Tales of the Alhambra

2014-07-02 20.11.34Last week I went on a road trip. Well, two. The first to Gibraltar (more on that later this week) and the second to Granada to see the Alhambra. On the road trip to Granada I road alone in the back seat, headphones on prepared to take in the scenery of the drive through the Spanish countryside.

Honestly, as the road twisted along I began to feel slightly lost. Not in a 'google maps is down' type of way (which it was being so far away from anything but farm land and small villages) but more so, lost in a thought of memory and perception.

Basically this: I wondered, when you get so accustomed to something, something that's so incredibly stunning, can you still see it for everything that it is? Or do we get used to something and stop noticing it's depth and maybe... forget?

I sat back, quieted my inner chatter and reminded myself to let my eyes soak it in and to embed it in my memory like a child would. To remember.

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As we drove closer to Granada I could feel it's spark. The mountains rose taller, the lush green was deepening, the architecture that I've become familiar with here in Spain lead into the grounds of the Alhambra.

Then, there it was: the architecture of the Alhambra is like nothing I've experienced and the grounds are massive. From the baths to the monastery, to the gardens, pools, and the fortress and then, of course, the palace... it took a full day of wandering to see it.  The canopies, archways and arabesques, and the detailing in the calligraphy, as I took it in, the depth of it was clear. No one could forget this place.

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Washington Irving described* it as the "most picturesque and beautiful city, situated in one of the loveliest landscapes that I have ever seen." Moorish poets called it "a pearl set in emeralds."

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As the day rolled on, I snapped photo after photo, but the beauty of the place is one that needs to be seen and touched in real life. At the end of it all I sat down for a beer at a little cafe directly outside the palace grounds and knew that it was a day of a lifetime.

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The Alhambra was built during the Muslim rule of Spain as a small fortress in 889. It was reconstructed in the 11th century and then became the palace of the Sultan of Granada. It was a home to artists and intellectuals taking refuge from the Spanish Christians during the Reconquista and the fall of Granada. The history of it is extraordinary, with so much literature, music and art inspired by it's beauty.

*The title of this post comes from Irving's Tales of the Alhambra - a collection of essays and stories. Irving lived in the palace while writing the book and was instrumental in reintroducing the site to Western audiences.

**What I wore: Scarf (Loomed NOLA, hand woven in Turkey, this scarf has gone absolutely everywhere with me on this journey), Palazzo Pants (vintage), Sunnies (Elizabeth & James), Bag (Botkier c/o Neiman Marcus Last Call), Birkenstocks (on repeat)