Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Ancient Jewel - Alhambra, Granada

A view from Generalife
Rummaging through my files I found these old pictures which brought sweet memories of Andalusia. How do I put it in words…I love every bits of Granada but I had come to this city for Alhambra. I have been here twice, in summer 2001 and then in autumn 2005 and still hoping to return again one day! 

The first time, I flew to Malaga and then took a bus to Granada. Visiting Spain in summer (mid July) was a test of endurance for me with temperatures hitting as high as a hundred degrees. The second visit was much better and we took the 6 hours Trans-Alia from Madrid to Granada...just to be with this spectacular ancient jewel. I booked my night and day ticket to Alhambra months before my trip to avoid miles of queue and frustration if tickets were sold out. Only about 8,000 visitors are allowed per day and entrance is permitted in batches.

Touring this greatest Moorish palace gives me a sense of pride and respect for this glorious civilization. It was Dark Ages in Europe but Andalusia was flourishing as a center of knowledge and the brilliant architecture is remarkable evidence. Every corner of the palace is just breath taking. For the first time I learnt of lapis lazuli which was used as ornaments in this castle. The walls are inscribed poignantly with the phrase “La galiba illallah” - There is no conqueror but Allah.

I smiled looking at everyone in Alhambra walking with heads tilting up….mesmerized, awed by the intricate beauty of this red palace. The carving of the brilliant poet, Ibnu Zamrak (1333-1393) perfected its beauty. Poem in the Hall of the Two Sisters reads:

“I am a garden adorned by beauty my being will know whether you look at my beauty. Oh, Mohammed, my king, I try to equal the noblest thing that has ever existed or will ever exist. Sublime work of art, fate wants me to outshine every other moment in history. How much delight for the eyes!” (Ibnu Zamrak) 

After being emotionally captivated by the grandeur of Nazaries Palace, we moved on to the exuberant Generalife (garden); impressing us with its perfect symmetrical designs to be found everywhere. The sound of drizzling water in every corner of the garden was soothing music to the ears. Subhanallah and praise to Him who has bestowed the genius such artistry!

Carving on the wall
Patio de Leones (Court of the Lions)
Poetry of Ibn Zamrak
Wall of Alhambra
The pillar in Al Hambra
The Garden in Summer
Narangos (Oranges)
Apple Trees in the Garden

Above the Hall of Two Sisters

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