8 August 2009

The Alhambra Palace, Granada

Who can fail to be enthralled by the Alhambra Palace with it's splendid Moorish architecture, pattern and ornament? If you are anywhere near Granada in Spain, you simply have to make a visit to the Alhambra a priority. It's a feast for the eyes and you will surely be captivated!

It is certainly one of my all time favourite places. The stunning architecture is adorned with decorative plasterwork, carvings and ceramics.

Did you know that the Dutch graphic artist Escher was also a huge fan of the Alhambra? He particularly loved the decorative majolica tilings and it was after his second visit there in 1936 that his obsession with order and symmetry began. He declared it ' the richest source of inspiration I have ever tapped' and made many sketches which were to be the basis of the spatial illusions and tesselation that featured in many of his works.

Even the pathways are decorative; mosaics laid out in white and black pebbles from the Rivers Darro and Genil.

The Alhambra is situated high above Granada. Vistas of the city are afforded by the wide arches..

and narrow windows - a bit like peeping through a keyhole!

Through here, you look over the trees towards the Palacio de Generalife ( Architect's Garden)

and here, through this honeycomb arch, looking across the Patio de los Arrayanes (patio of the Myrtles), more archways arranged in wedding cake tiers.

The sun beats down relentlessly on the city of Granada, but the Alhambra's elevated position fortunately offers the visitor some respite.

It's a delight to stroll through the formal gardens arranged with shallow green pools and spangling fountains, neatly clipped myrtle hedges, orange trees, shady palms and tall slender Cypresses.

And look over there, in the distance you can see the white powdered peaks of the Sierra Nevada.

These lines from Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving, evoke the atmosphere so well:Align Center

Those only who have sojourned in the ardent climates of the South, can appreciate the delights of an abode, combining the breezy coolness of the mountain with the freshness and verdure of the valley. While the city below pants with the noontide heat, and the parched Vega trembles to the eye, the delicate airs from the Sierra Nevada play through these lofty halls, bringing with them the sweetness of the surrounding gardens. Every thing invites to that indolent repose, the bliss of southern climes; and while the half-shut eye looks out from shaded balconies upon the glittering landscape, the ear is lulled by the rustling of groves, and the murmur of running streams.

The stunning Giant Magnolia trees were in full blossom.

Glorious June colour everywhere.

Even the more formal rose gardens still had some fabulous blooms - beautiful to behold and their perfume borne on the breeze intoxicating!

I love the Alhambra and would visit again, but not in June. Way too many tourists! It was quite an art dodging them. The trick is to get ahead of the tour groups - whilst they're listening to their guide you stand a half decent chance of getting a few photographs without vying with at least 4o others for the best viewpoint!

Well, that brings me to the end of this mini-tour of the Alhambra - I hope you've enjoyed it. I'll be back in a while with the last lap of our European trip , but before I go ...

After discovering the Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving I found another talented Irving! Tim Irving, who authors the blog Stylemed - Mediterranean Style and Design . If you like all things Spanish and lovely photographs, (the Flamenco dancer above is Tim's) you'll enjoy this one! Tim also has an Etsy shop which he stocks with beautiful photos - do pay him a visit!


  1. Beautiful photographs and a golden post. Thank you, Caroline. I've been enjoying your blog for some time but haven't commented. Now I have to because your connection of the Alhambra Palace and Escher is something I didn't know about. In addition your Escher link lead me into wonderful worlds. Many, many thanks.

  2. your photos are stupendously awesome, i love doors are windows too, and escher is one of my favourites. what a lovely place to be and to have memories of. enjoy the rest of your tour.

  3. Hi caroline....your photos are so beautiful! Clear, interesting, in focus and they portey sush beautiful subject matter! I love your tours.... Oh sigh...I want to travel, but not with baby, but dont want to leave baby behind, so must immerse myself in your blog...not such a bad trade off though!!

  4. Wow ! Thanks for the armchair traveling via your photos and blog:)Just lovely...

  5. Caroline, this is a WONDERFUL post about the Alhambra...
    what i like most is that you managed to take a pic of a man wearing a djellabah..this is like going back in time...wonderful..
    i didn't know either Escher was an admirer of the Alhambra and got inspired by it.
    and as for Tim, i couldn't agree more!

  6. Beautiful photos - I find Spain very inspiring but have never been to Granada...yet! I didn't know the Escher link either so thanks for that.

  7. Wow, there is so much to see and read on your blog since I last visited Caroline. Love those gorgeous ribbons and the fabulous patterned papers. Yummy. Good news about your Etsy shop too. I want to kiss that little kitty foot too...bless.

    Your photos of Granada are really gorgeous. That is probably the top place on my wish list of places to visit. All that beautiful, intricate latticeworked plaster. So reminiscent of old lace. What a labour of love for someone to create such works of art. Beautiful tiles, mosaics...I could spend a week in just that one place. Lucky you, but I agree about the tourists. Moving ahead is a good ploy or else getting somewhere late or early and probably out of season helps. When I visited the Vatican City years ago I could hardly see anything for humanity...ha ha.

    Lastly, book me a place in your blogland paradise guest house please.

  8. Absolutely beautiful! I must show your photos to my hubby, he loves Escher!


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