I just made a second trip to southern Spain. It had been over forty years between visits, and I had no idea what – if anything – I might remember. My first trip was with my high school Spanish Club. We were all young, and boy were we excited to be able to drink legally for a change!
In an earlier post I wrote about my spatial memories in Granada. At the Alhambra I had strange wavy recollections of reflecting pools and intricate walls.
To visit the palace rooms of the Alhambra is like stepping inside one gigantic extended scrollwork of interlocking geometric design.
I can remember loving the symmetry. I sure don’t remember any specific part of it. As I say, my memories are a blurry recollection of warm stone walls with ingenious decorations. Just… an impression of a harmony that contains a hundred thousand details you will get lost in once you begin examining the space more closely.
Southern Spain is frequently the hottest region in Europe. At the peak of summer, it stays oppressively hot (100°F and above) and very dry. We visited Andalusia at the very end of September/start of October, and the temperatures were still in the 90s. You seek relief in rooms with the latticed windows that let in light but not heat. Or you walk in the walled gardens.
Water, water, everywhere…. The former Islamic rulers built a sophisticated system of fountains and pools. Those fountains were designed to include the sound of flowing waters, and flowers and fruit trees were planted to delight the senses with their perfumes.
Memory returned vivid and at the same time somehow distorted at the Alhambra palaces’ innermost courtyard spaces. Only those wonderful carved lions at the private fountain were just as I remembered them.
And those were more than enough to make me very, very happy.
“In the present day, when popular literature is running into the low levels of life, and luxuriating on the vices and follies of mankind; and when the universal pursuit of gain is trampling down the early growth of poetic feeling, and wearing out the verdure of the soul, I question whether it would not be of service for the reader occasionally to turn to these records of prouder times and loftier modes of thinking; and to steep himself to the very lips in old Spanish romance.” ― ― Washington Irving, Tales of the Alhambra
NOTES:  Washington Irving is a lifetime favorite, beginning with my childhood: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow! Rip Van Winkle! I’d forgotten that he stayed and wrote at the Alhambra in 1829, when it was a neglected ruin. Now, that’s artistic inspiration. © Jadi Campbell 2017. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.
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12 thoughts on “Andalusia Memories 2: Alhambra Walls and Water”
Ah the Tales from the Alhambra, imagine Irving taking lodging at the Alhambra when it was an off-limits place! A favorite of mine as well, about Spain. I particularly enjoy reading about the Moor period of Spain, and everything about old travels in Spain from Richard Ford’s A Handbook for Travelers in Spain, to James Michener full of personal anecdotes, Iberia, and Cees Notebaum semi mystical pursuits.
Thanks for these lovely posts 🙂
Wow – thank you for the reading tips – I’m adding them to my book wish list!
Very enjoyable photos. Thank You.
Uwe gets all the credit for the photos. Glad you enjoyed them!
I like the connections here between your reading experiences and your own Spanish impressions.
Thank you, Arletta. I looked for Washington Irving quotes, and the first 2 I found were perfect…
Oh, such beauty! I would love to go!
The harmony of the spheres in a wall tile…
How glorious to find oneself in that garden in any season, but it looks so inviting in your photos. I had no idea Washington Irving had ever been in Southern Spain.
I ‘used’ to know that fact in college. It was wonderful to meet up with him again, 200 years after his visit
Oh, that stunning Washington Irving excerpt! I always loved his most famous story, but for some reason never pursued anything else; I definitely will be doing that now. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your lovely revisitation!
It blew my mind to see the drawings and photographs of what a deserted ruin the Alhambra was when Irving resided there. Really, really evocative and romantic.