An early morning start, as we set off for Granada where we planned to stay overnight. When the Romans colonised southern Spain, they built their own city here and called it Illibris. The Arabs, invading the peninsula in the 8th century, gave it its current name of Granada. It was the last Muslim city to fall to the Christians in 1492, at the hands of Queen Isabel of Castile and her husband Ferdinand of Aragon. Granada’s most well-known attraction is the Alhambra Palace, so called because of its reddish walls (in Arabic, («qa'lat al-Hamra' or الحمراء = Al Ħamrā'), which means Red Castle).
The Alhambra represents one of the most brilliant jewels of universal architecture. It is a series of palaces and gardens standing at the foot of Spain’s highest mountain range, the Sierra Nevada, and overlooks the city below and the fertile plain of Granada, the Vega.
Built under the Nazari Dynasty in the 14th century, this mighty compound of buildings – including the delightful summer palace, the Generalife, with its fountains and gardens, was the residence of the Muslim kings of Granada and their court, but is currently a museum exhibiting exquisite Islamic architecture. The Alhambra is number 38 on the Wonders of the World listing.
This was probably the most obvious study element of the trip. We had two excellent guides who were incredibly knowledgeable about the Moorish conquest of Spain, Islamic history and culture, and the history and architecture of the Alhambra itself. I think everyone came away feeling incredibly awed and lucky to have seen one of the most magnificent buildings in the world.