I first visited the Alhambra 14 years ago and I was suitably impressed by her majesty.
I have returned countless times since with tour groups and private clients and I hate to admit it but developed a slight “aversion” to the monument simply by association. I began to associate it with hordes of stressed, sunburnt and abominably dressed holiday makers, infernal heat or bitter cold, queues, terrible “bocadillos”, dry as the cardboard centre of a toilet roll for 4.80 Euros….until this winter.
This winter something has changed. The Alhambra stands as she has done for the last 700 years. Maybe I have changed. But this winter I have fallen hopelessly in love with the Alhambra and am once again captive to her charms.
One of the main factors of this new passion has been facilitated by a little trick I have learned, in being able to be almost “alone” in the Alhambra. Some hotshot Pharmaceutical guy paid thousands last year to be in the Alhambra “alone with his wife. I haven´t got his funds but I do have cunning. And this is what I have been doing.
Picking the quietest weekday, Tuesday. Choosing the least solicited time slot, lunchtime. And then waiting…
Waiting by the ticket control until all the 2.30pm visitors have filed through. At about 2.50pm I make my move. I have just 10 brief minutes before I will be caught up by the 3pm visitors and yet the 2.30pm visitors are way ahead. Last Tuesday I was in the “Patio de los Leones” by myself. Not for long…merely a few seconds…but enough to glimpse the glory.
In this way, I took clients to see the Alhambra in December. Wonderful human beings for whom travel is a search and a minutely planned investigation of the very best our planet has to offer; just what travel should be.
Their company was a pleasure from the moment we met on some country track near Casabermeja at 9am, and through them I am now looking at the Alhambra in a totally different light; their light.
John is a composer and as he entered into the series of palaces that make up the monument, as he passed from Patio to Patio, room to room, water feature to water feature, he began to hear music. This is what he wrote,
“The colors, shapes, patterns were ALIVE with LIFE. “Inanimate objects” imbued with spiritual inspiration. You DID inform us beforehand that the most elite, most dedicated artists and craftsmen created here. Through this art, we may be transported into a finer dimension. A private doorway. A secret path. The grandest curtains briefly parting. Revelation. They were metaphor AND beyond metaphor – a perfect helix, as energy is released, realized, absorbed, then released… like the breath. Movement without movement. Transcendental. Harmony, rhythm, melody, tempo and timbre. A song of the universe. THESE are the truest moments, when immortality seems possible, when we feel touched.”
Last week, I returned to the Alhambra once again, with John´s words firmly in my mind. I looked for his private doorways and sought out his tempos and timbres and I found them.
Seeing the Alhambra on a chilly but brightly sunlit afternoon, when the play of light helps you to understand the intricate design of every opening, archway and every star set in symmetry, led me to a place of blissful calm.
Colours hummed with melody and the rhythm of the scene was marked by the perpetual trickles of spring water passing over marble. In today´s fast moving world, we rarely give ourselves time to just sit and watch the shifting shadows as sunlight fades.
If you aren´t doing anything on a Tuesday before the beginning of March, give us a shout and I´ll be glad to take you for you to see for yourselves the marvel of this Memory Palace that holds very gracefully within her walls, everything that was beautiful about Al-Andalus.
Contact us for more information about visiting the Alhambra and Granada, if you would like a tour of Granada have a look here for more information. Thank you to our friend Laura for permission to use the photographs she took whilst on tour with us