We decided to do a day trip from Sevilla to Granada so that we could see the Alhambra, another Unesco World Heritage site. When we initially booked the trip it said it left at 7 am which we thought was early but totally doable however 3 days before the tour we received an email and text informing us that we had to be at the meeting point at 5:55 which meant we had to leave at 5:30 – no bueno as the Spanish would say. The tour organization went downhill from there; fortunately the Alhambra was absolutely spectacular so we were still happy about the decision to spend the day there.
The Alhambra is not just a palace, cathedral or castle but an entire city. It was built over 800 years ago and the first thing that was built (and that we saw) was the water supply system which included a water wheel, aqueduct and the gardens surrounding it that are fed by the wonderful water system. It was first built by a Moorish Sultan who came from northern Africa so water was not only important for life but also a way to display his wealth and importance. The gardens were absolutely beautiful but the best part about them was their fragrance. There was jasmine and honeysuckle growing everywhere – they were definitely the best smelling gardens we’ve experience thus far!
Granada means pomegranate and thus there were also many pomegranate trees growing everywhere. After visiting the gardens we walked by a hotel, which for a meager 750 Euro a night you can stay within the Alhambra (our tour guide assured us that breakfast was included). Our next stop was the Royal Complex, which is the youngest structure in the complex and was built as royal residence but never actually used as one. It is now a museum and occasionally used as a venue for opera due to it’s wonderful acoustics – they were setting up for a concert while we were there.
The next thing we saw were the ruins of the Medina (or old city where the craftsman lived) and the living quarters for the elite soldiers and their families. One of the things that was unique is that there is a hammam or Arabic bath. Because Islam requires one to wash before prayer and bath before entering a mosque not only the royal court but even the every day man bathed at least once a week. At this time in history most Europeans were bathing maybe once a year therefore many illness and plagues did not affect Granada the way they did in other areas of Europe.
Our tour saved the best for last and we finally got to see the old palace of Alhambra and the ceilings were absolutely unreal – they looked like ornate caverns. Now they are mostly white or tan but you can see remnants of color and they most definitely were painted in various vibrant colors. The windows also used to be all of stained glass but unfortunately only one remains. Another cool feature was the courtyard with the lion fountain – each lion is slightly unique.
After our 3 hour tour we got a chance to visit Granada but due to the inefficient running of the tour it wasn’t very long so we had to hurry to grab a super late bite to eat and then we took a taxi up to the Saint Nicholas view point but it was worth it!
We got back to Sevilla and packed and relaxed. The next morning before our flight we were able to go to the top of a view point and see the city one last time.