Saturday, October 24, 2015

Arabian Nights

I don't recall when I first heard about Alhambra but it has always held a special fascination. Because it is something that goes back to childhood, I was quite prepared to be disappointed.

But I wasn't. 

The Nazari Palace, especially at night, was magical and amazing. 

They allow a few hundred people in and the rooms are lit by one or two up lights, but it is still filled with shadows and dark. Amazingly, there are no obvious guards shooing you this way or hissing at you to keep back from anything. There is very little in the way of signs or explanatory info. I assume there are rentable audio tours in the daytime but it was perfecto to walk and marvel at the intricate and vast details of the walls and ceilings. I tried to imagine what it must have been to live there.

But even as we took them, we knew the photos would disappoint and they do. Some things simply cannot be captured. 

The opulence of the Spanish churches left me cold. The decoration of Alhambra was busy beyond words, yet didn't seem at all over the top because of the lovely, subtlety colored repetition. Looking at the tile work and designs, the planning, the geometry it must have taken, it brings home the fact that math came from the Arabs. 

They were brilliant in art, architecture, mathematics and what's more, they lived in peace with their Jewish neighbors in Spain, yet their time as a great civilization came to an end as well. 

No one lasts. 

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