The Arabic Influence In Granada, Spain

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The Arabic Influence In Granada, Spain

“Weep like a woman over what you could not defend as a man.” Mother of Boabdil- the last Sultan in Spain

The Moors invaded Spain in 711 AD and they ruled  for over seven hundred years.  At one time, they ruled as far north as France.   The principal cities of Moorish culture were Toledo, Granada, and Seville.  Eventually the Christian rulers in Northern Spain recaptured Spain. In 1085 Alfonso VI of Leon and Castile recaptured Toledo. Cordoba fell in 1236, and one by one the Moorish strongholds surrendered. The last Moorish city, Granada, was captured by Ferdinand V and Isabella I in 1492..

The word ‘Alhambra’ is a short form of the word ‘Calat Alhambra’ which is the name given to a palace and fortress complex located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain. The palace started off as a small fortress that was built in 899.

After years of neglect, the Moorish king of Grenada renovated it in the eleventh century. The fortress was to later be converted into a royal palace in 1333  by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada.

I spent a day there before so I did not tour again. It is big enough to spend at least a day but you can do the highlights in a few hours.

The area of Granada around the Plaza Nueva and fountain Pilar del Toro is the oldest part of the city of Granada. The Mosque was located here.

The Santa Ana church was built on that same site.  At that time the river would have been visible, not covered over like today. 

In the city center, the Alcaiceria stands out, like a typically Arabic souk (bazaar) that attracts many tourists and locals alike.

Glittery Moroccan lamps, colorful silk and leather products are fun to look at and buy.

Other signs of Arabic influence can be seen in the Albaci­n, one of the oldest areas in Granada. Perched on the hilltop across a canal from the Alhambra, it consists of steep cobblestone paths and quaint authentic white-washed houses known as El Carmen.

Arabic tea houses and Moroccan shops line the narrow street that leads up to the hilltop.

The perfect way to relax after a day, is to smoke some Arabic water-pipe (Spanish name is cachimas) in the dimly lit aromatic tea houses (teterias).  I wish that I had the photos to show you but here was the day I spent there. Not a person was out.

There were several bath houses or hammams  in this area during the Moorish rule. In 1567 due to the difficult situation faced by the Moors in Granada, at the hands of the new Catholic Kings, all hammams in Granada  were prohibited. They also banned speaking  in Arabic and wearing Arab style garments.

The current Hammam Al Andalas  https://www.hammamalandalus.com/en/ is in one of the old bathhouse buildings. It actually dates back to 8th and 14th century. This hammam building was converted into baker ovens in the sixteenth century. The bakers made the most of the heating systems which previously created steam and heated water, for baking their bread.

 As I enter the hammam I have the awkward ‘I forgot my bathing suit moment and it is coed and you have to wear one.” They lend me a bathing suit.  During my stay, I drink  green tea with mint, while  relaxing in the different thermal baths and steam room. As I walked through from the changing area to the baths the humidity and warmth hit me. This steamy comfortable environment is great for unwinding and relaxing tense muscles For a while, there was a quiet relaxed atmosphere and then a bus load of tourists showed up.

Luckily it was time for a wonderful scrub and a soapy cleanse with white frothy bubbles. I go into a different dry space  for a  massage and left completely soft, clean and relaxed.

The Hammam Al Andalus in Granada recreates the feeling of  history and the bathhouses that were  here so long ago. Book it in advance, it fills up quickly and is a wonderful way to capture the feeling old Granada.

Fly safe,

JAZ

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Things That I Have Learned In Granada, Spain

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Things That I Have Learned In Granada, Spain

“Like Spain, I am bound to the past.” William S. Burroughs

Granada was originally called Gárnata which could mean  “hill of strangers” in Arabic.

Granada was a Muslim Kingdom for almost 781 years, which is the longest culture to rule in Spain. The city was the last stronghold of Muslim Spain which fell to the Catholic Monarchs in 1492.

City symbol is the pomegranate which is logical considering that “granada” in Spanish means ‘pomegranate.’

Granada has 250 days of sunlight. Two of them were not while I was there.

Granada is home to 3 UNESCO World Heritage sites – Alhambra, Generalife and Albacin.

Almost 3 million tourists from all around the world visit Granada and the Alhambra every year.

The Alhambra Palace Hotel has incredible views of the city and “Selections from Don Quixote” in the room.

Reading the highlights of Don Quixote in Spanish in Spain was very cool.

In the Royal Chapel of Granada are the  sarcophagi of Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand, their daughter Juana and her husband Phillipe.

   At the time of the reconquest of Granada Christopher Columbus was looking for sponsors to fund exploration to discover the “New World”. The Spanish monarchs agreed and he went on to discover America.  There is a statue of Christopher Columbus kneeling before Queen Isabella at the end of the Gran Via de Colón in Granada. (His name in Spanish is Cristobal Colón).

Playwright and poet Federico Garcia Lorca was arrested and killed on the orders of right wing military authorities in Granada in 1936 according to newly released documents that shed light on the death of one of the highest-profile victims of the Spanish Civil War.

Granadinos are less friendly and lighthearted than the average Spaniard but that still means that they are more friendly than the French.

The gypsies arrived in Granada about 600 years ago and one of the places where they congregated was in the caves of the Sacromonte. The mixture of Arabic influence combined with the particular lifestyle and temperament of the gypsies created Flamenco. 

Mario Maya was one of the Spain’s most innovative and influential flamenco dancers. He was born in Córdoba in 1937, but grew up in the Sacromonte of Granada.

Munira is a great store to buy interesting souvenirs and gifts.https://www.munira.net

Granada has hot dry summer and cool winters. In July and August the temperature is often over fourty Celsius. . In 2017 several all time temperature records were broken.

The wettest months are November and December and the day in October that I had a walking tour of Sacromonte and the Albacin neighborhoods up in the hills. I had to make a deal with the taxi driver not to leave us in the pouring rain.

Watching the sunset and sunrise over the city against the Sierra Nevada foothills is really special.

 

Fly safe,

JAZ

Old World Palaces And Castles

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Palaces and Castles

“ And if she asks you why, you can tell her that I told you, that I’m tired of castles in the air “Don McLean (I love that song)

Castles and palaces are pieces of the past. They are evocative of the people who lived in them many centuries ago. They are rich in folklore and history and often built with astonishing craftsmanship and innovative design. Here are some of the palaces that I have toured. Many of these photos were before I was blogging so less palace and more look I was there shots.

Alhambra – Granada, Spain

fullsizeoutput_5ea7Buckingham Palace – London, England

Buda Castle – Budapest, Hungary (view near castle)

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Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) – Venice, Italy

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland

Neuschwanstein – Hohenschwangau, Germany

Pena Palace – Sintra, Portugal

Peterhof, (known as Petrodvorets and Petergof) – Petergof ,Saint Petersburg, Russia

Pitti Palace – Florence, Italy

Prague Castle – Prague, Czech Republic

Schoenbrunn – Vienna, Austria

Trakai Castle – Trakai, Lithuania.

Palace Of Versailles, Versailles, France

Fly safe,

JAZ

Things I’ve Learned In Spain

“ When Columbus started out he didn’t know where he was going, when he got there he didn’t know where he was, and when he got back he didn’t know where he had been. “                               anonymous

Things I’ve Learned In Spain

Two out of the three bullrings in Barcelona have been converted to shopping malls.

Don’t eat fish in Barcelona on Mondays because the fishermen don’t go out on Sunday.

Rebaixes and rebajas mean sale in  Spanish.

The security at the Alhambra was not the best. Twenty-one out of the twenty-two ruling Sultans were murdered.

When a bull kills a bullfighter, both the bull and his mother are killed. (bad genes).

Olive oil cures everything. If you are sick, it will make you well. If you are fat it will make you thin.  If you are short, it will make you tall.

Ole comes from the Moslem Allah is great and Hola comes from the Moslem come with Allah.

If you have no sense of direction, trying to find the Beaux Arts Museum in Seville during siesta time in 107-degree heat, is probably not a good idea.

Christopher Columbus was quite the wild and crazy guy.  Today, he would have been in the movie business.

Many great cities in Europe have a Jewish Quarter, where they have killed the Jews but saved their buildings.  Spain has them.

Las Descalzas Reales is a working monastery in the center of Madrid near the Gran Via and Puerta Sol. A large number of wealthy women seeking refuge from bad marriages in the sixteenth century joined the convent. It became one of the wealthiest convents in Europe with an amazing art collection. Despite the wealth, the sisters had taken a vow of poverty and by the mid twentieth century they were living in starvation among a sea of art. The state intervened and opened it as a museum. The tours are in Spanish and given by the nuns who still live and work there.  You can figure it out and understand words like Titian and Brueghels, while watching the nuns  tend to their vegetable garden. It is a very tranquil place in the midst of a very busy city

The effects of inbreeding can easily be seen in the Velazquez paintings of the royal family in the Prado.

No one really knows why Goya painted those “black paintings.”  No biographer really knew Goya. He was the painter of the court and the painter of the people. He had no rival in life. Were the paintings a result of the Spanish Civil War – a decade before? His deafness or serious illness?

It is always my first stop at the Prado.

Bullfighting can be watched on TV in Spain . The close-ups and slow reenactments of the bull being tortured and killed are quite gruesome.  I have questions about the Spanish culture. (Of course, the thick hot chocolate with churros for breakfast does make up for it)

El Rastro is the oldest and most crowded  flea market in Spain (Madrid).  Once home to criminals and rogues  , now it is just pickpockets. The Nineteenth century writers Hilario Penasco and Carlos Camabronero wrote “There in muddled heaps, appear side by side a militia uniform and a chipped crockery set, a portrait of the Duke of La Victoria, a carnival cape, a mantilla and an eighteenth century swordsman. Therefore, the father of the household, the amateur actor, the industrious wife and the antiquarian will always find  at the Rastro something that answers their needs to satisfy their pastimes.”

My thpanish is tho much better thinthe I have been here. (they lisp because the King of Spain had a lisp so they all had to speak like that-it stuck!)

You can make a meal of tapas ( best with Spanish sherry or red wine (tinto).   You can go around eating tapas  and then have  a big Spanish meal at 10:30 at night. If you walk into a restaurant before 9:30 you are the only diners and  clearly  tourists.

I love  going to La Boqueria in Barcelona ( the big fruit and vegetable market  ) on Las Ramblas for a light lunch  ( they do breakfast but i cant eat like that for breakfast) at Bar Pinoxto.

Antonio Gaudi was very short for someone with such a huge imagination.

The Church of the Sagrada Familia has been under construction since 1882 so don’t complain about your renovations.

Gaudi’s influence is all over Barcelona and if you are walking down a side street and see a house that looks like his, it probably is.

They have Museums of Ham in Madrid.  You eat ham even when you don’t know you are eating it or expect it.

One of my favorite modern art museums in the world is the Reina Sofia in Madrid.  If you only have time for one museum in Barcelona go to the Joan Miro Foundation on Montjuic and skip the Picasso (his early works) and MACBA.  I tell you this because I already made this mistake.

There are no words to describe the Mexquita in Cordoba and pictures don’t do it justice. It was originally the second largest Mosque in the world. In the twelfth century it was reclaimed by the Spanish and turned into a Roman Catholic Church. The blend of architecture is confusing and amazing. My personal opinion is that it is sad that both religions can’t use it because it is a history of two religions.

There are way too many Corte Ingles in Spain ( a department store like Nordstroms) as in, turn left at the Corte Ingles and then turn right at the next Corte Ingles.

Grathiath,

Viajen con cuidado

JAZ

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