Alhambra - Qsar al Hamra

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July 1st 2008
Published: July 1st 2008
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Morocco - Spain

It was exciting and scary to leave the familiarity of Morocco behind and cross the Straight of Gibraltar to a country I've never visited before. On the boat I thought a lot about the people who swam across, trying to get to a better life.

Merhaba f GranadaMerhaba f GranadaMerhaba f Granada

Moroccan hospitality followed me to Spain and Latifa showed me around town and took very good care of me.
After Morocco I thought it would be best to start off my travels in Europe with the last stronghold of the Muslims in Spain. I took a boat from Tangier in the evening and took a night bus from Algaciras to Granada. The boat was interesting and I chatted with some Moroccan women on the way over. I saw a couple other foreigners, but practically everybody on the boat was Moroccan. After customs I found the bus for Granada, which was also completely full of Morccans. The bus got to Granada a bit earlier than I had expected - it was about 4am Sunday morning and I had no idea where to go to wait until it got light. Fortunately one of the other two women who got off the bus in Granada was very nice and invited me to go with her to her brother´s house until it got light out.

Latifa is originally from Errachicia, like Maryam, and is also part of the Alaoui family. It´s a small world. Latifa´s brother lives here in Granada and I ended up spending a couple days with them at their apartment, which was very close to the center of town. After

The Alhambra complex is very large and there are gardens and different castles and hemmams and so much to see. The whole place is up on one of the hills overlooking the town of Granada and the valley. This photo is only a small part of the Alhambra itself.
two nights I decided I should go find a hostel so I wouldn´t be dependant on Latifa to get in and out of the apartment. Moroccan hospitality apparently is just as strong in other countries and Latifa and her brother were very gracious and welcoming, asking me to visit them any time in Granada or Morocco.

On Saturday night, after my first full day of wandering around the city, we watched the World Cup game at the apartment. It was a tense game but Spain was obviously winning the whole way through. After the game was the fiesta - Granada exploded and everybody was out in the street celebrating. People were all wearing red and singing and dancing in the streets waving the red and yellow Spanish flag. We went to the central plaza where people had swarmed the fountain and statue in the middle and turned the entire plaza into a pulsating, singing mass of red and yellow. It was a beautiful and very joyous sight.

The next day, though we had been out until at least 2am celebrating, I got up early and headed up the hill above the city to Alhambra. This was the main
Reflecting PoolsReflecting PoolsReflecting Pools

The central courtyards have pools exactly like the other palaces I´ve seen in Morocco. Some parts of the palace were changed by the invading Spainards but many parts have been left exactly the same.
reason for visiting Granada and it was well worth it. The Alhambra is the Spanish name which comes from the Arabic Qsar al Hamra, which means Red Castle. ( A kasbah is a fort, not a castle).

I wandered through the Alhambra for several hours, marveling at the mix of Arabic architecture and the newer European additions. It was beautiful but I couldn´t help feeling a little homesick for Morocco. (My dad´s going to analyze this and say I experience too much longing for other places).

As I was about to exit the castle and begin exploring the gardens I met a couple Brazilians and ended up finishing my visit of the Alhambra with them. I love traveling alone, but partly so I can meet new people. Plus it´s useful to have somebody to take pictures with me in them.

They wanted to buy some souvenirs from Morocco, which I was surprised to find can be bought here. I told them they really should just go to Morocco, but I know not all tourists have as much time to wander as I do. We strolled through some of the little alleyways that are filled with Moroccan shops
Moroccan TilesMoroccan TilesMoroccan Tiles

The tile patterns in parts of the Alhambra are exactly the same as the ones in the stairway of my apartment in Kelaa.
and I had a fun time chatting with the venders in Arabic. It was a little dissapointing that they wouldn´t bargain, but I understand that the culture is very different here and most Europeans want a price tag on what they´re buying. Bargaining must not be a part of the culture here as it is in Morocco.

It was another late night out on the town but I made it back to my hostel without any problems. Granada isn´t too big and it´s easy to walk everywhere. I already know my way around quite a bit of the city. The hostel where I´m staying is very central and the building itself is built just like an old riad in Marrakech. You can look at pictures of it at

I´ve visited several other touristy places in town, but nothing compares with Alhambra.

Additional photos below
Photos: 13, Displayed: 13


Mixed MediaMixed Media
Mixed Media

The plaster work is what gets the most attention in the Alhambra - and it is beautiful and very extensive but there is also beautiful wood work and tiles.
Faded PlasterFaded Plaster
Faded Plaster

All the detailed plaster work in the Alhambra used to be painted in bright blues, reds and yellows but it faded long ago and restoration work has been focused on other parts of the palace. Arabic inscriptions praise Allah´s richness.
Mixed CulturesMixed Cultures
Mixed Cultures

This plaster work on the ceiling shows typical Arabic designs and script but above are some lions and other very European designs.
Building on TopBuilding on Top
Building on Top

This wall at the entrance of the Alhambra has the Spanish crown on top of the Arabic plaster designs. The Arabic script is the same as in most places in the palace, praising god´s richness.

On this column you can still see some of the original painting that used to decorate all the rooms.

The gardens surrounding the palaces are so extensive, I could spend days walking around them. The Arabs made a very comprehensive irrigation system to keep the whole place green in the summer. It´s very hot and dry here.

The pools were very deep. I stuck my foot in among the fish to see if I could touch the bottom, and decided there is no bottom. One of the Brazilians, Paulo, is in the background.
The BraziliansThe Brazilians
The Brazilians

Felipe is on the left and Paulo on the right. They spent a semester studying in Spain and are travelling around before they go home to Rio.
Moroccan QuarterMoroccan Quarter
Moroccan Quarter

Moroccans don´t really have their own barrio here but there are a few streets with tea shops and halal restaurants and shops with souvenirs from Marrakech.

1st July 2008

you're spending a lot of time in cybers, eh? tbark allah on the blog postings. so my question is, where's the photo of the tower which is supposed to be in the same in the school as the Koutoubia and the Tour Hassan II??
2nd July 2008

Can't believe you were in Spain for the big victory! Lucky!

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