Monday, December 04, 2006

The Archer goes to the Al Hambra

This weekend as my last major hurrah in Europe, I flew to Granada, Spain, to see the Al Hambra, which is a Moorish palace/mosque/walled fortress in the plains near the Sierra Nevada mountains.
This is the view from the airport. Yes, that is a palm tree and, yes, those are snow capped mountains in the background.
As I was walking to the Al Hambra, I came across this interesting vignette. The top floor are life size statues of the Nativity with the bottom being real life shoppers. Wise men bringing gifts, and shoppers buying gifts. There are just so many sermon topics here, I am not going to begin to commentate. I passed by the Arabic spice market. It smelled delicious. (sorry, smells just don't translate into bloggery.)I walked past this fountain, one of many in the city. Apparently water was a fixation for the Moors. The entire Al Hambra is on a hill top, with a fountain at the top that drained all the way down to the bottom along trenches.
You make your way up the side of the mountain to get to the Al Hambra. You can see from this picture, the strategic viewpoint of the mountain. You can see the entirety of the plains between the mountains, including the entire city of Granada.
So, here we finally come to the AlHambra palace of the Moorish Sultan. Granada, the final Moorish holdout, was finally conquered by the Catholic Monarch of Spain in 1492. 1492 was a big year, the last bastion of the Moors were finally driven out by hook and by crook, the Jews were expelled from Spain, and all this new booty financed a certain sailing escapade "on the ocean blue."
Here is the main palace and Mosque. I got a great shot of the reflecting pool.
This is the interior ceiling (one of many) of the mosque. It may be hard to see from the photo as its all 3 dimensional, so I am including this side view. This is directly under it, looking up. Its almost dome like. Again, it loses so much in a 2-D photo, but looking directly up, this is the Islamic depiction of heaven with God (Al'lah) in the center, with the seven firmaments surrounding it.
This is an addition, built by the Christians on the back side of the Mosque above. You can see the cross and the fountain with statues of dogs holding it up. A very clear insult to the Islamic Moors, as dogs are unclean, and the cross, well, you know.
This is the Sultan's private palace on the other side of the Al Hambra city. Its much simpler, and you will notice the gardens, which in Medieval Islamic understanding, paradise and heaven would be life in a beautiful and eternal garden.
A garden like this for instance is proof of Islamic geometric gardens, reflecting the divine order.

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