Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Tiles of the Alhambra

Just got back from a short holiday in Almunecar, on the Costa Tropical, which included a day trip to beautiful Granada (a name I've associated for forty-something years with gritty northern TV). I don't usually give travel tips, but here's one for the Alhambra, one of the most sought-after European monument-type destinations. You basically have to book ahead, but the online booking is not very easy. If you should find yourself with an imminent visit to Granada and no ticket, go to the Granada tourist information website and buy one of their tourist cards - I think they're called Bono Turistico - which entitles you to several bus trips, free admission to the alarmingly grand cathedral (and other sights) and a visit to the Nasrid Palaces (the masterpiece of Moorish architecture that forms part of the much bigger Alhambra) at a particular time. These are available even when the Alhambra tickets are sold out, but are more expensive.

I know there are pictures of the Nasrid Palaces all over the internet, but the tiles just knocked me out, especially after researching Peggy Angus. She always said that tiles last well, and these have been on the walls for centuries, and have survived invasion, occupation, attempts by Napoleon's troops to blow the buildings up, etc, etc. Lots of info about the Alhambra and its astonishing decoration here.

Some of the tiles seem to be translucent, but they're just painted

The designs are full of life - this one reverses in and out as you look at it

These tiny tiles are set into the floor - I saw them around Almunecar as well, even in our apartment...

The colours are so strong...

Footnote: Granada was the last Moorish outpost in Spain, which fell to the forces of Ferdinand II and Isabella in 1492. More than 300 years later American writer Washington Irving rented part of the palace, where he collected the material for 'Tales of the Alhambra'.


  1. It's fabulous. And so is the Mezquita at Cordoba. I am so taken with Moorish Spain. You should go back!

  2. You have just broken my heart! I wanted to visit for over thirty years but my partner had been long before tourists had been told to invade it in such numbers. Now we no longer have the physical ability to manage so thanks for the images.

  3. Yes, Granada always makes me think of the rather depressing theme tune to World in Action (and I'm sure there's a bingo hall or two called The Alhambra), but it's a wonderful, extraordinary place. I love the tiles, which made Charles V's later contribution look very dull.

    I was lucky enough to visit the palace at Seville a couple of years ago and visited during a late opening, when the grounds were relatively free of bumbag-sporting tourists.

    People always wax lyrical about Florence, but I much prefer Islamic Spain.

  4. Thanks for your comments, all - I avoided the Charles V bits as I thought they probably would be quite dull. Next stop: Cordoba. Coline, I'm glad you enjoyed the images - Steerforth, maybe see you in Sussex this summer, will send you an invite for Peggy Angus launch at Towner...