Thursday, January 30, 2020

Porto Barcelona Day 17 - A Day at Alhambra Granada

Good morning and hello Alhambra, we were making our way through streets and steep alleys looking for you.
Plaza Isabel La Catolica is a common place where most will pass by it many times whenever you are in the neigbourhood. It is a square with a bronze monument of the Queen Isabel I of Castille. GPS : 37.175667, -3.597387
Somewhere along Gran Vía de Colón Street we made enquiry as how to get around in Granada. First we decided to visit a view point at Plaza St. Nicolas before spending the whole day at Alhambra.
We took an Alhambra mini bus numbered C32 to Plaza St. Nicolas, known for its viewing platform.
Mirador San Nicolas located at GPS : 37.181114, -3.592670, the sun was coming against us, a prefect view of Alhambra would be in the evening when the sun is setting. Anyway there were still many people gathering at the viewing platform and taking pictures.
We then jumped back into the Alhambra mini bus for the next stop at Alhambra using the same tickets without any further fee as long as the ticket is being used within the allowable time frame. By the way the bus ticket price was 1.4 euro per head.
Finally we reached Alhambra at the main entrance. Jo have has purchased the tickets online prior to our visit. It was the Alhambra General Daytime ticket amounting 14.85€ per head.
The place is huge and we decided to take on Generalife Gardens first. Generalife occupied the slopes of the Hill of the Sun (Cerro del Sol), from which there is a complete view over the city and the valleys of the rivers Genil and Darro. The Generalife became a leisure place for the kings of Granada when they wanted to get away from their official affairs of the palace.
It was built in the 13th century and it was redecorated by the King Abu I-Walid Isma'il (1313-1324). Generalife is basically divided by two groups of buildings connected by the Patio of the Irrigation Ditch (Patio de la Acequia). 
It is difficult to know what exactly Generalife looks like when it was in its original condition, as it has went through many alteration and re-construction throughout the Christian period. These changes were necessary due to its dilapidated state left neglected during the Muslim period.
The view from Generalife towards Alhambra and its community at the lower ground. 
Covering the gardens and trying not to miss out any of the interesting elements of Generalife.
The Garden of the Irrigation is one of the main features connecting the 2 group of buildings.
Nasrid Palace and Alcazaba as seen from Palacio del Generalife, Alhambra
Time to re-fuel and rest the leg before proceeding to the next spot. Obviously we were prepared as far as food and drink are concerned in the park.
A chance to observe how these big hedges of plant were being manicured.
A ruin where we passed by while moving towards the Palace of Charles V, a potential site to be improved and make it exciting for tourists.
The Palace of Charles V is a Renaissance building inside the Nasrid fortification of the Alhambra. The building has never been a home to a monarch and stood roofless until 1957. The exterior of the building uses a typically Renaissance combination of rustication on the lower level and ashlar on the upper.
I thought it was a bull fighting ring the moment I came into the building as the has an inner circular patio. No it was no a bull fighting ring but a two storey palace.
Another image captured of the circular patio. The palace that was not completed initially and remained roofless until the late twentieth century.
We took another break at the Square of the Cisterns (Plaza de los Aljibes) which was built by Count of Tendilla in 1494 in the gully between the Alcazaba and the palaces. Another beautiful view from the square where there is a kiosk selling coffee, snacks and ice cream. 
 A panoramic view of the city from the square. An esplanade between the towers and the defence of the Alhambra on one side and the Wine Gate (Puerta del Vino), the Arabic palaces and the Charles V Palace (Palacio de Carlos V) on the other side.
Alcazaba was next on our visit list for the day.
Alcazaba is a fortress and one of the oldest parts of Alhambra just like the Vermilion Towers (Torres Bermejas). It is believed that it was built before the Muslims arrived at Granada where there were already several constructions in the same area. 
The first historical reference to the existence of the Alcazaba dated back from the 9th century and it is believed that it was then built by Sawwar ben Hamdun during the fights between Muslims and muwalladins (Christians who converted to the Islam and lived among the Muslims). 
The current complex was built by Mohammed I, who constructed the ramparts around the previous castle, defence and three new towers: The Broken Tower (Torre Quebrada), the Keep (Torre del Homenaje) and the Watch Tower (Torre de la Vela). As a consequence, the Alcazaba became a real fortress, where the king established the royal residence. His son Mohammed II also had his residence in the Alcazaba, until the palaces were finished. From then on, the Alcazaba was only used as a fortress for military purposes. 
When the Christians took the city, they carried out many works to repair the Alcazaba. At certain part of the history it was used as a State prison, even during the French occupation. 
Like the Alhambra, the Alcazaba was abandoned and not cared for a long time and it was not until the late 19th century and beginning of the 20th century that the restoration began.
Our last place to visit with a scheduled time to enter the Palace of Nazri. We had to queued for the entrance and security was observed when entering.
The Palaces were the residence of the kings of Granada. Alhambar, the founder of the dynasty began to build in the 13th century. These palaces enclose within their walls the refinement and delicacy of the last Hispanic-Arab governors of Al Andalus and the Nasrid.
The intimate concept of the royal palace, closed in the eyes of the curious, harmonizes the robustness of the outer panels with the fragility of the interior, where the architectural elements become purely ornamental. 
One of the amazing pieces of the Alhambra, a brilliant Islamic building in Europe, with perfectly proportioned rooms and courtyards, intricately moulded stucco walls, beautiful tiling, fine carved wooden ceilings and elaborate stalactite-like muqarnas vaulting, all worked in mesmerising, symbolic, geometrical patterns. Arabic inscriptions proliferate in the stucco work.
The courtyards, continuous allusions to the garden, with elements of Persian and Muslim inspiration. 
A peep into the court yard as we were flowing through with the stream of tourists in the palaces.
The water, element that forms the palace, combining the garden with the architecture, represents the purity; Crystalline water that flows between the marbles of the fountains; Water of life that gives richness and freshness to the garden, aesthetic beauty, generosity of the Sultan ... a whole world of symbols and stimuli.
That's was it we finally visited Alhambra and had a good knowledge of the Muslim influence in this part of Europe.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Porto Barcelona Day 16 - Alcala La Real - Granada

The terracing terrain of Alcala la Real from the castle down to the small town of a population of about 21,000 people. A place that could be considered to stay for retirement.
Casa Grande is one of the many old buildings built hundred of years ago with a sub level where our Bromptons were kept.
A short distance to the bus terminal from Casa Grande and we were waiting for the bus.
Some of the places that are connected to Alcala la Real by bus as seen on the wall. Another time for a re visit Spain with all these places to explore.
I got a fantastic view sitting next to the driver.
As we were approaching Granada, I saw a similar practice back home where a man was peddling to sell stuff at a traffic light juncture. It's really tough making a living in almost everywhere. Be blessed in what ever we have and let's live simple.
Why I was sitting at the assistant driver's seat, the bus company over sold its tickets. A few were asked to take the next bus and I was offered the front seat instead of sitting at the aisle. 
There was a stop before the final halt at the terminal, nearly half the load ended their journey here. I had to get down the bus to make way for the passengers to disembark.

All I know about Granada is something to do with a Korean movie and the word Alhambra continuously ringing to me. I shall find out more in the next few days in Granada. Let's set up our bicycles and see Granada. Location of the bus terminal is at GPS :
37.199836, -3.613198

The main entrance of the Bus Terminal of Granada and yes we have arrived at one of the famous tourist spots of Spain, Granada. Most visited place by tourists from all the world and we were here to add on the statistic. 
The long time capital of Moorish Andalusia is awaiting us to explore and at the same time we shall get to know a bit of its history.
The distance from the bus terminal to our next accommodation was about 5km away.
The apartment for the next three nights in Granada called as Campo  Del Principe (meaning the Prince's Field) located at Calle Escutia GPS : 37.172384, -3.592590
It's nice to see one of the two bags couriered from Porto has arrived at the apartment. The other bag was couriered to Barcelona. The bags for our bicycles when they need our folded bikes to be bagged and flown in a plane.
Time for a lunch at Papaupa Retrofusion Food at Calle Molinos, GPS : 37.173242, -3.593106
The food was good so was the strength of the wifi.
I was beginning to get the hang of eating the olive taste. Taking the irresistible preserved seed at almost all our meals. This one came together with a tapas.
A beer with no stick on label. Alhambra was founded, as you can imagine, in the Andalusian city of Granada in 1925. Today it is the signature brand of this city, and one of the most widely consumed beers in southern Spain. Easy to drink, this is an outstanding example of a European lager. Golden amber in color, with a full bodied flavor developed over a slow, controlled fermentation of roughly 60 days. Mild grassy hop aromas along with hints of grain malt. Medium-light bodied and lightly carbonated. Perfectly balanced, with notes ranging from bitter orange to a slightly caramel finish. 
After the lunch we took out our bicycles and went roaming around the neighbourhood. Coming down the steep road from Alhambra Palace Hotel along Cuesta del Caldera street we stopped at a wall mural for  photography. Location GPS : 37.170374, -3.588664
A popular fountain of the Granadas with a bronze sculpture by Grenadian Ramiro Megías. Where is the water? GPS : 37.169352, -3.595767
The Genil River flowing through the city at a green park in an elongated shape. Wonder why it so dry in Granada?
Taking a welfie with a mascot from a pastry joint (I am just guessing) he was fun and friendly.
Another iconic fountain at the Plaza del Campillo was dry too and it is known as Fuente de las Batallas. Situated at Calle Acera del Casino, GPS : 37.172118, -3.598660

Next to the fountain is this attractive sculpture and one for the album.
Fenn sent her bike to check on her break at Bicicletas La Estación, Brompton bikes are sold here and for the first time I saw a e-Brompton. They did not charge Fenn for the checking. Thank you for much.
Abutting each other is Iglesia del Sagrario, a Catholic church and the Royal Chapel of Granada on the right. Behind them is the huge Cathedral of Granada. Location GPS : 37.176047, -3.598568. I enjoyed the songs and music sung by the busker while some went in the church.

That was the last place we visited for the day and left the historical place at this lane named as Calle Oficios.