After Isabella and Ferdinand conquered Granada, Spain, they could turn their attention elsewhere. It was here that Isabella granted her support to Columbus for his voyages. This statue in the heart of Granada shows the explorer making his proposal before Isabella. (Story of the World, Vol. 2)
Another shot of the statue showing Spain’s Queen Isabella listening to Columbus’ plans for westward voyages. Husband Ferdinand may have helped run the army that drove the last Moors from Spain, but Isabella was “the brains of the outfit” and a great queen. The sculptor really captured her intense attention to Columbus. (Story of the World, Vol. 2)
Here we are in the medieval silk market in Granada. Silk was a precious commodity at the heart of royal Spanish wealth for centuries. The kings built this marketplace with narrow, easily guarded entrances in order to protect the valuable silk. What were market stalls now hold shops full of tourist knick-knacks. (Story of the World, Vol. 2 and Story of the World, Vol. 3)
Jim in Granada’s old silk market.
At the western terminus of the famous Silk Road, this souk was the place for mules or camels from the distant east to be unloaded, and for Spanish silk to be traded for other exotic treasures or gold. Carefully guarded, the place could be defended against bandits. (Story of the World, Vol. 2 and Story of the World, Vol. 3)
In the souk at the western end of the Silk Road. Imagine arriving after a journey of some months from North Africa, Arabia or even India! You and your pack animals would head straight for this water. (Story of the World, Vol. 2 and Story of the World, Vol. 3)
After dark, Spanish cities light up with the paseo, in which everyone walks about and visits. Here is a fountain in Granada at one end of a boulevard that is full of pedestrians visiting and heading out for a late night dinner.
Here we are inside the Alhambra. In a dry land, the vision of paradise was greenery and water. The Moorish kings diverted part of a river from high in the mountains and ran it downhill to their hilltop masterpiece. Notice the perfect placement of the tree in the middle window.
The American author Washington Irving (Rip Van Winkle; The Legend of Sleepy Hollow) was first America’s leading diplomat in Spain. He lived for a year inside the Alhambra before it was fully restored to its present glory, and wrote a wonderful book, Tales of the Alhambra. He looked at this ancient tree and speculated on the intrigues and wonders it had witnessed. (Rip Van Winkle/Gulliver’s Travels and Story of the World, Vol. 3)
Through this gate, the last Moorish king in Spain, Boabdil, left behind forever his “paradise on earth”, the Alhambra, after surrendering to their Catholic Majesties King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. (Story of the World, Vol. 2)
A plaque at the Alhambra remembering the sojourn there of the American author, Washington Irving, who wrote TALES FROM THE ALHAMBRA before he wrote THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW and RIP VAN WINKLE. (Rip Van Winkle/Gulliver’s Travels and Story of the World, Vol. 3)
The outside of the Alhambra was built for defense and, quite deliberately, not for beauty. The idea was that visitors would be that much more stunned when they entered and found themselves amid the Arabian Nights environment of palaces, fountains and gardens concealed by the plain walls. (Story of the World, Vol. 2)
At the entrance to Granada’s Royal Chapel, in which are the tombs of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, is this famous painting. It shows the last Moorish king, Boabdil (on left in black) surrendering the keys to Granada to Ferdinand and Isabella (on right in red and white). Boabdil started to dismount and bow before Ferdinand, but Ferdinand would not let him, honoring his former foe as a worthy adversary. Boabdil left Spain for Northern Africa after this ceremony and Spain was at last united and Catholic again after seven centuries. (Story of the World, Vol. 2)
The cathedral in Granada is Renaissance-style, all light and airy, in contrast to the heavier, darker Gothic style of Spain’s medieval churches. This is because it was built later, in the time of Carlos I, aka Emperor Charles V. (Story of the World, Vol. 2 and Story of the World, Vol. 3)
The beautiful “sky” dome in Granada’s cathedral.
The dome inside Granada, Spain’s cathedral.
The patron saint of Spain is Saint James/San Diego/Santiago (same guy, three versions of the name.) In many churches, he is shown as a mounted warrior striking down the Islamic Moor – a symbol of the Catholic re-conquest. (Story of the World, Vol. 2)
Inside Granada’s cathedral.. (Story of the World, Vol. 2 and Story of the World, Vol. 3)
A view of the Alhambra from across the valley in Granada, Spain. Sunset turns those walls orange/red.. (Story of the World, Vol. 2 and Story of the World, Vol. 3)
The Alhambra. Notice how the Christian conquerors made sure that the spire with the cross would dominate the existing Islamic section. (Story of the World, Vol. 2 and Story of the World, Vol. 3)
Our favorite Granada café at the edge of one of the plazas. In the evening, families stroll here while young couples look for shaded corners, there are balloon vendors and strolling musicians, and everyone stays late into the evening. Jim photographs and records his thoughts at this amazing site