Saturday, 20 December 2014

Granada -- Views from the Miradors

All day Friday was spent traveling. We awoke at 04:00 to catch a 07:30 flight to Malaga, only to arrive at the airport to be told that our flight had been delayed until 09:00. With departure time fluctuating to as late as 9:30, we finally left at about 08:45. It seems the intended pilot had taken ill and so they’d had to fly a new one in from Italy.

This meant that we arrived in Malaga only an hour before Mum and Dad and so were able to catch the bus to Granada together. Arrived in Granada at 6pm-ish to the sun still shining which made a delightful change from the 4pm sunsets of Germany. Having lugged our wheelie luggage up several long and winding cobble stone stairs we found our apartment, unpacked, and headed back down the cobblestone streets in search of a dinner of Tapas.

Granada is very much the city of the Pomegranate. They are drawn into the cobbled streets, form the street bollards and adorn every street sign at least.


In fact, the pomegranate in Spanish is actually called the Granada (something I learned a few days later as I tried to explain the shock of their absence from a particular room I was viewing).

The following afternoon we hit the town. As Tegan and Andy had only just commenced holidays (and lost previous precious weekends to visiting us in Munich and Cologne) they needed sleep, while the rest of us settled in, did some emailing/blogging and washing.

Being situated half way up a hill we decided to keep climbing up and check out the views of the Alhambra from Mirador San Nicolas. Not one for taking a direct route, we just started climbing up the hill stopping when we came to a terraced garden/sqauare. From there, views one way were to the Alhambra with a very inconvenient roof in the way and the other way, hinted at an old city wall and a view point beyond.

With some resistance (because it meant going down when our ultimate destination was still up), we followed the wall round, before slipping though a gateway in the ancient wall to find a food market, complete with (unfriendly) pussy cat.

The second view point, from Mirador de San Cristobal directed us not only at the Alhambra but also across the old fortifications of the city (Murallas del Albaicin).

Heading back into the old quarters (the Albaicin) we wandered around the hill top, finding all the churches closed for the midday siesta. This part of the city is the Albayazin, an old part of town where it seems the Christians hid out when the Moors were in control, and where the Moors hid when the Christians were in control.

At the next lookout point, Mirador de San Nicolas there was the remains of a deconsecrated church dedicated to St Nick. This church was little more than a shell having been burnt several times, but the community was interested in restoring it to its former glory.

It was while we were here that Andy discovered Icecream which meant the rest of us decided we too needed Icecream, though we didn’t perhaps need to strike dramatic poses against the sun lit wall.

Going for something unusual and having already noticed the recipe on the wall, I chose Date blossom honey icecream, a creamy concoction with a decidedly blossom taste (orange blossom would probably work as well) and the occasional strong honey taste, with pieces of dates throughout.

We then meandered down to the river through more winding streets, past more pussy cats to take up another opportunity to sit in the sunshine at the foot of the Alhambra, this time with a beer and plate of chorizo.

Having re-energised we wandered back into town, via guys blowing bubbles which small children immediately popped, to the Royal Chapel and Cathedral.

Typically, there were no photos allowed within either so I had to take written notes and resort to the internet and bought postcards to illustrate them for you.

The royal chapel is ridiculously ornate, but it is the final resting place of Ferdinand and Isabella and as the city seems to be somewhat devoted to them it is perhaps understandable. Though connected to the Cathedral through a big wooden door, it is classed as a separate attraction, therefore with a separate entrance fee.


Between a painted wrought iron gate and the gilded high altar, centred in the middle of the floor are the tombs of Ferdinand and Isabella and their daughter (and successor) Juana with her husband Felipe and their nephew Miguel who died age two.  

Unlike most churches, the Cathedral is not a cruciform in shape. Instead it appears to be more square, with five vaulted aisles (each one roughly the same width) making up the width of the church. These are supposed on rows of columns. On each side of the central aisle, between the pillars closest to the altar were the massive church organs encased in gilded boxes with the pipes not only extending upwards towards the heavens but also outwards over the heads of the congregations.

Excluding the side chapels, the main body of the church was white, with a little bit of gilding on the organs as we neared the altar.

However when you got to the Altar the ratio was completely reversed; though there was still no colour, the amount of gilding had increased 100 fold resulting in very little white being visible at all. Only the ceiling of the dome was coloured, blue with gild stars. It really was an dramatic sight.

After visiting the Cathedral we wandered around that part of the city, enjoying the evening light (as opposed to sunsets at 16:00) before heading back to our apartment and then re-emerging to  grab a bite to eat.

*If you want to see pictures of the posing and food of the day, I suggest heading to Tegan's post instead.

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