When you buy tickets for the Alhambra you have to choose between the morning or afternoon. We chose afternoon because the morning session started at 8 a.m.  We had yet to even be awake once that early in the morning. The problem with that is the temperature. It had been warm in the afternoons all week. Still we were glad we chose the afternoon. We were all enjoying waking late every morning.

Over the past few months in the States there have been many news stories about African refugees trying to come to Europe. We had seen and even bought things from men on the streets since we had been in Spain. Today Sean and Sophia bought a hat and sunglasses from two men who told us they were from Somalia. Over the next few days I asked and was told often by men selling things in the street that they were from Somalia. The men today seemed to be being bossed around by an older red-haired woman who had no teeth. I really hope these men are not working off their passage by hawking cheap trinkets in front of the Alhambra.

Unfortunately, I didn’t decide I wanted to tell you all about this until the Somali expats were walking away. When I was finally done fumbling with my camera they had walked away. You can just see the two walking up the tree-lined lane.

The woman with red hair and green shirt at the bench is the woman who seemed to be their boss. If she is I hope she is at least a good and fair one.

Sophia needed new sunglasses & Sean needed glasses and a new sun hat. “I can wear it camping mom.” (6/20/15: He has it with him on a camping trip he left for on the day we returned.)


It is hard to wrap your head around what it must be like to be an adult trying to feed yourself and possibly your family back home this way. I hope their life is a good one. My heart hurts that this might not be the case. I wish the dreams we all had for ourselves could be realized. (Bleeding heart, tree hugging, liberal type here 😉 in case you hadn’t figured that out yet.)

Our reason for visiting Granada was to see the Alhambra. Many people over the past 2 weeks had told us we could not visit Spain and skip the Alhambra. So we booked 2 nights in Granada. Granada turned out to be worth visiting for much more than the Alhambra. We all really like the vibe of the town, and the house where we are staying is awesome. If you are going to Granada, especially with a family, I recommend it, https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/5445326.

Here are a series of photos from inside the Alhambra. A tip I have for you is to buy your tickets 2 to 3 weeks before you need them. By the time I tried to buy the tickets they only had the Generalife tickets available. This was all the kids cared about seeing anyway, and if you have to choose one, this is what you want to see. We had admittance into every area except the Nasrid Palace. When you enter the grounds of the Alhambra you have your choice where to start. It is divided (on the map and with signage) into several areas. We went left, because that is where #1 on the audio is. I rented a handheld audio guide .  I like information on the tour, but no one else cares. They trust me to tell them about the interesting parts 😉  Jim took the photos today, because I was busy holding the guide.

Water was important to life and to the faith of the Moors. In college I learned that Moors were Berbers, and that the term Moor is not synonymous with Muslim, as some people including Jim thought. The written information on the internet is very confusing on this issue. It might have to do with the fact that the Christians conquered the Moors, and therefore wrote the history after that. During the xenophobic time when Christians were using divisive religion tactics to force mass conversions or expulsions with the confiscation of property to increase their numbers, they would have benefited greatly from stereotyping all Moors as also being Muslims, but that is just where my mind wandered as I was processing what we had seen in Girona with the history we were learning at the Alhambra. I do not know how accurate this is, but it is a very interesting list, http://www.blackhistorystudies.com/resources/resources/15-facts-on-the-moors-in-spain/. The material on this list is closer to what I learned in college than much of what is on the Internet, but I do not know much about this time or area of history.

  

Much of what is seen today has been restored. The French burned the Alhambra when they conquered this area.


Most of the photos here show the Moorish influence in their architecture and design details. The photo above is of the Santa Maria de la Alhambra. A beautiful building that was a mosque, before it was converted into a church.

Below I am standing in front of the Bano de la Mezquita. This type of communal bath was a place to take ablutions before prayer, socialize, and gather.

The roof of the bano.   This shows Charles V conquering his Moorish adversaries.

From the wall surrounding Charles V Palace. Jim says that is a good view of where we are staying.

  

The Puerta del Vino above is purportedly the oldest structure in the Alhambra.

Since 1556, the neighbours of the Alhambra left at this gate the wine that they drunk and which was not submitted to taxation. This is a possible explanation for the gate’s name, although there is another theory, according to which the name is the result of a mistake. Apparently two words got muddled up: «Bib al-hamra’», meaning Red Gate or Gate to the Alhambra, which would be the original name of the gate, and «Bib al-jamra», meaning Wine Gate. This second theory would then prove that this was the access gate to the higher Alhambra.

http://www.alhambradegranada.org/en/info/placesandspots/winegate.asp

Across from the wine gate is more running water.Up the steps with the running water to the next area called the Alcazaba. “The word derives from the Arabic word القصبة (al-qasbah), a walled-fortification in a city,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcazaba. Which is exactly what it looked like. Sean and Sophia ran up to the top, while I caught my breath.

Here is a photo of them at the top. Good thing Sean bought that hat so he was easy to spot.   I still see Sean, where is Sophia?

  Sean waits at the tunnel from the staircase to the top of the tower of the Alcazaba.   The top of this tower has a great view looking back across the Alhambra, because it is at the far west end.

Sean trying to give me a heart attack! “Mom, I bet I could scale down from here.” “If you do that Sean, I will kill you myself!”
  This is the view from the other side of the tower. You can see why they built a watch tower here.  We strolled from there through the gardens to what is called Generalife.    

There were several of these towers like the one above along the way. They look like watch towers, but they were not. They were living quarters, oratories, and other structures. The audio guide quoted often from the text The Alhambra written in 1832 by Washington Irving. I really wish I had read it before visiting. Here is a link for you to a free copy of the book, http://pinkmonkey.com/dl/library1/irvng001.pdf. Irving visited many of these outer buildings before the interiors were stripped, and he describes them in his text.     Generalife is at the north-east side of the Alhambra complex. The photo below shows the view looking west and a bit north.   

Generalife has water everywhere. Beautiful flowers and scents and water are a with you in most areas of the Alhambra, all except Alcazaba.  This view looks out on the White Church where we were last night and the Albaicin. (There are several ways to spell this. I have chosen the spelling we saw in Grenada.)The Albaicin, the area we are staying in, has been inhabited since pre-Roman times. Today this area reflects the Moorish influence over a series of centuries, not Roman or Christian. The palace of the Alhambra was completed in the 14th century by a Moorish ruler of that time, Yusuf I and his son Mohammed V. The Catholic Monarch Charles V also has a palace on the grounds built in 1526. That was the building we almost got locked in the night before. The 1500’s were a tumultuous time as the Moors and Catholics fought for who was going to rule in southern Spain. After winning a series of battles, Charles V built his palace as a symbol that a new power was in charge and it was a Catholic one. Charles V increased taxes to build the Palace which after a while led to an uprising. (Jim and I both read Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot by Masha Gessen this trip. It made us more reflective and thoughtful about the power the people actually have if they act as a collective. http://www.amazon.com/Words-Will-Break-Cement-Passion/dp/1594632197).

The walls were built in the days when those kept people out!  

This is an ambulance we saw at the Alhambra. This gives a great idea of how small and tight the streets are in historic medieval areas of Europe.

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We were ready to get back. The kids wanted to swim and Sean and Sophia both wanted to eat more of these!