Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Another Twentieth Century Flashback

The Alhambra
Watercolour and ink
©1996 Charlene Brown
April 5, 1996 was a perfect day to see the Alhambra... and I discovered, after a one-hour climb from the Granada train station to the palace gate, that literally thousands of others thought so as well. (It happened to be the Good Friday holiday, which may have had something to do with this.) A sign at the head of the long queue just inside the entrance warned that tickets on sale at that time were for admission to the Moorish Palaces at 1400 hrs. By the time I’d climbed to the top of the queue and worked my way down to that point again, the ticket I got was for admission at 1630 hrs. I hadn’t waited so long to get into anything since Expo ’67 in Montreal!
There was lots to see as I waited for my hora de entrada to the Moorish Palaces, including the walls and towers of the oldest part of the Alhambra, the Alcazaba, from the Arabic al-qasba, the fortress.  There is a theory that the Alhambra came by its name, again from an Arabic word, al-hamra, for red, because of the colouration in the stone used to construct it. But I prefer the explanation that, in their haste to fortify the position, the original Muslim conquerors were forced to work by the red glow of torchlight. Present day visitor have no such constraints, of course.  I had all the time I needed to sketch the all-encompassing view from the watchtower – the courtyards, and roof-tops of the palaces, up through gardens and olive groves to the peaks of the Sierra Nevada.