• Walking in Spain and Morocco: Individual Practice, Public Choreography, Cultural Meaning

A Tale of Two Hills: Alhambra and Sacro Monte

This post coming to you live from another drizzly evening in Granada! The rain in Spain falls mainly on...us, it seems. But we're all very glad to be away from the snow, and the rain can't hold us back from our whirlwind tour of this beautiful city! Lucky for us, yesterday was bright and sunny for our tour of the Alhambra.

The Alhambra is a complex located on top of a hill just above Granada, and its buildings seem the epitome of the intermingling of culture that occurred in this city. The oldest section, the Alcazaba, was the defense for the fortress and was built by the Muslims before the 11th century. The most detailed and perhaps most well-known (and beautiful) section is the Nasrid Palace, built in about the 14th century. The Alhambra also contains the Palace of Charles the Fifth, which was constructed starting in the 16th century. The neighboring summer palace, Generalife, was built between the 12th and 14th centuries. There are other, smaller (but no less interesting!) sites as well.

This hilltop complex, originally inhabited by the Muslims, enchanted the Spanish after their takeover of the city in 1492, and thus they took it for their own, preserving some of the original buildings and adding some of their own touches or own buildings here and there. The resultant complex represents an interesting marriage of cultural and architectural styles.

I think it's safe to say that all of us were struck speechless by the beauty and complexity of this place. The Nasrid Palace was particularly stunning with its intricately detailed walls, ceilings, floors...everywhere you looked a unique new pattern presented itself. The skill of the craftsmanship is astounding; it's hard to imagine how much work and attention went into making this palace so beautiful, but it definitely paid off. The palace was home to many gorgeous gardens as well-one can only imagine what it would look like in the summer!

This morning we set off a very different kind of adventure-our first hike! Making our way up to and around Sacro Monte was a nice change of pace from trekking around city streets. The hills around Granada are very picturesque, and we enjoyed our time among the pines. We briefly visited a church, then hiked three valleys over (aided by three cute little dog-friends who followed us to our destination!) to visit the Abadia del Sacro Monte, a monastery that has been used for many purposes over the years, though not what it was intended for originally. On our way down the mountain, we stopped in a museum commemorating the Sacro Monte caves, where many lived and still live to this day.

Sacro Monte was beautiful and we enjoyed our time in the great outdoors! It was an interesting juxtaposition, however, seeing the grand Alhambra in the distance next to the simpler cave dwellings and little settlements before us on Sacro Monte. A very different life.

We're back now and are quite tired girls, but we're all proud of what we accomplished today-quite a thrill looking out over such a breathtaking view of the city knowing it was your own two feet that got you there!

Thanks for reading! Adios!


Inside the Nasrid Palace
Sacro Monte
The Group at the Top of Our First Hill