The Alhambra

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.

~Henry David Thoreau~


It is finally summer in Dunedin. Hot and sweaty, though not everyday. Yesterday was a bit chilly. I could say summer is quite a rare phenomena in Dunedin. And when it happened, for some reason this summery feeling reminded me of Spain. How nostalgic.

I went to Spain in June, when summer was at its peak. Spain has so many historical sites, and one of them is the infamous palace built by the Moorish emir, Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar, in the mid-11th century. It is categorized under the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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It was a day trip from Cordova to Granada. Departed by bus, the journey took more than 2 hours. In Granada bus station, I was greeted by Anne, my private tour guide. We went for a historical walk around Albayzin for a couple of hours, before going to the Alhambra in the afternoon.

The tour started with a visit to The Generalife. It is said to be the summer palace for the emirs (Kings). The palace is surrounded by beautiful gardens.

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The garden had undergone some restorations, and one of the restorations includes the water fountains. I was told that there were issues related to this. Some preferred the restoration to follow the original design of the fountain, where its purpose was to provide peacefulness through its soothing sound.

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The other design was focusing on strengthening the beauty of the garden. The latter was built, adding the nice touch to the garden but lose the reason why the fountain was built in the first place.

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From The Generalife, I headed to the palace. After centuries went by, the palace is still standing, proud and elegant. Its structure. Its architecture. The scripture written on its wall. I don’t have to be an engineer or an archeologist to be amazed by it.

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And there’s the Courtyard of the Lions, the main courtyard of the Nasrid Dynasty. At the center of it, the Fountain of Lions can be found – a fountain surrounded by motifs of 12 lions. It functioned as the water network that used to supply the palace with water, and also as a clock where the water would flow out from the lion’s mouth depending on the time (1 o’clock, 2 o’clock, etc).

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The system broke down after the Andalusia downfall, and another news stated that the Spaniards spoiled it even further when they tried to learn operating this impressive system.

The Alhambra is definitely worth the visit. Given a chance, I would love to come back to this amazing place.