Saturday, December 11, 2010

Taking photographs in the Alhambra–Best Places

Patio de los Arrayanes.This is quintessential Arabic architecture, the long and quiet perfectly rectangular pond gives you the same sense of purity and peace that gave the Nasrid Kings and their visitors. This is a busy place, every person who visit’s the Alhambra wants THEIR (that includes me as well) photo taken there. I if you really want to take those classic shots of the Patio of the Arrayanes with no people at all, all you need is patience, lots of it though. Let the mobs of tourists pass and eventually there will be few seconds when you will be able to snap it. An alternative is to shoot the pond reflection of the Nasrid Palace or ever the opposite side with the Palace of Charles V towering behind the doors. The day I went was raining and miserable so even when I planned this shot I could not take it. I settled for a photo with some people in it as you can see.

Bridge above the Patio de los Cypresses or Patio de la Reja. This is a connecting bridge built by the Spanish Kings after retaking the City from the the Moors in 1492. It joins the Tower of Comares with the rooms of the Emperor. It has two levels, both offering spectacular views of Albayzin, Sacromonte, Cordova Palace and the areas next to the River Darro. See here

La Alcazaba’s towers. They offer spectacular views of the Nasrid Palaces, its towers, Albayzin, Charles V Palace and Generalife. In addition to Albayzin and the Plazas next to the River. These ARE NOT to be missed under any circumstance. These will be unforgettable views. 

Tower de La Vela will give you a panoramic view of the city of Granada, you can easily snap the Cathedral and Royal Chapel, San Jeronimo Monastery and Church, Realejo neighborhood, main avenues of the City  and Plaza Nueva. These are fantastic views, so even if your feet and legs hurt by now do not miss them.Use your super zoom to frame something like this (at right)

Courtyard of the Partal and its gardens. Same strategy as the Courtyard of Arreyanes, use patience and you will be rewarded. There are 3 small windows with a view of Albayzin, I thought it was a great photo, it takes you to the times when the Sultan and his wives could look through these to see the city alive. 

Generalife new gardens are simply amazing and quite different from the grandeur of Louis XIV’s Versailles  or Frederick the Great’s Sanssouci which are so XVI century. The Moors combined lush vegetation, water, canals, marble fountains and symmetry to achieve unparalleled charm. I was fortunate to go in November so lots of the trees where turning yellow and many plants with leafs that look like maple turned red. On the flip side though, it is rainy season and it was cold and raining. I could not fully enjoy the time to think about compositions with water falling over me and my equipment. However, plan to spend some time here and delight yourself with the beauty of these magical gardens.

The highlight though is the Patio de la Acequia, a beautifully arranged patio with the classic Arabic rectangular pond being irrigated by 2 rows of water springs and surrounded by beautiful and colorful flowers. This easily explains why the Sultan was always hanging out here instead of the taking care of business in the main palace. He made (don't fool yourself, thousands of slaves did the actual work) this heavenly retreat that also hosted his wives (yes, he had more than one) so that he could spend most of his time here and let his ministers do the Court work. This is in my opinion the most beautiful place in the Alhambra,  could not stop staring at it and trying to figure out whether I could fit a mini version in my 22 feet yard. Well, see for your self  

Again, these were the places I liked the most, however, everywhere you look is beautiful, old towers with made with reddish stone blocks lots of cypresses and other trees, flowers and arches, gates, etc. I hope that this article help you in your visit.
Now, outside the Alhambra the best place is San Nicolas lookout. You can easily get there by bus and the view is spectacular. No wonder lots of granadinos go there to romance and admire this marvel. Here is a section of what you would see (it does not include Generalife).

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