Malaga, Granada, Alhambra

I can’t tell you anything about Malaga. We docked here this morning only to take a bus to Granada. Granada is from where in the 12th – 15th centuries, the kingdom of Alhambra was ruled by sultans. Today, the amazingly well preserved glorious palaces are open to the visitors.
Usually, I don’t much admire Islamic art and architecture, it being somewhat repetitive for me, but this complex is a truly unique jewel of Arabic artistry. Especially, considering that it is 800-900 years old. 12th century Moorish architects and artisans were brilliant!
First, the location on the hill had to be carefully selected to afford the breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains and quaint villages on the hills. Many windows and promenades of the palace were designed to frame these views to augment their visual effect. Second, the rooms and courtyards were perfectly proportioned to create intimate and cozy spaces without taking away from their grandeur.
The interior walls combine traditional tiles with molded alabaster designs and are topped with  inlaid wooden ceilings. The tiles retained their brightly painted designs but the alabaster lost its vibrant reds, greens, golds, and blues, and is mostly cream-colored now. Personally, I think, this draws attention to the beautifully molded shapes without the distraction of color.
The Moors were rather accepting of the Jews, ”the people of the book”, and they flourished in Moorish Spain. One of the sultans even had a Jewish vizier, whose “modest” gift to the sultan, a marble fountain surrounded by 12 lions representing the 12 Jewish tribes, is still standing in the throne hall of the palace.
When queen Isabella’s troops defeated the Moors and pushed them back from Alhambra to North Africa, the queen decided to clean out the country of all non-Christians and the Jews were also expelled. Only, they had no place to go, no place to call home. Thus, Sephardic Diaspora was born.
Of the other tribes, the gypsies, who came with the Moors, were allowed to stay as they accepted Christianity, and they lived in the caves above Alhambra. The guide placed the blame on the gypsies for stealing some of the palace’s treasures, including one set of heavy carved wooden doors, which were allegedly burned in a bonfire.
I am sorry, I constantly revert to the Jews! There are so many remnants and reminders of Jewish life here, I can’t help it.


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