Before we entered the vast Alhambra complex, we opted to continue above it the Carmen de los Martires Gardens, a lovely green space. The “small” mansion (now there’s an oxymoron) on the property had an artsy photography exhibit and provided a few minutes of entertainment, but large=scale collages of small photos are not really our thing....unless of course it’s the photograhy of family and friends.
Then, we took advantage of the nice weather to hike up the hill behind the house as high as we could access (815 m) to take in the view.
Upon arriving at the Alhambra ticket office, we were not at all surprised the Nazrid Palace tickets were sold out - we had checked online and accepted that there would be zero tickets available - access to the palace often sells out months in advance.
We were, however, pleasantly surprised that we could purchase day-of tickets to the Generalife, which functioned as the Alhambra’s Summer Palace. By today’s distances, it seems odd that the Generlife was build to be a cool haven for the sultans during the summer. It seems barely higher up, so I’m guessing it was a combination of wind and elevation that worked for them. Additionally the Generalife was designed with cooling pools and channels of water throughout. It also has exquisite gardens, which combined warrant the separate ticket.
After the gardens we wandered through the no-ticket-required areas within the Alhambra fortress walls.
One highlight is the abandoned and unfinished Charles V Palace. He was the grandson of Ferdinand and Isabella. In 1526 Charles V initiated construction of a royal residence in Granada.
Charles V chose the circular Roman style and built it amidst the Alhambra fortress as a reminder of Catholic supremacy over Islam, not so much with the intent of actually living there. Not only was it unoccupied, it was never finished. Roofless until 1957, the Charles V palace now houses two museums. One is the Museum of Fine Arts, with the usual display of religious paintings and works, these of course by Granada’s master painters.
The other is the Alhambra Museum. Besting the various historical artifacts on display such as Roman columns is, in my opinion, the tile exhibition. The exhibition began with the mathematics used to design the diverse geometric patterns applied on the Nasrid Palace - and throughout the Islamic world. Then it moved through the techniques used to shape, colour and lay the small pieces of tile into vast fields of colourful walls.
As a fan of mosaic art, I was glad to have visited the museum. Though it did elevate my disappointment that Duncan would not see the Nasrid Palace, which I visited in 2009 with my sister Vicki and her husband Anil.
So, with zero expectations, I checked online again and surprise!!! There must have been a block of tickets turned in by a tour company as we were able to get in for Nov 1.
We happily marched back up the hill on Nov. 1 and with a greater appreciation for the laborious tile makers and setters enjoyed the Nazrid Palace, a site made famous through Washington Irving's book Tales of the Alhambra and featured in Salman Rushdie's book, The Moor's.