Breakfast this morning was amazing. There were SO many pastries filled with chocolate! We had a meeting about our day and our trip to the Alhambra while we were still at the hotel, and then had to break into three groups of 30 and some people got to request English tours. 

Before the Alhambra, we went to see the Cartuja de la Ascunción, a huge monastery. It had a central courtyard and then lots of separate rooms full of paintings, and a chapel with the most intricate ceiling I have ever seen. Sadly, NO FOTOS was the rule.

After the monestary we had more free time for lunch and then we had to get back to the hotel to leave for the big Alhambra tour. Justin, Shannon, Ryan and I stopped for a quick sandwhich and then found a candy shop for dessert. 

We met up at 1:00 and drove to the Alhambra. Luckily, I got into the only English tour group. Since this was my most anticipated even of the trip, I wanted to catch every bit of history I could. Here's a short video about the Alhambra that we watched in my class at Union that got me so interested in the whole thing to start with.
Our tour began with the palace of Charles V. It was never finished, which shows in the columns and lack of dome or ceiling at all. There are two rows of columns, doric and ionic, but the third row should have been corinthian and was never completed. The architect for this building studied with Michelangelo in Italy. Other than being on the grounds of the Alhambra where he demanded it, Charles' palace has nothing to do with the famous arab site. He just decided he liked it and wanted to settle down in the middle of it.

Once we got into the Alhambra, the tour guide practically had to drag us from place to place since we couldn't stop slowing down to gawk and take photos. No amount of photos will ever be able to show how perfect and geometric everything is. At some point you actually wish for a blank wall without tiny inscriptions to rest your eyes. The tilework was beautiful and only in green, blue, gold, and white. There are no humans or animals represented in any of the art or architecture except for one fountain with lions which was a gift from the Jews. Apparently they didn't get the memo. 

Water is a really big deal in the Alhambra, since the Moors came from the middle east where water is scarce. Apparently, the bigger and deeper your pool is, the richer you are. There were small fountrains trickling into each other all over the place, and according to our tourguide it is all from the Sierra-Nevadas, not pumped at all.

We also got to see one room with the only original stained glass left intact. In this room was much more stained glass, and here is where the sultan sat. He was backlit so that everyone who came in could only see his silhouette and not his face, but he could see theirs. Later this is the room where Columbus asked Ferdinand and Isabel about sailing around the world in 1492. That's the funny thing, even though this was an arab structure, once the Moors were pushed out of Spain, all the monarchs just kept using it and changing it for their own purposes.

We continued winding through the rooms and corridors, and the last stop was the gardens and summer home. At the end of the tour we were very tired and ready for free time. After a quick falafel dinner we decided to hit up the shops we had seen the day before. They were so pretty and exotic and it felt like I was stepping into another place and another time (at the time that was how I imagined Morocco-- how wrong was I!). Leather purses, brightly colored moroccan lamps, and harem pants (not as bad as they sound) hung for sale in all the stores. The shop owners were helpful but not pushy, which I took for granted but appreciated after the next day in Maureccos. We spent several hours shopping and looking and enjoyed every minute. Well, the boys might not have. But we girls sure did! Somehow I ended up with a pair of hippie pants, but now that I have them I'm so glad! They are so comfy and I feel just like Gennie (as in... I dream of. yes.). 
Sheri Seibold
10/22/2012 11:28:08 pm

Wow! Geometric overload, but I love it. Spirograph need to take some lessons from the Moors. I also love the 'memo' comment, too funny, and the Jeannie pants, those look cute and comfy all in one bag-o-pants!

10/23/2012 03:24:02 am

Thank you for posting that video! What an AMAZING place! I remember you telling me about it in Feb when we were visiting. What it must have taken to build it is incredible, and all the mathematics that went into it is totally mind boggling to me lol :P
I LOVE your harem pants! I'm so envious I totally want my own pair :P

Tu Tía Carmen
10/23/2012 03:12:50 pm

Fabulous job taking us through the Alhambra!


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