Monday, February 11, 2013

Alhambra V--The Rest of the Place

After seeing all the big sights at the Alhambra (except for the Generalife, which was the leisure palace with gardens further up the hill), let's look at some more bits and pieces of the complex. Though surrounded by a fortifying wall, the Alhambra is more of a self-contained city, including the fort, the royal palaces, places of worship, some residential and some commercial areas. We could have easily spent a day wandering through all the nooks and crannies.

J on the path into the Alhambra

At the visitors' gate is a large touristy cut-out the likes of which my children love. So they posed for a photo.

Cheesy photo op

A long, tree-lined path leads visitors to the gate into the Alhambra.

Walking the path

Main visitor gate (part of the long curtain wall around the complex)

Just inside the gate is the Royal Water Channel, which brings water in from above and provides the fountains with fresh running water.

Running water, it's almost like a fountain

Water feeding into the Alhambra

Further along, we saw a large tower/gate that used to provide access. It's called the Puerta de Siete Suelos or Seven-Storeyed Gate, presumably because it has seven floors inside. We did not go in. The gate was built in the 15th century on the site of an old gate, but Napoleon's army blew the new gate up in 1812 when they retreated from Granada. The gate was rebuilt in the 1970s from paintings and descriptions.

Seven-Storeyed Gate (not so tall from inside the Alhambra)

View over the nearby wall

Just down from there is the Palacio Abencerrajes, helpfully translated on the visitors' map at "Palace of the Abencerrages." The legend goes that the Abencerrages were a family invited to a banquet in the 16th century at the Alhambra and were slaughtered at that banquet. No wonder their palace is now an archeological dig.

Their palace got slaughtered Napoleon's dynamite (haha!)

Right next to the Church of St. Mary is the Mosque Baths. The baths were used to purify before prayer (remember that the mosque was demolished to build the church). But they were also used just to get clean and to socialize. The baths date back to the early 1300s.

Baths entrance

The ceiling had star-shaped holes to let light in

Inside the baths

Outside the baths

Across from the Palace of Charles V is the Gate of Justice or Puerta de la Justicia. Built in 1348, it is the largest gate and has memorials to Charles V and Washington Irving. Inside the gate is a sloping floor that twists and turns through the gate, making it impossible for military forces to charge through speedily in attacking or defending the Alhambra.

Inside entrance to the Gate of Justice

Outside entrance to the gate

Washington Irving memorial fountain

The gate also has some nice bits by it.

J loved the waterfall

Cats of the Alhambra

The Gate of Wine or Puerta del Vino is a smaller gate since it separated the Alcazaba from the artisan and royal area. Troops were originally stationed there; now it has a couple of gift shops.

Gate of Wine does not sell wine, alas

View of Granada from the Wine Gate vicinity

We noticed on our way out that the street were designed with a small channel to run off extra water. The children loved walking along both sides of the channel.

J crosses the channel

L couldn't decide which side to be on!

We could have stayed even longer if we had the ambition, or seen the Generalife which is more of the same spectacular architecture and gardens. Do visit if you go to Granada!

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