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One of the most brilliant jewels of universal architecture is the Alhambra, a series of palaces

and gardens built under the Nazari Dynasty in the 14th C. This mighty compound of buildings,

including the summer palace called Generalife, with its fountains and gardens

stands at the foot of Spain's highest mountain range, the Sierra Nevada,

and overlooks the city below and the fertile plain of Granada

                   

Above - We walked up to the entrance portal from the city, passed through

and continued the journey up to the Alhambra.

                   

Generalife - The lush and gorgeous gardens of the Nasrid kings, the expansive

Generalife is the finest set of Moorish style gardens in Andalusia, positioned on a hill

situated at the rear of the complex overlooking the Alhambra palace.

                   

The palace and gardens were built during the reign of Muhammad III (1302–1309)

                   

Within you'll find beds of colorful flowers, more exquisite architecture,

leaping fountains and cool shade.

                   

 In medieval times the gardens would have contained fruits as well as flowers.

Today plants are selected for their aromas and color.

                     

The present-day gardens were started in 1931 and completed by Francisco Prieto Moreno in 1951.

                   

Below - middle, Ruins of the Palacio de los Abencerrajes, destroyed in 1812

                  

Below - middle, Palace of Charles V

                   

Below - Alcazaba Fort

                    

The Palacios Nazaries is actually a complex of palaces. It immediately strikes us as being very different.

                             

To enter the royal palace is to enter another world. The palace was built mostly

in the 14th century and is quite well preserved. The colors on the walls have faded

and it is necessary to try to imagine what this place would have looked like filled

with brightly colored carpets strewn with exquisite cushions,

wall hangings, curtains and stunning wooden furniture.

                   

Palace Mexuar - Decorative wood ceilings, detailed stucco walls

                   

Below - Hall of the Ambassadors, which is the largest and possibly the finest room

in the entire Royal Palace. It is a perfect square, and has an exquisite wooden

ceiling which contains more than 8000 cedar pieces in a pattern of stars

that was meant to symbolize the seven heavens of Islam.

                   

                   

Below -  The Court of the Myrtles has a rectangular pool, with two shallow fountains

splashing lazily at each end. The pool itself is the central feature here.

 Stand at either end and you will see the buildings magically reflected in the water

                   

                   

The feeling of intimacy, and airiness reaches new heights in the Court of the Lions,

the most romanticized part of the palace. The difference between this courtyard

and that in Charles V’s Palace could hardly be greater. This small, rectangular space

has often been called a “paradise.” In the middle there is a fountain whose basin

is mounted on twelve stylized lions, from whose mouths the water

passes along four channels to each side of the Court.

                   

The Hall of the Two Sisters is an exquisite visual tour de force whereby the circular

cupola is transformed into an octagon, which in turn metamorphoses into a square,

thanks to the clever interplay of muqarnas and arabesque. If we stand by the small

fountain immediately below the cupola and look up, the impression we get

 is that of an exploding star cascading outwards

                   

The ruins of a massive fortress perched atop the crest of the hill overlooking the city,

this is the oldest part of the Alhambra and offers some of the finest views of anywhere

in the complex, with an expansive panorama from the top of the prominent tower

that gives you a spectacular view of nearly the entire city.