At first, the unprepossessing red building (“alhambra” means “red”) appears austere, but the sumptuous palaces within belie the exterior. Room after room is covered in scroll work and lattice etching that seem to cover every surface while the floors are an intricate mosaic of tiles. One of the main rooms in one of the palaces took thirty years to complete! Much of the scroll work was completed in molds, but the guide showed us many wall details that were carved by hand.
|Columns in courtyard near Court of the Lions.|
As our bus took us back to Torremolinos, David and I were grateful we'd been two of the three million yearly visitors to the Alhambra. It may indeed be gaudy and overdone, but it is also a truly beautiful place we were delighted to have seen.
David and I paid 55 euros each at a travel agent's office to have the Cost Africa company take us to Granada and the Alhambra. We were the only Americans on board, among a group from many different countries, so the guide had to repeat all his comments in five languages. At the Alhambra, our official tour guide used headphones to keep us informed, but he had to make all his comments in two languages—Italian and English. Because a Dutch guide was following close on the heels of our group and had his speaker turned to the same frequency, much of what we heard was a garble of Dutch, Italian and English. Ours is not an approach I recommend.
We wish we had ordered our tickets in advance or found a tour that was offered only to English speakers. Since Torremolinos has a huge British expat community, we are certain such tours can be found.