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Alhambra - Updated

Worth the trip? Check the new note at the end of the entry.

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The Alhambra is on most lists of things you must see in your lifetime, and I am sure if we hadn't already been to Seville and Cordoba I would have felt the same when I saw it. The fortress is massive, the views from the top are unparalleled, the palace architecture and ornamentation splendid, and the gardens are glorious. Altogether, the Alhambra lives up to its reputation.
But even so...
Having just traveled in Seville and Cordoba, I could not help compare it with the alcazars in those two cities. Neither Seville nor Cordoba has the magnificent setting of the Alhambra, which sits above Granada like a crown, watching over it and providing views across the entire valley out to the Sierra Nevada.
Cordoba's alcazar sits in the middle of town, with only modest views, and was used by the Spanish Inquisition and thus has been extensively modified. Gone is the palace architecture and rich decoration. Even the changes the Inquisition made have been modified as viewing dozens of small cells for prisoners probably would not be the best attraction.
Seville's alcazar, however, has been well preserved, probably because it was built by a Christian king. Plus, through luck or restoration, it has much more of the color that originally covered the now white plaster, and while the plaster work is worth every second you spend examining it, color adds the dimension needed to appreciate what it once must have looked like.
As for the gardens, many of the Alhambra's are modern simply because Napoleon's army destroyed much of the grounds and a fair amount of the palace, not wanting to leave a fortress behind them. Only the quick reactions of the people of Granada saved the Alhambra from being completely burned to the ground. Meanwhile, Cordoba's gardens are a water paradise and as for Seville's, they are Dorne- what else needs to be said. (If the reference makes no sense, check "Game of Thrones.")
All in all, if I had to pick one of the three to revisit, I would choose to return to Seville's alcazar.
UPDATE:
For a far more complete set of pictures of the Alhambra, and frankly better photos than I took, go to:
http://jeffreygardens.blogspot.it/2012/03/tales-of-alhambra.html
He founds some places we did not visit that show aspects of the Alhambra that had I seen, might have changed my mind about which was more beautiful, Seville's alcazar or the Alhambra.

Posted by randjb 00:33 Archived in Spain Tagged alcazar seville alhambra granada cordoba Comments (0)

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