Daily Archives: January 18, 2018

Granada, Part I

On Monday, the Porter’s group boarded a bus headed for the Sierra Nevada mountains. At the base of the mountains lies the city of Granada, which is also the Spanish word for pomegranate. The students did some reading on the history of the city, The Alhambra, and the Albaicín neighborhood to prepare for the trip. In the next two posts, you’ll see more from them about the overnight excursion!

Julia T: After the bus ride to Granada, our whole group checked in to the hotel and went out to dinner together. We all shared many laughs and enjoyed mostly American food for the first time in a while. That night, there was nothing that I wanted more than to go shopping in the city with my best friends, so we had a blast!

A mirror selfie of the whole group! Granada wasn’t ready. (photo: Julia T)

Caroline M: In Granada, we visited La Alhambra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The inhabitants changed throughout history, but in the late 14th century, the palace was the seat of the emirates during the last 250 years of the Nasrid empire. During their rule, Granada became one of the richest cities in medieval Europe. The founder of the dynasty’s lavish lifestyle was evident in many aspects of the palatial complex, from the intricate architecture to the breathtaking views at such high altitude.

We walked through endless hallways with windows cut out on both sides, providing many opportunities to enjoy the city’s scenery from a rare vantage point or to enjoy the fresh air from an enclosed patio. (photo: Caroline M)

Of the rooms we explored, some contained high ceilings with painstakingly carved decorations; others had arches and open ceilings that allowed for fresh air and a slight breeze. The castle’s riches, both material and visual, reflected Granada’s prosperity during its golden era.

Jess S: While walking through the Alhambra, I noticed the geometric art and design and was amazed by the colorful symmetry. Since these geometric patterns were everywhere around the Alhambra and the neighborhood, I figured they must have some religious and/or historical significance.

Aniconism is the word for the rule against images of people or other sentient beings in Islam. (photo: Jess S)

From research after the trip, I learned that the representation and depiction of people is discouraged in the hadith. Instead, artists and craftsmen created simple geometric patterns as art.

Yeda M: The tiles actually have scientific and mathematic significance. It was very surprising to me that the color in each tile was made of different materials. What a delicate construction! For example, iron was used for green tiles and tin was used for white tiles. Tiles were also created with other materials such as cobalt, manganese, copper, and lead, depending on the desired color. I was amazed when I realized the science, mathematics, and chemistry behind the construction.

Each ceiling and archway had a unique design, as captured here by Grace B.

Meg C: Granada was an Islamic city until the 15th century when it was surrendered to the Catholic rulers by Emir Muhammad XII, the last Muslim ruler in Iberia. When we visited, I noticed that on the walls there was a lot of Arabic writing.

Avery M: Most of the Islamic heritage of the site was covered up after La Reconquista and Islamic mosques were turned into Catholic churches. However, these carvings in the Alhambra show the true history of the palaces and other sites throughout Andalusia. (photo: Avery M)

After Granada was surrendered to the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, the Moors still living in Granada were forced out, but the Arabic writing in La Alhambra reveals the true roots of the palace that even years of reconstruction couldn’t hide.