The official local guide who took us round the Alhambra in Granada in January 2008 was the same feller as the last time we visited – we could even remember parts of the patter. The place is still stunning: the large-scale restoration shows you what it would have looked like, and the (worn and damaged) original bits confirm it. In the Palacio Nazaries - the old palace - the exterior is fairly plain but the interior is profligate in that every surface is covered with abstract patterns made from stucco tiles and religious inscriptions in Arabic. The architecture is also very religious with references to the five five major tenets of Islam and - on the ceilings - the seven steps to heaven (in the throne room). In one of the buildings there are amazing stalactite-like ceilings. In contrast to the richness of the architecture and internal decoration the water features in the gardens provide quiet simplicity. But – as in Cordoba – the post-Moor bits added by the Christians - the Palacio de Carlos V for example - are intrusive and crude in comparison.
Our guide, Francisco noted that it only took the Moors 20 years to conquer Spain, and it took the Spanish 800 years to get it all back. Granada was the last Moorish city to fall to the Spanish crown in 1492.
We had lunch at the hotel next to the Alhambra and it was an interesting mix at our table: an Arab couple from Dubai, a black couple from California, a Slovak lady currently working/studying in Edinburgh and a Serbian lady working at the Marriott (and who spent much of lunchtime receiving calls on her mobile phone). Sheila played MC in bringing everybody into the conversation. The lunch was a little nicer than the lunch last time but apparently a new hotel was being tried out this trip and generally the feedback was good.
It was €61 each for the organised trip to Alhambra which made us think that our trip to Cordoba was quite good value as the cost of the hotel and the pricey dinner worked out slightly cheaper than if we had taken the official tour which would have been €62 each, and of course we had longer to take in the sights.
We took a coach trip to the Alhambra but there is a large car park that will accomodate motorhomes, although not sure if you can overnight there.
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