Alhambra palace in Granada

After Cordoba, we took a few hours to drive to Granada. Everyone on the tour group was quite frankly, beyond exhausted… BUT… Knowing that travel tours try to squeeze out every little bit of activity and sight-seeing, we went to see a Gypsy flamenco dance at night. It was in some little small cave (Reminded me of Cappadocia in Turkey, but on a lesser grand scale) which was cramped with tourists. It was interesting to see the fierceness within the performers, tapping out their shoes while singing. And the eyeliner man…. I do a winged eyeliner from time to time, but their eyeliner is pretty intense.

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It was interesting to experience the flamenco dance à la gypsy..

So,temperature in Granada during late November/autumn: Absolutely freezing

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*Note to oneself: Wear thick socks because boots and ankle socks certainly don’t act as sufficiently insulating garments to protect you from the biting cold…

So suffice to say, Granada was probably one of the coldest parts of my trip during Spain. Again, I want to emphasise that I really did not anticipate the cold in Spain… But the sunshine did really help.

We visited a palace in Granada: Alhambra Palace.

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It is a grand place, fit for one conquerors, precisely the Nasrid dynasty. The Nasrid dynasty was the last Muslim dynasty in Spain.

‘Alhambra’ roughly translates to ‘the red one’, ‘al-hamra’ in Arabic. The palace built on a hill overlooks Granada, and was built in the 12th & 13th century by Moorish royalty. Not only does the palace have beautiful gardens, there is also an ampitheatre! It has been a venue for music festivals too.

The gardens are incredibly well maintained with countless fountains, vines, trimmed hedges and beautiful views overlooking the landscape. I can picture a silent morning of an emperor walking around the garden.

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Just your typical Asian tourist dad: Camera and headset for a walking tour

Some of the architecture that we saw at the palace was reminiscent of San Francisco.. About 8 years ago, we visited the Stanford campus as one of our relatives was getting married at the church & golf course… This really seems like a striking resemblance  with the palm trees and red-orange coloured buildings but sans intellectuals roaming around!

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And of course, we saw more beautiful serene courtyards…

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This courtyard is particularly stunning as the floors are made out of marble. This courtyard is called the ‘Court of lions’, the main courtyard of the Nasrid dynasty of the Palace of lions. The Palace has several rooms, and from what I can remember the tour guide saying, there were several rooms for the emperor’s concubines. Although there are so many beautiful intricate details of Arabic symbols and handcraft, it would be rather quite a misfortune to live in such a room.

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The rooms were stone cold, and back in those days: NO HEATING! Also it would seem rather quite isolated and confined in a prison – except it is an exceptionally aesthetically pleasing cell.

 

So you think palaces in Europe don’t get any more grand than this (maybe with the sole exception of Versailles)? Wrong.

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The entrance of the Palace of Charles V

There is another palace that is built within Alhambra, the Palace of Charles V. The palace has two floors..

And speaking of that running joke that the Spanish architects just never finish constructing buildings (ahem it’s taken over two centuries to complete Sagrada Familia), the palace is INCOMPLETE so there’s no ceiling. Roofless. I guess the unforgiving winds and frost of Spain prevents lavish masquerade balls from being held?

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Open ceiling at the top!

But overall, Granada is probably one of my favourite places after Barcelona in Spain. It is just so stunning, that couples may choose to do their wedding photos here. Even if tourists like me sympathise the poor bride in a sleeveless bridal dress..

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