21.10.11

...to endure its common-place after the poetry of the Alhambra

In the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Granada (Spain) you will find the Pass of the Moor's Sigh. Legend has it, that this is the exact spot where in 1492, Boabdil, the last Moorish Sultan of Granada, on the way to his exile, turned back to have a last glimpse at the city he loved. It was here too that his mother reproached him: "You do well, to weep as a woman over what you could not defend as a man"- maybe politically incorrect, but it was 500 years ago!
I suppose anyone would cry if you lived in the Alhambra and you had to leave forever. You would not be able to walk around the beautiful gardens, you could not smell the scent of the flowers, nor listen to the sound of water spouting from myriad fountains and running from cascades.
Some of the best views of the complex of the Alhambra are to be had from two neighborhoods that are attractions in themselves, namely, Albaicín and Sacromonte. The Albaicín was the Muslim district of Granada, with narrow streets and characteristic white houses with an interior courtyard or "carmen". At the highest point of Albaicín you will find the Mirador de San Nicolás for a breathtaking view of the Alhambra. Sacromonte is the district where the gypsies of Granada settled. Some did so in caves and, nowadays, you can still see houses literally carved out from a cave.
La Alhambra is alluring and in modern times, Washington Irving, who wrote "Tales of the Alhambra", whilst actually staying there, wrote when he left:
“My serene and happy reign in the Alhambra was suddenly brought to a close by letters which reached me, while indulging in Oriental luxury in the cool hall of the baths, summoning me away... to mingle once more in the bustle and business of the dusty world. How was I to encounter its toils and turmoils, after such a life of repose and reverie! How was I to endure its common-place, after the poetry of the Alhambra!”.
Whilst you may be tempted to spend all your time in Granada wondering around the Alhambra, the city and surrounding areas offers much more. Walk around the old Jewish quarters known as el Realejo; the square of Bib-Rambla where, among other delicacies, you can savor sugar coated "churros"; the Cathedral; visit the summerhouse of the family of the poet Federico García Lorca, who was born in the village of Fuentevaqueros just outside Granada; drive around the villages of the area of La Alpujarra, where the hispanist Gerald Brenan settled in 1920; enjoy the food, the night life and flamenco dancing and singing; or ski down the slopes of Sierra Nevada . Enjoy!



El Albaicín (view from the Alhambra)


Courtyard of the Lions - La Alhambra


La Alhambra (detail)


Gardens in La Alhambra



View of the Alhambra

La Alhambra 1



La Alhambra 2


La Alhambra 3
  

La Alhambra 4

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