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Photos from the Alhambra and Mezquita

You may or may not know this about me: I’m kind of a religious studies buff. I remember, waaay back a long time ago, when I first learned about the Moorish conquest of Spain that began in the year 711 as the Moors made the journey up from Morocco. I remember reading about the Mosque they built at Cordoba and hoping that one day I’d make it there.

Mezquita
The Mosque (Mezquita) at Cordoba

Really, the Moorish conquest of Spain and the spread of Islam were all I knew about the country’s history. I had learned that Mezquita in Cordoba and the Alhambra in Granada both stand as testaments to Moorish power, architectural and artistic ability. This period of Spanish history still simultaneously draws me in and takes me back to those days as an undergrad when I first contemplated how religion has changed and shaped the world over the centuries. So here was my chance to see if these places lived up to the hype I’d built in my mind.

But enough talking. This time I really just want to show you photos (with some information in the captions).

The Alhambra

Looking out
The Alhambra is a palace and fortress complex first built in the ninth century.
Arches
The Muslims held control of the fortress until 1492 when they surrendered it to Ferdinand and Isabella.
Windows
Catherine of Aragon lived here until she moved to England to marry Henry VIII.
Reflection
Pools throughout the complex reflect the architectural elements.
Columns
Marble columns in the Court of the Lions support delicate and detailed filigree carvings.
Flowers
Images of people are forbidden (shirk) in Islam, so they create symmetrical patterns and calligraphy instead.
Verses
Thankfully the monarchs spared the Islamic art and intricately carved verses from the Qur'an.
Tiles
The tile work at the Alhambra served as inspiration for the artist M.C. Escher.
Generalife
Located on an outlying hill, the Palacio de Generalife overlooks the Alhambra fortress.
Fountain
Pumping in water for the many fountains was a remarkable achievement of engineering.

The Mezquita

Outside
The mosque is considered one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.
Cathedral
The building was converted to a Cathedral in 1236, with a church built in the center.
Corridor
Spanish Muslims have recently lobbied for the right to pray here again, but their requests have been rejected.
Tunnel
Striped arches form a tunnel effect.
Forest
The forest of columns attracts more than 1.5 million visitors each year.

So the question remains: Did these places live up to the hype after all? Yeah. Yes they did.

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