Basia Zarzycka Minerva memories – The Alhambra Palace

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Docked at the Port of Motril in Spain for the short journey to Granada to visit the Alhambra Palace.

Granada is the soul of Andalusia, a place of breathtaking beauty at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This mystical city was the capital of a Moorish kingdom from the 13th until the 15th centuries.

01 Apr 2011, Alhambra Palace, Granada, Spain --- The Alhambra Palace at sunset, Granada, Granada Province, Andalucia, Spain --- Image by © Doug Pearson/JAI/Corbis

To the Moors who arrived from North Africa, the lush setting of Granada was like heaven on earth. The Nasrid Dynasty reigned with a splendour unlike anywhere in the world.

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Although now predominantly Christian, Granada has inherited rich Islamic, Jewish, and Gypsy influences. The Renaissance Catholic cathedral was once a mosque. The Albaicín (old Moorish town) and the Alcaicería (spice market) have an authentic Arabic flavour. Colourful Gypsy culture and fabulous flamenco dancing is found in the caves of the Sacromonte quarter.

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The Alhambra stands majestically on a fortified hilltop with the snow-peaked Sierra Nevada Mountains as a backdrop. This UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site is the main reason to visit Granada and is an absolute must-see attraction.

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The Alhambra was the residence of the Moorish rulers of the Nasrid Dynasty for 250 glorious years, from the 13th to the 15th centuries, and is a veritable museum of Islamic architecture. Surrounded by ancient walls, the Alhambra appears from afar to be an impenetrable fortress. This site was the last stronghold of the Moors in Spain.

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The Alhambra complex consists of four groups of buildings in carefully landscaped grounds. The Alcazaba is the original 13th-century Moorish fortress, the oldest part of the Alhambra. All that remains of the Alcazaba are the ramparts and the towers. The Nasrid Palaces are the most splendid buildings of the complex, with marvellous accommodations and public spaces used by the Sultans of the Nasrid Dynasty.

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Typical of secular Moorish buildings, the Nasrid Palaces are plain on the exterior but sumptuous on the interior with decorative tile work and peaceful courtyards. The Palace of Charles V was built in the 16th century after the conquest of the Moors and was used by the Spanish emperor as his summer palace.

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The Palacio del Generalife was the summer palace of the Moorish Kings, which was completed in 1319, during the reign of Ismail I. The Generalife Palace is most renowned for its lush gardens. The beautifully landscaped grounds extend up the hill, reminiscent of the gardens of an Italian Renaissance villa with terraces, grottoes, flowerbeds, and carefully trimmed hedges.

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The most characteristic feature of the gardens is the use of water in water lanes and decorative fountains. The abundance of water was the Moors’ symbol of richness, and the fountains are extravagant showpieces.

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An ambulance small enough to navigate th small lanes in the Palace to rescue any tourists. A beautiful day out seeing the amazing Alhambra Palace.

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About Basia Zarzycka

www.basiazarzycka.com