Monday, 6 January 2014

Here are some photos I took from the Alhambra when I was there. I had exhausted the battery of my main camera during the Día de la Toma commemoration, so I had to take these on my iPad.

Granada is surrounded by mountains. This is what made the final capture of it difficult. In fact, in the end, it was surrendered. Perched on a hilltop, it would not have been easy to take by storm. Looking out from the parapets, it's easy to see how the Muslim rulers could have deluded themselves into believing they could hold on to it, and easy to understand why they would have wanted to. The cloud-wrapped mountains all around, the sunlight streaking across the towns and villages underneath, must have inspired a fairytale feeling of dreamlike omnipotence and secure repose in the minds of the Muslim potentates.

I went to the Nasrid Palace, too. This is only a small part of the complex but contains almost everything that most people bring to mind when they think of the Alhambra. I read in a book about Alhambra that it was actually better to see it at night because it had been designed for nocturnal residence by the Muslim rulers, and you didn't get the proper aesthetic effect during the day.

Quite a few people have said it is the most beautiful building in Europe, or even the world, but I'd say they're getting a bit carried away with their Orientalist, European self-flagellation tendencies. The surface ornamentation of the building is extraordinary, no doubt, but its actual macro design isn't really anything special. And somehow, that seems symbolic of these corrupt oriental civilisations generally, indicative of why we would always have surpassed them. The rulers engross everything to themselves; ordinary people don't matter; the individual has no importance or freedom; the public sphere is irrelevant; only the interior furnishings of the despot must be made perfect.

I also find it interesting that the only surviving example of a Muslim palace from the peak period of Muslim power is in Europe, not the Middle East.


Maria José said...

Pancartas con lemas como 'Este país de blancos mata negros'

La manifestación por el joven malí desaparecido deriva en incidentes

Contenedores de basura volcados, lunas de coches rotas y amagos de agresión


Anonymous said...

What few people know is that the Alhambra was built on the backs of one of the biggest slave populations known in Europe since roman times. Further, it was built to accomodate the pleasures of one man while he indulged himself sexually with his 200 or so girls and his more than 800 boys. Was it any wonder that Catholic Spain was outraged and rose up and turfed him and his lot out.

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