Day 11 – Granada, the Alhambra!

So where was I? Ah yes Granada! The trip from Madrid was pretty smooth. Some spectacular scenery along the way. One thing that I’ve noticed over here is how well the European Nations are getting behind alternative energy. There are wind farms everywhere and I even passed a solar array on the way to Granada. Its a shame we weren’t doing more of this in Australia. We’ve got the space.

IMGP1176 Anyway. Granada. As soon as I made my way out of the train station and along the main avenue I was totally in love with the place. It was still light out when I arrived so I could see the white wash houses scaling the hillside. It was a pretty spectacular sight.

I arrived at the Hostel around 10pm. Its in the old town area. Lots of narrow little streets with all sorts of little shops. Kind of like San Sebastian but older and more Arabian. This area is called the Albaicin. This area was originally built when the Moors were occupying Spain so there is a lot of Islamic influence around the place.

The greatest example of this is giant fort/temple/palace on top of the hill right next to this area called the Alhambra. This is what I came all the way down here to see.

The Alhambra was simply magnificent. After all the european palaces and castles that I had already seen this was a welcome change of pace. The architecture and gardens transport you out of Spain and into something like you would expect to see in Lawrence of Arabia. Apart from the European style palace that has been built smack bang in the middle but its easy enough to overt your eyes.

IMAG0375 I hiked up the hill early monday morning to make sure I arrived in time. If you miss the time slot on your ticket you’re out of luck. The first stop was the Nasrid Palace which is full of little rooms with intricate door ways and ceilings. No paintings just carvings and arched windows that frame the spectacular views of Granada. I definitely would not have minded waking up here of a morning. There are small and large courtyard gardens throughout with fountains and ponds and water features. There was just so much running water up here. I had no idea where it all was coming from. All the way up the hill there was a constant flow of water coming down from the citadel. Then throughout water was quite the feature.

The Alhambra also includes a fort. Not a whole lot to look at but makes for some great views. From up here you can see all of Granada and the mountains that surround it.

The gardens are immense and well maintained. Although as I was walking along admiring the hedge work the maintenance guys were giving the hedges their summer haircut leaving them bare, see through, and brown. Not sure what the go with that was.

IMAG0320 The complex also includes another palace called the Generalife. Strangely this one doesn’t require a booked time to go through it as the Nasrid Palace does but it was just as impressive. There was a much bigger focus on the gardens in this palace. Lots of fountains and even a set of stairs that had constant running water inside the handrails.

After the Christians moved in they built a church and also another palace. The palace of Charles V looks like your everyday modern european palace until you walk inside. Is kind of a cross between Buckingham Palace and the Colosseum. The centre of the building is an open round courtyard that appears very roman. This is because Charles V was the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

IMAG0279 So after I’d seen all I could see I wandered back down to the town proceeded to walk practically all over Granada. There are some nice cathedrals and streets to get lost in but not a great deal of other attractions. Especially not like the Alhambra. I took a walk up through the old town area to explore a little more. The streets are really narrow. I couldn’t believe it when cars and trucks started to drive by. There is essentially no where to go. You can easily get lost in these streets. I had a map with me but even still there was a little back tracking here and there where the map just wasn’t quite right. I worked my way up to a few look outs for some magnificent views of the Alhambra and the further into the centre to see some of the really old areas with not that many tourists walking around.

I ended up not so closely following an english tour group which led me to another spectacular lookout (I didn’t realise how high up I’d come) and also a view of the remnants of one of the ancient walls that used to protect the city.

I made my way back down to the hostel to collect my bags and head down to the train station. I have an overnight train to Barcelona. I was nearly going to fork out for the sleeper but went for the cheap option instead. I can always sleep in Barcelona.

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