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Al-Andalus, the Route of the " hammams "

THE HILLS OF GRANADA

"The Sabica is a crown on the forehead of Granada, in which the celestial stars aspire to get stuck. The Alhambra - may God be with the Alambra till the end of the time - is a ruby in the crest of the crown. Its throne is the Generalife: its mirror, the face on the ponds; its earrings are the aljofares of the frost" (Ibn Zamrak)

Our Guide remembers that everything in Granada is conditioned by the orography: the hill of Sabica, to which the poet has dedicated these beautiful verses, reachs the the summit of Alhambra and rises above the jewish neighborhood, the Realejo and the moorish of The Abaycín and The Sacromonte.

In the vega of the Genil River, is located the lower city, the most christian, In the distance, like an emblemátic natural scene, Sierra Nevada and the Darro and Genil Rivers, immortal witness that the water is source of life and history.

Granada was a large metropolis that welcomed muslims arrived from north and east of Africa, from Magreb, etc. and that had its time of splendour during the Nasrí(Nazari) dynasty, founded by Ahmar Ibn Nasr, the celebrated Abenamar of the Romancero. His Kingdom included the grenadine, almerian and malagan regions and partially the Jaen and Murcia regions. Despite of its precarious stability, during his reign were built magnificent palace - the Alhambra - mosques and numerous public baths, as sign of economic might.

It is precisely in La Alcazaba, the oldest part of the Alhambra, an authentic military fortress of the IX c. and advance party of the best palace in the muslim world, where we begin the journey of the route. This defensive castle, similar to a ship hull built toward the downtown, it is a collection of historical walls and remains of dependences of no utility, since the city was never besieged. Its watchtower was destroyed and later on reconstructed by Muhammed III. From the Torre de la Vela, we sight a fantastic general view of Granada.

In the accesses to the pavilion of the monumental collection, formed by the Nazari Palaces, the Alhambra and the Generalife, we find a crowd of persons. The billets acquired in some cases with a year in advance, students, people of medium age and even elderly persons awainting for the instant to know the interior of the enclosure and to contemplate this example of beauty and refinement. Maximum expression of the Muslim architecture. Decorative lights, shadows, shines and reflections united to the whisper of the fountains and ponds and to the perfumes of the gardens to create an atmosphere like that conceived by the nazari caliphs for their earthly paradise.

The walls of the Alhambra are filled with calligraphic decoration, in which we not only can read single "Only God Victorious" (sentence attributed to Zawi ben Ziri, of the nazari dynasty ) but poems wrote by poets of the court of Granada: Ibn al-Yayyab (1274-1349), Ibn to the - Jatib (1313-1373) and Ibn Zamrak, the three of them were in their days, secretaries of the real chancellery and ministries. Zamrak smiles: from some centuries ago, express with poems distributed by all the corners of the Alhambra, the cultural and artistic greatness of the Al Andalus.

Accompanied by this poet and visir, the journey is fascinating. With a succession of marvels that seem endless: The Carlos V Palace, a renaissance jewel, in the nazari world; the room of Mexuar that seems a goldsmith's work; the Patio of the Arrayanes, with its pond of mirrors and the enormous Tower of Comares that keeps its interior the Room of Ambassadors, the bigest one of the Alhama and the Patio of the Lions, authentic heart of the Alhambra.

The famous fountain, representation of living nature, surprise us if we keep in mind that it is an Islamic palace. The bowl rests on twelve lions and it picks up the water from the four small channels facing the four cardinal points. The fountain of white marble, is one of the most important samples in the musulim art. I. Zamrak shows us the edge of the fountain where he sculpted a poem noticing of the sophisticated system of supply and drainage.

We comment his interest for the water. And he remits us to his verses. The Palace of the Lions, his inspiration source. As example, the verses dedicated to the bowl of the Fountain of the lions: "Blessed who that given the iman Mohammed" or other "Is not here a thousand prodigies? "

Ibn Zamrak drives us from the north side of the Patio of the Lions, to the Room of the Two Sisters, to the Room of the Aljimeces and the Mirador of Daraxa, one of the corners of the Alhama more photographed due to its multi-coloured muslim decoration. Finally to the tower of the Queen's Hairdresser, inaccessible at the present and where there is a hammam. It was not possible to visit it, being closed due to restoration.



 
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