Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Granada - Home to the Fortress and Palace of Alhambra

There was a reason we specifically chose Granada as our first destination on this trip to Spain.  It is the home of a place called Alhambra.

A mighty Moorish fortress and palace that sits high on a hill looking over the city of Granada, with snow covered mountains behind it.  What a sight!  And one of Eric's favorite places we've visited while living here in Europe.  The walls and courtyards exhibit some of Spain’s finest examples of Islamic architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, although it has a long Christian history as well.  Much of what you see today was built by the Moorish emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar during the 13th century, but following the Christian reconquest in 1492, it became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella.  It is believed that Christopher Columbus received the royal endorsement for his voyage from within these very walls.  The architecture, the style, the layout – it is all so very different from other palaces, castles and fortresses that we’ve visited.  But the one thing it did have in common were the cats.  We have seen cats in the most interesting of places while visiting Europe, including inside the coliseum in Rome, and inside Alhambra was no different.  

In fact, there were many, many cats inside the fortress walls.  We were a bit perplexed at first as to why there were so many, but as Leah stood trying to make friends with a few, we suddenly saw the reason for the cats.   

We were standing outside a shop, still closed up as we had started our visit to Alhambra early in the morning, but as the owner emerged, opening the gate and doors to let the money spending tourists in, the cats came running from all directions.  Sure enough, we see him come outside with a bag of food which he scatters on the ground as he speaks in Spanish to the mess of cats swirling around his legs.  Later, we saw some of the cats being fed by some tourists as well.  They’ve picked a good home. 

It was cold and rainy the day we visited Alhambra, not the best day for sightseeing, but we enjoyed our time within the chilly walls anyway.  The design and decoration is stunning, as are the views of the city that sits below the fortress.  So without further ado, I present to you Alhambra – the palace on a hill overlooking the beautiful city of Granada.    

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