view of the snowy Sierra Nevada behind Granada from the fort at Alhambra
We enjoyed our breakfast at the hotel, the croissants were small and So tasty, I must had 3 or 4 of them! Afterwards, we walked toward the Plaza de Bib-Ramba, next to the Cathedral (which was closed to the public today), so we settled for the Royal Chapel nearby. Well, not really settled, it is a fine sight to see, with the tombs of Queen Isbel and King Ferdinand. Above ground are the marble tombs with the Queen and King carved, lying peacefully on top. There were also the tombs of Philp the Fair and Juana the Mad (who succeeded Isbel and Ferdinand). Their son Charles V has his palace in the Alhambra. He is also known as Carlos I in Spain. His reign merged the Holy Roman empire with the Spanish empire. And his son Philip II built El Escorial and made Madrid the capital of Spain.
Alhambra viewed from the hotel roof in the morning
Anyway, so it was a big deal to have these important people entombed here. The real coffins were underground, take a few steps down and we could see them, not fancy, just plain coffins. There is also a high altar here, and a treasury with important pieces of history, sword of King Ferdinand, Isabel's prayer book, her jewelry box. No photos were allowed in there.
We also visited the old silk market Alcaiceria next to the Cathedral, a mass of narrow streets with shops, reminiscent of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, but smaller. The caravanserai site was small, and not much to see, I am disappointed to say. But the Plaza de Bib-Ramba was a large and lively square, with open air restaurant tables, clowns with balloons, people with strollers, kids playing, a very fun place to watch the world and people.
Plaza de Bib Rambla
Buildings around the square were colorful too.
We headed down the Calle Reyes Catolicos and at the intersection of Gran Via de Colon, is the Plaza de Isabel Catolica, with a statue of Isbel and Columbus. Then toward Plaza Nueva, and Plaza Santa Ana, where the local TI (tourist information) office was. We sat at the edge of Plaza Nueva for a little while, enjoying the nice day. Then we stopped at a restaurant, only remember its partial name Taverna Gasto??? de Sergio to have some tapas and a glass of tinto de , summer wine, light and tasty. Then we walked up the hill to the Alhambra again for our day tour at 4pm. Since we were here last night, we knew our way around, and went to the entrance of the Palace to get in line for the tour. To see the palace again in daylight was a different experience of course, but also we benefited from familiarity from last night, and enjoyed our time there more I think because of it.
Seats in front of the Cathedral for watching processions
We were able to see more clearly all the water features at the Alhambra. The ceilings were brighter in the day for better viewing. The walls and ceilings and archways were all incredibly beautiful, and detailed. Just imagine how much time it took to have all these details? There were windows where we could peek out and see the city of Granada
below, or Albayzin area across the Rio Darro. There were no furnitures in the palace now, so one had to use a little imagination to envision what it looked like when it was occupied with Moorish Kings and their harem.
After visiting the palace, we went to the Alhambra fort, and climbed up to for a great view of Granada and the snowy Sierra Nevada mountain behind the city.
the cathedral was not open
Then we walked through the gardens of the Alhambra, past the old medina (market) ruins in the Alhambra toward the entrance gate. Then we decided to walk to the Albaycin, the view point of St Nicolas to see what the Alhambra looked like from that famous spot. Supposedly Bill Clinton's favorite place from when he was a student visiting Granada and he made a point of bring his family here during his visit as president in 1997. Supposed to be one of Europe's most romantic viewpoints at sunset time, it was way too crowded to be romantic in my view. People were drinking and lying around, and it's party atmosphere. We found the next door Grand Mosque to be a much better, quieter place, and the view is about the same. So we staked out a place along the overlook and had some tea from the mosque's shop, and waited for the sunset! We stayed there until the sunset past 8:30pm and then headed down the Albayzin to look for our dinner.
We found the Moroccan restaurant Arrayanes, just as people were getting out of church and crowded the streets incredibly. So it was a good thing to be having dinner instead of fighting our way on the street. Even though it was an earlier dinner by Spanish standards. The dinner was different and interesting and also tasty! I really should have written down all the dishes we had that night since by now more than 2 months later, I can't recall all that we had eaten!
As we made our way back to our hotel, it was procession time again, and guess what, it ran right in front of our hotel (meaning we had a good location, but it also meant that we had to fight our way through the crowds, and waited for the procession break before we could get back to our hotel). Going through the crowd was definitely an experience. Since I got pick-pocketed in Athens 1 year and a half ago, I held on to my pouch tightly and emerged safely.