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A Day at the Alhambra

by Ashley Whitwell
A Day at the Alhambra | AIFS Study Abroad

I didn’t think I could possibly love Spain anymore. Every morning I walk out my door surrounded by the most amazing architecture. I go to school in buildings that are centuries old, and I’m surrounded by gelato on every street corner. EVERY. CORNER. Life can’t get any better.

Or so I thought.

This morning my group and I toured the famous Alhambra, which is a mere 10 minute walk away from my residencia. TEN MINUTES. I live ten minutes away from the oldest monument in Spain and that blows my mind.

A Day at the Alhambra | AIFS Study Abroad

“Alhambra” translates to the Red Castle and was built in 711 as a fortress on the remains of Roman fortifications in Granada. Now it’s a monument as centuries of war and changes of power has caused the demise of this great palace. Only 10% of the Alhambra still remains, so it takes a lot of imagination to picture the grandeur of the palace that existed a millennium ago.

Admiring all the details on the walls and the pillars and the ceilings enabled me to imagine a world ago, a world where the Sultan ruled and lived in this palace, a palace filled with life and rich colors and the opulence of royal life.

A Day at the Alhambra | AIFS Study AbroadA Day at the Alhambra | AIFS Study AbroadA Day at the Alhambra | AIFS Study Abroad

The Alhambra overlooks the Albaicín district of Granada, a Moorish district that survived despite invasions by the British and the French and the gypsies. Looking over the Albaicín you can use your imagination to create a vision of the Alhambra in its days of glory.

A Day at the Alhambra | AIFS Study AbroadA Day at the Alhambra | AIFS Study AbroadA Day at the Alhambra | AIFS Study Abroad

In the Court of the Lions (pictured above with the historic Fountain of Lions) we see where the Sultan and Sultana took residency. The Sultana’s quarters overlook the Albaicín as well.

There are three main components to depict a place of importance in the Alhambra: water, gardens, and architecture.  In all these courts, there was a fountain, an array of plants, and marvelously opulent architecture.  For most of tour, I was entirely awestruck imagining how the Alhambra must have looked in its prime.

A Day at the Alhambra | AIFS Study Abroad

A Day at the Alhambra | AIFS Study AbroadA Day at the Alhambra | AIFS Study Abroad

The last part of the tour took us through the Sultan’s summer palace, with views overlooking the rest of the Alhambra.  The gardens with the fountain were actually recently restored within the last century—historians dug through the dirt to find remnants of what plants the Sultan had in his garden when he resided here.

This was the cherry on top of a perfect first week in Granada.  There is so much history everywhere in this city, and I can’t wait to see what other treasures there are within this magnificent city.

This post was contributed by Ashley Whitwell, who is spending her fall semester with AIFS in Granada, Spain.

Spending a Day at La Alhambra in Granada, Spain | AIFS Study Abroad | AIFS in Granada, Spain

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