Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Granada, Day One

Tuesday was a drizzly day in Granada but in spite of this we went on a "free" walking tour in the morning, "free" because the guides are not licensed and are generally university students or recent graduates who work for tips. So the expectation is that participants contribute whatever they feel the experience was worth at the end. In spite of the rain, it was a good orientation to this beautiful city, and we were privileged to be a small group of English speakers...rather than the 20+ in the Spanish speaking group. The guide whose nickname is Nono (for Antonio) is well educated with two masters degrees (HR and Tourism) and passionate about this city. We heard stories about how the "Callejón del beso " (the alley of the kiss) got its name and why there is ancient graffiti on the cathedral walls. (I shall leave you hanging, maybe until another post...)

The entrance to the 14th C "Corral del Carbon", so called because when the Christians took over the city, this building was converted into an inn for coal dealers. It was built by the Moors as storage for commodities such as grain and oil with accommodation for the traders above. It's undergoing restoration.

The cathedral is so large, and built up on its sides so it's impossible to take a photo of the entire building in one shot. This was built on the site of a former mosque, as with most churches in this city, and took almost 200 years to build. 

Inside it's completely white so very bright.  And very ornate of course...

...lots of gold filigree and oil paintings, most quite dark. We have seen so many cathedrals that we can now identify the subjects, and it's interesting to see how the same subject is treated by different artists, for example The Pieta (Mary holding the dead body of her son Jesus). In some images she is portrayed in a very pious and calm manner whereas in others she appears a little more desolate. Here's a door that caught my eye...

Attached to the back of the cathedral is the Real Capilla or royal chapel, built as a mausoleum for Isabel and Ferdinand, the Catholic queen and king who vanquished the Muslims and united Spain, plus their daughter Joanna "the mad" and her husband Philip and one of their infant children...all these bodies interred in lead caskets which can be viewed in the crypt, under the very elaborately carved marble sarcophagi on the floor above.

We visited a viewpoint for the Alhambra. Here is one of the few pictures that Lloyd and I have together!

Nono warned us about gypsy women who approach tourists with sprays of rosemary to offer a blessing and then solicit money...I later saw this happening...

Lloyd cooked a splendid dinner last night...pasta with tomato sauce. Yum! We actually had a guest, a young American woman who was on the tour, traveling on her own but currently living in France, so it was interesting to have a more dynamic conversation rather than just the two of us!

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