top of page

Granada Spain: The Magnificent Alhambra!

The first time Carla and I visited Granada was nearly 5 years ago. We went based on a recommendation from a waitress we got to know while staying in Valencia. We are forever grateful as we instantly fell in love with the city, and we were astounded by seeing the Alhambra – Granada’s shining star. It felt like we were not only stepping back in time but also into another world. The magnificence of Alhambra was both unexpected and it dazzled our senses. And now, with a return visit to Granada - seeing the Alhambra again was no less astounding. Unlike many places, Granada and the Alhambra seem to call you back. Our second visit built on the previous one and allowed us to see and take in even more of this spectacular site. The Alhambra is so much more than just a one-time event . . . it’s a process and with each visit it just gets better and better.

The Alhambra is a massive Moorish fortress/palace complex that sits atop the highest point in Granada, which is in Andalusia in southern Spain. It was nominated to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World but came up just short landing in 8th place. It welcomes 8,000 visitors per day and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To us, it is indeed a wonder of the world.

The Alhambra is one of the best-preserved Nasrid palaces in the Islamic world. I like to think of it as the Moor’s parting love letter to Spain. The complex was begun in 1239 by Muhammad I Ibn al-Ahmar, the first Nasrid emir and founder of the Emirate of Granada, and it was the last capital and stronghold of the Moorish empire (which lasted 700 years) to fall to Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492.

When it comes to architecture and design, I tend to sit up straight and listen when Carla shares her observations as she’s been working in the architectural and interior design field her entire career. Her commentary has helped me understand many architectural wonders, and it was especially helpful with Alhambra. She pointed out just how amazing the Moors were in how they could integrate elegant design with engineering that was way ahead of its time. A great example of this was how their use of water and fountains were both brilliant and beautiful. They not only made the courtyards and the grounds more stunning and tranquil, but they also showcased visual axes, made a pleasant and melodic sound, and kept the courtyards cool and temperate. In the Islamic world, because it was so rare and precious, water was the purest symbol of life for the Moors.

The interior of the Alhambra is equally as magnificent as the gardens and courtyards and even more intriguing, as the walls and ceilings are entirely covered with stylized motifs. Because the Muslim artists could not represent figures (to them that was the work of Allah alone) they took vegetative forms and created beautiful stylized geometric designs with them. They also used classical Arabic calligraphy to include poems written by court poets, verses of praise from the Qur’an, and the phrase “Only God is Victorious” which they repeated 9000 times throughout the complex.

I could continue to describe the many visual wonders and intricacies we saw as we toured the Alhambra, and how mesmerized we were by the whole complex, but my words will no doubt fall short of the breathtaking beauty and magnificence that the Alhambra holds. So, instead, I encourage you to look at the many photos I’ve included with this post (which enlarge when you click on them) which will take you where my words cannot and transport you back in time as you view this ancient architectural wonder. The images show views of the Alhambra exterior, views from the Alhambra overlooking the town, views of the beautiful courtyards and fountains, as well as views of the detailed interiors to give you a complete perspective of the magic and magnificence of this amazing work of art. No doubt, my shutter finger was active during our visit.

My hope is that these photos give you a glimpse of what we’ve been experiencing throughout our trip – the gift of wonder. Each day brings something new; something amazing like the Alhambra. And now, nearly 7 weeks into our trip, we’re realizing that it’s not necessary to journey to Alhambra (although I’d highly recommend that) to be amazed. It’s more about moving out of our areas of comfort, familiarity, and routine, and allowing ourselves to see with fresh eyes. There are Alhambra’s to be found even in our own backyards.

And by the way, we also have the images that are featured with this post on our Gallery Page, along with photos we have taken from the other places we have visited. Thanks for coming along with us. Enjoy!

143 views13 comments
bottom of page