We were up early, as we had 8:30 tickets to see the interior of the Nasrid Palace at the Alhambra. One must have a timed-entry ticket to enter the palace, and if you're late--no admittance! We certainly didn't want to be late, so we took the safe way to the Alhambra complex--by taxi from the plaza near our apartment. We'd probably get hopelessly lost if we tried to walk!
Of course, we were early. There were many, many people in line to by tickets, we were so glad we'd bought on the internet ahead of time--no long line to wait in!
The Alhambra complex is huge! It is made up of several palaces and residences, dating from the 13th-18th centuries. There are also many large and beautiful gardens throughout the Alhambra.
David just inside the entrance, at the Puerto de Vino! This building was used as a winery:
We did have a short line to wait in, along with other pre-purchased ticket holders, but it moved quickly.
The Nasrid Palace was built in mid 13th century by Muhammed I, and was used as a palace for Muslim royalty until the Christian conquest of 1492. It is amazing, beautiful, stunning--I've run out of words to describe it, so I think I'll just post the pictures!
After we'd toured the palace, we exited into the Palace gardens. The spring flowers were in full bloom:
The palace vegetable gardens, several were planted with spring vegetables, and others were ready to be planted. Each garden is surround by lush, manicured hedges:
From the Palace gardens we crossed a bridge over a moat, and walked along the old defensive wall:
We were now in a newer area of the Alhambra complex, The Generalife, built in the early 1300's by Mohammed III. This area was used as a "country" respite from the more formal Nasrid Palace.
These pictures are from the lower garden. There is nothing left of the original gardens, these were started in 1921:
There are pretty rose arches--kind of a "secret garden" within a garden:
After wandering the Generalife palace and gardens, we exited the Alhambra complex through the Oleander Promenade:
We had spent almost 4 hours at the Alhambra--what an amazing place. We definitely needed a little rest, so we stopped by a small cafe near the exit, and rested our tired feet and had a Coke Light.
Our plan for the afternoon was to see the Basillica de San Juan del Dios, a 16th century church. As it was on the opposite side of Granada from the Alhambra, we took a taxi.
The main entrance is now closed, and to visit the church we entered through a small side entrance. We weren't too impressed, but decided to pay the small 2E fee, and see the inside anyway.
WOW--what a surprise! I think this is the most over-the-top ornate church we've ever seen! Every square inch is gilded, carved, painted or be-jeweled!
There were only about 4 other visitors in the church, and the nice lady at the entrance came into the chapel and asked us to come with her. We were a little confused, but she mentioned something about "the tomb", so we followed along. She unlocked a small side door behind the altar and we climbed 4 flights of stairs to the Tomb of St. John of God. It is set under a dome behind the main altar, and it pretty spectacular!
We had about 10 minutes to look around, then she escorted us back down the stairway. Even the stairway was decorated--every square inch!
Wow--we were definitely running on sensory overload after that visit! We were also ready for some lunch, so after consulting our trust tourist map, we walked along the streets looking for a lunch spot. We finally settled on a small Moroccan restaurant. They had a "menu del dia" for 9 Euros each, and it was one of the best meals of our trip. We had couscous and a tagine, served with fresh hot pita bread and the most delicious humus. We enjoyed every bite!
After all our walking today (almost 10 miles and LOTS of stairs!) we really needed our siesta time. We walked back to our Crummy Little Apartment (ick) and relaxed for a couple of hours. My poor old knees needed a break, but after a couple of hours I was rested and ready to go again.
Neither of us felt like we wanted a full dinner tonight, so we decided we'd just wander our neighborhood in search of a small tapas bar and have a drink and a light snack. We ended up walking for blocks and blocks, but finally came to a big plaza with a few cafes along the sides. We couldn't understand most of the menu items (remember, my Spanish is a bit rusty!) so we just pointed to a couple of items, and were pleasantly surprised. We ended up with a quesadilla--well, it is Cinco de Mayo today! We each had a glass of wine and sat for quite a while, just enjoying the fun atmosphere in the plaza.
It was almost 10 pm by the time we got back "home", and we were both just plain old tired! We definitely had a full day today. Our visit to The Alhambra will be one of the highlights of this trip--it was truly wonderful.
I think we might sleep in tomorrow……….