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In keeping with SPAIN WEEK here at A Traveler’s Library, (see Monday and Wednesday’s reviews of books for travelers) I’m posting pictures from our travel to the absolutely most iconic Spanish tourism location–the Alhambra. You can read more about our literary inspiration for travel to the Alhambra, Washington Irving’s Tales of the Alhambra, here.
Before you make plans to sleep overnight at The Alhambra–not gonna happen. Tourists can only rarely get a glimpse inside the room, and you’ll need to book a hotel next door, or down the hill in town. Washington Irving’s room was in a private residence within the Alhambra that was a hosteleria in the 19th century. The plaque over the door says, Washington Irving escribo en estas habitaciones sus Cuentos de la Alhambra en el año de 1829. In English translation: Washington Irving, wrote, in these rooms, his Tales of the Alhambra in the year 1829.
Reading his evocative stories inspired us to book both a day time and a night-time tour of the Alhambra. I was not skilled in nighttime photography and so you will have to take my word for it that seeing the Alhambra by candlelight, with shadows throwing carvings into sharp relief, gives a different and breath-taking contrast to the sun-bathed view of daytime. EVERYTHING is decorated.
One of the most famous features is the lion fountain, which was turned off for maintenance and cleaning when we were there. Too bad about the cleaning as there is a legend that you can still see the blood of knights slain at the fountain. The knights were of the family that owned the house Washington Irving lived in. So there are the bloodless lions.
Gardens, fountains, elaborate carvings and tile work–the elements that you find in all the Moorish designs.
Living in a desert climate, I can understand why water features were so important to Moorish design. You feel instantly cooler when you see a sight like this one/ Regardless of the throng of tourists, the architecture and the water conspire to create a calm oasis.
Photographers may nod in recognition of my sad tale about the reflecting pool. A pair of young lovers sat on the far edge of the pool. I tried to shoot across the pool, and someone walked in front of me. I tried again and the light was wrong. I never did get the picture, but in my memory it is the perfect picture that got away.
I may have missed the lovers, but I caught the kids.
I am painfully aware how inadequate any photographs are to capture the magic of the Alhambra. All you can do is take photos of small pieces, but when you walk through the buildings, these individual elements surround you and form an amazing cohesive experience of beauty. My photos are particularly inadequate, since they are scans from ten-year-old slides. But I hope they may inspire you to travel to Granada and take your own pictures–both in your mind and on your camera.
These photos are my contribution to Travel Photo Thursday, sponsored at Budget Traveler’s Sandbox. Take a look at that site to see photographers from around the world as they interpret their travels.
The link from the title of Tales of The Alhambra allows you to shop at Amazon and automatically benefit A Traveler’s Library. Thank you for your support.