Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Taking photographs in the Alhambra - Part I

Once I decided to go to Spain, I knew that I had to go to Granada to visit La Alhambra Palace. I read “Tales of La Alhambra” by Washington Irving when I was a kid, so I always had that mystic notion of La Alhambra.

  Just the name made me think of rich and colorful fabrics, luxury, intricate Arabic designs, semicircle arches, doors and gates with round top, etc.  Ok Let me stop wandering and get to the main reason of this article, which is to provide you with information regarding taking photos there. Information that I COULD NOT find before I went there . I have grouped this info bits into sections to help you navigate to what interest you the most, I will publish them at different dates because the illustrating photos need to be worked on.
Rules of Engagement
Alhambra Tickets : It is STRONGLY advise to purchase the tickets online as much in advance as possible. 
You should know that you can ONLY enter the Nasrid Palaces in the 30 minutes indicated in your ticket, there is no flexibility on this and no negotiation. These Spanish clerks seems to be educated in Germany and are strict as any German could be.

One big nuance, I thought that you COULD ONLY BE THERE for 30 minutes, that's inside the Nasrid Palaces. The fact is that once you are inside the Nasrid Palaces you can stay as long as you want. Well, that was not easy to find out, I thought that this ‘stay as long as you want’ only applied to the rest of the ticketed places e.g. Alcazaba and Generalife.
Just by chance, I got into a conversation with one of the guards who told me, which is one of the great advantages of speaking Castilian a.k.a Spanish. it was a great relief because having more time allows you to enjoy the wonderful details of the rooms and the charm of the Arabic designs of the time.
The Patio de los Leones is under renovation (10 years in the makings by now, see photo at right) so forget about the classic fountain with the 12 white marble lions.

Spaniards take things slowly when comes to work, they have been restoring these for about 10 years, so it will be a while before they put them back (ever heard of the "mañana, mañana" culture). The actual lions restoration has been completed and place in a small round room for display. You get to admire these beautiful medieval sculptures but NO photographing is allowed, a concept  which it seems that its taking over all museums around the world. So, snap until government bureaucrats over the world ban us from photographing what belongs to all of us in the first place.

I choose to go in the morning session because it gave me from 8:30 to 2:00 pm which is longer than the afternoon session. We were there at 8:00 am, got in at 8:30 and we left at 3:00 pm ONLY because I could barely walk, we clocked more than 11 kms according to my GPS tracker starting and finishing at the Plaza de Isabel La Catolica. 

The place is a dream…

There are few places where to buy bocadillos which is the Spanish version of a sandwich but a lot better since they only know one type of ham, that is Serrano or Iberico (similar to prosciutto but better). I did not know this, so we secured supplies of bocadillos, chorizo, cheese and water for the day. You can only eat in designated places like Gate of the Vino (at right)  where you can also purchase all kinds of coffees with sugar, that means there is no coffee with NO sugar. Aren't they sweet? I thought it was funny.

Stay tuned, next section on what equipment to bring…..

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