When people travel to many European countries, they see a variety of churches and religious sites that are usually centered on Christianity. In Spain, you have the opportunity to see churches, synagogues, and mosques. Last weekend, I traveled to Granada in the south of Spain to see the amazing Alhambra, an ancient city (originally al-Qal’a al-hamra, then the name was adapted to Spanish). The construction of the wall and the palaces inside of the wall began around 1238 during the Kingdom of Nazarí, so I was in awe that some of the original floors and walls were still intact and in relatively good condition.
The palaces built during the reign were amazing. Since we had a certified tour guide (100% worth the money), she explained what each room had been used for and tried to have us envision what it would have looked like if we had been in the palace during the Arab rule. There were also legends about the kings and queens associated with some rooms. Also, interestingly, we also saw the palace of Carlos V who built his own palace inside the walls of the Alhambra after the city was reconquered by the Spanish monarchs. Since he wanted to show his power over his newly conquered subjects, he built his palace higher than the previous palaces of the Nazarí (very petty). While his palace is like an amphitheater, it did not quite compare to the mosaics and statues of the other palaces. He also did not get to finish the planned frescos on the ceilings due to some money issues (reconquering cities can be expensive apparently).
After touring the Alhambra and Generalife, the sultan’s retreat, we were ready to roll down the hill back to our Air BnB. Fun tip: if your Air BnB host says it is difficult to walk up the hill to the Alhambra in the 100 degree weather, she is probably right. After our descent from the Alhambra, we began to get ready for our night activity: Flamenco in an old white house near the Alhambra! It was a great experiences to see some authentic Flamenco and get the opportunity to dance some. I cannot say I am a very good Flamenco dancer, but I tried! Their feet are absolutely memorizing. Many believe that this dance originated from the gypsies in the region, so we chose to see Flamenco Gitano, which was yet another culture I got to experience in Granada!
Sunday was the unofficial “Catholic” day since we went to the Capilla Real and the Cathedral of Granada. Inside of the Capilla, you could see art and the tombs of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel and also her daughter Juana and Felipe. The Cathedral of Granada is a tribute to the Virgin Mary and has so much art and gold. The organs are also extremely impressionable!
If you want to see the complicated history of Spain and be in awe of so many buildings, go to Granada! This weekend I am enjoying Madrid and going to a beach day in Valencia.