Wednesday, August 06, 2014

August 6, 2014 -- The Catholic Monarchs, Granada, Spain

I visited the old part of Granada today including the resting place of the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabel. I also made it to the Alhambra and saw almost nothing of it, because it is soooo difficult to get a ticket to get in.

First, I took a city bus to one of the historic parts of town where the streets are so narrow that today many of them are only open to pedestrian traffic. In the days when the streets were laid out, the widest vehicle likely to pass down one of them was the occasional horse-drawn cart.

Of the remaining buildings in and around Granada, most of the very old ones were originally built by the Moors and later modified by the Catholics after the Moors were conquered in 1492. Granada was one of the last Moorish strongholds in Spain. Both of these cultures put a heavy emphasis on religious buildings, and it is amazing to observe the results of the work that was put into the old churches. Can you imagine carving with hammer and chisel all of the intricate stonework in the picture below and making every piece in a series look exactly the same when viewed from the ground?

I not only photographed the outside of the church, I also went inside and (briefly) attended mass. There was a bad echo inside the church, and with my old man's hearing loss, it is difficult for me to understand speech when sounds are coming at me from different directions. I could not understand the priest, so I didn't stay long. Nevertheless, it was the first time I had attended mass in years, and like the last time I attended mass in Phoenix, this mass was in Spanish.

The next stop was the nearby cathedral, which has been turned into a museum, because it's the final resting place of los Reyes Católicos or the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabel, two people who had a tremendous influence on the Western World. It was they who finally drove the Moors out of Spain and united it under their rule and imposed the Castilian language on the whole country. They sent Columbus to find a way to reach the East by sailing west, and his voyage led to the Spanish colonization of much of the New World. The regional language of Castile became the Spanish language and came to be spoken by hundreds of millions of people from the US-Canadian border all the way to Tierra de Fuego.

It was strictly forbidden to take photographs inside the cathedral, and there were guards watching everyone like a hawk to make sure that no one made unobtrusive use of a cell phone camera. I stole the following two pictures from another Website, but they show what my two pictures might have looked like.

The first picture shows the crypt as it appears from above. Ferdinand and Isabel are depicted much larger than life in marble reposing in eternal sleep.

At the front of the crypt is a narrow staircase that leads one floor below. At the bottom of the staircase, the visitor looks through a glass window into the crypt's interior. Ferdinand and Isabel lie in the two lead caskets in the foreground. To the sides lie the caskets of other family members.

After I left the cathedral, I took a bus out to the Alhambra. There was nothing to see from oitside, as the Alhambra is on a hilltop and surrounded by trees and high walls. The advance tickets are sold out through next week, and there were hundreds of people standing in line hoping to snag one of the tickets reserved for daily sale. There was even a long lime in front of the Ticketmaster machines for future purchases. I tried yesterday to snag a ticket on the Ticketmaster Website, but it was so overloaded with users that I made no progress. The following picture shows the only glimpse I managed to get of the Alhambra.

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