ever continuing saga of Chris’ broken laptop.

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