THE ALHAMBRA PALACE
Hands up who thought The Alhambra was a theatre in Bradford? Well of course it is (I took my dear lady wife there on her birthday this year) and a very good one it is at that, but The Alhambra Palace in Spain is an entirely different prospect. For me, it’s one of the most stunning complex of buildings in existence. You can see that straight away from the picture I’ve posted as my banner to celebrate the fact. When I went there in 2006 it blew me away and I rate it every bit as highly as The Colosseum in Rome as a must-see experience. To start with, just look at the setting.
The fact is, you simply cannot visit Andalusia and not go to Granada to see it. The American writer, historian and diplomat, Washington Irvine, described Granada as "a most picturesque and beautiful city, situated in one of the lovliest landscapes that I have ever seen". We'll return to Washington Irvine a little later, but I'm sure you'll be forced to agree with him as you look at some of these fabulous images of the palace itself.
The name Alhambra comes from el-Hamra, meaning 'the red one' and when glimpsed in the light of the setting sun, you can see why. I hope my pictures show this because what The Colosseum gives us in power and grandeur, The Alhambra gives us in beauty. And far better than I could conjure up in words, why don't I just let the pictures tell you the story?
Besides being a building of great architectural beauty, The Alhambra is also a reminder that Southern Spain was once ruled by The Moors, a Muslim race, and it was not until 1492 that the country was reconquered (La Reconquista) by the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand of Aragon and Arabella of Castile. (Some of you may recognise these names as those of the leading goats in Feria!) Hollywood has tempted us to think that the liberation of Southern Spain was achieved by El Cid but that was in fact some 400 years before although in much the same tradition of Spanish nobility.
The Alhambra is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and rightly so. The Moorish poets described it as 'a pearl set in emeralds' and 'paradise on earth'. And whilst we take what poets tell us with a pinch of salt, it's certainly the closest thing I've seen. It moved Washington Irvine to write his famous 'Tales of The Alhambra' which I see is available as a free download from Amazon. If you're planning a visit, why not take it with you? Why not take Feria too? From the sublime to the ridiculous - literally!