Another Header

December 9, 2015

Spain: Granada, Alhambra


Still water reflects inside the Alhambra.

Still water reflects inside the Alhambra.

With over 2.5 million visits each year the Alhambra Palace and Generalife Gardens in Granada lays claim as the most visited tourist attraction in Spain. The town allows 6,600 visitors to the Alhambra each day with just 600 people/hour allowed into the best section, the Nasrid Palaces. If you want to visit this UNESCO World Heritage site you’d best plan ahead.

Though tickets can be purchased in advance online they usually sell out well before the date. Indeed, we discovered two weeks before our planned visit in early November that there were no tickets available from the Alhambra’s ticket office during the three days of our visit. Rather than taking our chances at the walk up window, we, like many others, opted to visit the Alhambra in a guided tour. The Alhambra’s restricted ticket policy is a boon for Granada’s tour guides.

Always look up

Always look up

DSC_3251-Edit-Edit-Edit

On the day of our visit we arrived in the morning and met our guide. Each member of the tour group was issued a set of ear buds and a radio receiver pre-tuned to the guide’s broadcast channel. With so many guides inside the compound, pre-tuned radios are a practical response to keep the overlapping poly-lingual narratives from clashing.

In our case there was little chance that our guide would have been outdone by the competition. Once the tour started the ear buds pumped out a non-stop narrative, frequently banal and repetitive. Impossible as it seemed, the guide looked to be capable of breathing in and speaking out at the same time.

DSC_3189-Edit-Edit

The old Moorish section of Granada, the Albayzín, viewed from the Alhambra.

The old Moorish section of Granada, the Albayzín, viewed from the Alhambra.

Snarky comments about tourism and the guide aside, the Alhambra is an interesting place to visit. The gardens are beautiful; the indoor spaces are cool and peaceful. Unlike many European palaces of the same era, living in the Alhambra during its Moorish heyday did not seem like a serious hardship.

Striking is the intricate detailing on the inside of the palaces. In contrast to Western styles, Islamic decorations typically do not depict humans or animals. Consequentially most of the decorations in the Alhambra are either patterns or script.

DSC_3137-Edit-Edit

The inside of the Alhambra is highly detailed, including much Arabic script.

The inside of the Alhambra is highly detailed, including much Arabic script.

The tiles in the Alhambra are remarkable in that they contain nearly all, if not all, of the seventeen mathematically possible wallpaper groups. (Rest assured; I did not personally verify that all of the plane symmetry groups were present.) Given the influence of the Islamic world on the development of mathematics, the inclusion of highly symmetrical patterns in the Alhambra’s decorations seems unlikely to be coincidental.

Ceiling details

Ceiling details

The Court of la Acequia inside Palacio de Generalife

The Court of la Acequia inside Palacio de Generalife

Fortifications

Fortifications

DSC_3342-Edit-Edit-Edit

Arabesque windows

DSC_3302_HDR-Edit-Edit-Edit

Secretly, I'm a wedding photographer photographer.

Secretly, I’m a wedding photographer photographer.

The UNESCO plaque

The UNESCO plaque

1 Comment »

  1. […] from the Alhambra by the steep sides of the Rio Darro drainage is the Albayzín, Granada’s historic Moorish […]

    Pingback by Spain: Granada, the Albayzín and More | Another Header — December 11, 2015 @ 2:01 am


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: