Sunday, July 3, 2011

Returned from Spain in spite of hills and heat

Scott is in the foreground, Steve to your left, Cheryl in black; Madrid after a day of flying to get there.

Our trip really started in Grenada. Each of us, Scott, Cheryl, Steve and I chose one thing that really interested us and the others would go to with a cheery countenance or would decline to go so as to not mess up the experience. Luckily, we were all interested in each others choices. Mine was the gardens attached to the Alhambra. Steve's was the Alhambra.
Entrance gate to the palace.

Alhambra is an amazing Moorish Palace that has a history as old as a python is long. The architecture and inner gardens are tremendously beautiful. This is a building about power. The amount and type of ornamentation reflected how the ruler saw himself and how he expected the people to see him. Today, it is a public space, visited by so many people that a visitor needs to purchase tickets weeks in advance of their visit. Originally, only a relatively small group of people were allowed past the initial reception rooms.
One of the early reception rooms. The plaster work would have originally been colourfully painted up top. Today nearly all of the paint has eroded off the plaster and the only remaining colour is the stone and brickwork.
The system of buildings, passageways and servants was huge to support this palace.
The system of water storage and transportation to support all the water gardens, fountains, streams and maintenance is equally huge.

The tiles which are coloured using an encaustic pressing process remain strongly saturated, even in shadow.
There are fairly extensive grounds around the palace, which sits on a ridge overlooking the valley (in the mountains) in which Granada sits. Tons of hills and steps. Tons.
Details like this are everywhere.

After a fast snack/lunch, we proceeded the Gardens. This was my primary choice of thing to do and I seriously recommend that if any of you go, do the palace on one day, the gardens on the next. There is so much to see in each place that it was overwhelming, especially if you are a visual person. I love these gardens. There are some wonderful buildings designed to escape the heat, but still have very long views of the valley

or if you turn around, the interior gardens. Here the focus is on the water ways, close ups of plant groupings, shade, and silence. Even with a huge number of people tromping through the place, it was serene. The way the walls are built, the sound of the water echos and soothes.
Bird song, light breezes and soft voices make this garden a very energetic place to be, but also peaceful and beautiful. It has the kind of garden rooms and spaces that a garden nut or two will spend years reconsidering.

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