Fortress and Palace

The Alhambra in Granada is both fortress and palace – and, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a custodian of memory, Spain’s rich history and the history of civilisations physically embodied in tiles and script, archways and gardens, the quiet flow of water and ceilings that mirror the star-studded sky. It is magnificent.

No matter that parts of it are crumbling, that the historic site has been witness over the centuries to a few ill-judged renovations and repairs, that the flow of tourists is endless and unstoppable. The Alhambra is one of those living monuments – poised imposingly above the town, with elevated views that must have uplifted sultans and kings – that you simply have to see, at least once in your lifetime.

A photographer’s Alhambra

The Alhambra, also, is a photographer’s nightmare and dream. A nightmare, because there is simply so much of it to see, to learn about, to interpret and photograph, so many rooms, gardens, structures, passageways, arches, hallways, histories, legends – and because getting a clear view is almost impossible in the endlessly milling throng. A dream, because the Alhambra manages somehow to be both magnificent and poetic, delicate and monumental, brutal and sensitive, all at the same time.

This first series of images shows something of the monumental side – if you will, Alhambra The Fortress.

Water to cool and delight

Much as you will enjoy the sheer monumentality of battlements and walls, the views over the parapets of Granada, far below, you should take time too to absorb and appreciate the smaller details – the colour and geometry of small enclosed gardens, the use of water – as in the two contrasting images below – to cool and delight, the myriad details.

Take time for the details

In this last set of images, it is the details I have focused on – pushing them, where I can, to a state almost of abstraction, of pure pattern: a creative impulse, I’d like to think, that the sultans would understand.

Ode to Spain

If you’ve enjoyed this post, you might enjoy some of my other posts on our travels in Spain, including posts on Madrid, Sevilla and the pueblos blancos, not least the wonderful little town of Ronda, where we enjoyed an evening of the most marvellous flamenco.

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