28.02.2018 /3: The Alhambra

The Alhambra (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2018

It was raining cats and dogs when we arrived to the Gate of Justice, through which we entered the Alhambra. Having earlier been at the Alcazaba in Malaga, we thought we had an inkling what to expect here. Well, we were wrong.

There was nothing that could have forewarned us about this place – we have seen the Alcazaba, we have seen videos in YouTube… even the first steps through the gate made us gasp. The artistry, the level of perfection of the architecture and the decoration – even in a meager gatehouse! Astonishing!

The gatehouse was basically a house in its own right, at least when it came to space. But even as the name suggested, Gate of Justice, it probably was meant to remind those coming to be judged, that the earthly rulers were powerful, but also that Allah, God, ruled supreme and your soul would have no hope unless you did good deeds.

And the same level of perfection continued inside the complex. As you enter the main complex area, to one side is the Alcazaba de Granada, and to the other side is the Alhambra, which is more like a small village than just a fortress or a palace on top of a hill. We didn’t have time to visit the Alcazaba this time, but we both were left with a feeling that the whole complex requires more time that we now had.

That is why we are going straight to the Nasrid Palaces, which I guess is the main attraction for most of the 3 million visitors each year. As the Alhambra is the most visited monument in Spain, entering the Nasrid palace complex is a timed process. So mind the time it says on your ticket; if it says 17:00, it means 17:00, not 17:10, not 16:55. If you miss your time – well, that’s sad. The groups entering the palaces are counted, and there isn’t any available spots for latecomers from previous groups. I believe that this has something to do with the crowd control as well.

(C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2018

Entering some of the palace rooms made us feel small, some of them made us gasp in awe, but all in all… the palace is a fantastic testament of a prosperous but bygone era! I don’t really have words to describe the place, it needs to be experienced! So if you happen to be in Granada, or actually anywhere in Andalucia, it would almost be a sacrilege not to visit this place.

(C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2018

After rummaging through the Nasrid palaces, we went inside the church, as it is conveniently located inside the Alhambra as well. This is actually one intriguing detail of the Alhambra in itself: when Granada fell to the Reconquista in 1492, the Christians didn’t destroy the mosque inside the Alhambra – instead they turned it into a church. The very same one where we were sitting and catching our breath after the magnificence of the palaces.

The Main Altar at the Church in Alhambra. (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2018

As we sat there, we pondered about the previous existence of a mosque there. And as we all know, even during the Moorish rule, the Muslims prayed towards the Kaaba in Mecca, and that direction is clear inside any mosque. So, would the Reconquista people have changed the way where they placed the elaborate altar?

So I decided to check the direction of the Kaaba from a nifty app I have in my phone…


And the result.. the altar had indeed been placed so that people praying there would be facing Kaaba as well as the Muslims had been prior to the conversion to a church.

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