We travel by train from Cordoba to Granada. At least we try to. There is a problem with the train service. We get off part way and travel the rest of the way by a bus that is laid on by the train company.
Coming into Granada on the bus, we see that the city is built on a hill. The Alhambra is at the top, with steep and narrow Moorish streets winding down the hill to the ‘European’ part below. The contrast is striking. There is a lot of graffiti and there is a tension here that is absent in Seville.
The Moorish area is known as the Albaicín, and dates back to the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada. It and the Alhambra were declared a World Heritage Site in 1984.
The Nasrids were the last to hold out against the resurgence of Catholic Spain that recaptured Granada from the succession of Moorish kingdoms that held the south of Spain for centuries.
This painting in the museum in Granada depicts the Nasrid queen leaving the palace after the defeat by Catholic Spain. If it is historically accurate, then the Moors were well regarded even in defeat.
We stay in a hotel on a broad street, European in feel and layout, that divides the Moorish and the European areas. Turn up the nearest side street out of the hotel and we are in the bubbling Kasbah. And in the background to the south, the Sierra Nevada mountains.
We eat in a restaurant that is reminiscent of Morocco – dark, with low seats in booths, the smell of hookahs.
We want to visit the world-famous Moorish citadel and palace that is the Alhambra. We learn that there are a limited number of tickets available and that we have no chance of getting a ticket because they are sold out months in advance.
We don’t give up. We telephone and we learn that the trick is to go onto the Alhambra website immediately after midnight, when agents release some of the tickets they reserved in block bookings. We do it and we are successful. Oh how happy we are that we have tickets, and so pleased with ourselves that we did not just sit back and lament when we first heard that there were none.
Twenty minutes after we get our tickets, we check again. It is true – they are all sold. It was worth hovering over the website at midnight.
The next day we go. That is when we realise that it is possible to see a lot of the Alhambra without a ticket. It is only to see the innermost parts that a ticket is needed. We are glad when we see the Almohad influence on the architecture and see the reflecting pools. We would have been disappointed not to see this part of the Alhambra.
We compare our impressions of the Alhambra with the Alcazar in Seville. We think the Alcazar is more impressive in its detail. Oh, that we could stop comparing.
The Gardens Of The Alhambra
We like the gardens of the Alhambra. There are flowers and bushes and trees, and a steady stream of people from all over the world walking along the paths.
We sit on a bench and watch them pass. Down the hill to the south, to the city below, we see beyond to the Sierra Nevada mountains. From Cordoba to Granada has been interesting. In a couple of days we will hire and car and drive into the mountains.
If you missed it, Part Two of this travelogue is here.