The Spirits of the Vanquished in the Alhambra

The grounds of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain are impressive in every way. They are indescribably beautiful, of course: a visual delight in terms of architecture, flowers and stunning views.

A famous saying attributed to a Mexican poet, Francisco A. de Icaza, who fell in love with Granada, declares that there is no worse fate than to be blind in Granada.

I would say an equally punishing fate would be to be deaf in the Alhambra. The sounds there, above the hectic modern city below, draw you into another era. The wind, birdsong and bubbling water, coupled with the historically significant and obviously ancient surroundings, powerfully evoke the past.

Everywhere you turn, you hear the water trickling, dripping, or splashing, and you stop to look for the source; it may be as simple as a fountain or a spigot, or as complex as handrails along a staircase with water running down a narrow trench in the middle of them.

The Palacio Nazaríes was the royal residence of the sultans that ruled Spain near the end of Moorish era. If you stop and listen, you can feel the spirits of those ancient Moors. The continuous echo of flowing water that comforts and relaxes me now, in the 21st Century, also quieted their minds as they fought to hold onto the kingdom they had built.

Enmeshed in the sounds of babbling water and singing birds, I hear the rustling of long white robes as the thirteenth and fourteenth century Muslim men sweep past. As I wander through the tiled and ornately carved passageways, I sense them walking beside me, behind me, gliding slowly along. They pause when I do, listening to the unending music of the water, the wind and the birds. They are everywhere, these conquering men, now defeated and long dead, but present nonetheless. They fled, a vanquished army, but their souls are still on Spanish soil. They left them in the Alhambra.


About Sunny

I'm an American with a Spanish heart, and one foot in France. But both feet are in Belgium, along with the rest of me.
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2 Responses to The Spirits of the Vanquished in the Alhambra

  1. Lovely post. We’ve been twice, once in December and the second time in June. Far too many people in June 😦 it’s a beautiful site though and I really enjoyed visiting it again – briefly – via your photos and videos. When we went in June it was pretty hot, around 40 degrees, and there was still snow on the Sierra Nevada. So strange.

    • Sunny says:

      This was my second visit, too. It was about 30 degrees, so hot but not unbearable. And less crowded than I expected it to be. The patio de Los leones was being renovated, though, so was not its normal self, and Carlos V palace was being used for the flamenco festival, so was not nice. Still a moving and beautiful visit though.

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