The Alhambra: Colors and patterns

From yesterday’s post, you would think the Alhambra is all pale stone and gleaming serenity. But in reality, it’s full of two of my favorite things: color and pattern!

The most eye-catching surfaces are tiled with rich colors, and the Nasrid Palaces are full of them.


Alhambra tiles and leather chair

I’m loving these many-pointed stars; I’ve been obsessed with stars lately and this is an unusual way to do them.



Color and pattern are everywhere: on the walls, ceiling, floors, doors, windows. I can’t be sure, but it almost seems like no two patterned surfaces are alike.



Even without much color, the carved surfaces compete for attention. Including inscriptions in praise of Allah, repeated over and over, the level of detail is just mind-boggling.


To think that these were carved by hand, before there was a way to light spaces sufficiently—more than one master carver must have gone blind creating these works of art.

Alhambra niche carvings

Of course, why do just tiles or patterns when you can combine both?


I mean, if you have an empire, more is certainly more.


And heck, if that that’s not enough, just throw in a few kickass doors with an awesome nail-head pattern. Just because you can.


Graceful serenity on the one hand, an explosion of color and pattern on the other. Can you see why the Alhambra is one of my favorite places in the whole world?

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Granada: The Alhambra

Alhambra is one of those magical places that never fade. Built as a defensive bastion in the 10th century, then transformed into a palace by both the Moors and their conquerors, the Catholic monarchs of Spain, al-Qalʻat al-Ḥamrāʼ , the red fortress, has truly lived up to its name. Standing proud throughout history, unbowed by time, and defying all forgetting, it is one of my favorite places in all the world.

I first visited the Alhambra in 2006 and have been unable to forget it since. That’s why I insisted that Marlon and I make the uphill trek (okay, I might have forgotten about that part) to see it despite forbidding dark clouds…

Granada view from Generalife

and later, despite pouring rain. But even the elements couldn’t diminish the Alhambra for me.

Patio de los Leones Alhambra rain

The dark gloom of storm clouds, the clatter of raindrops dripping off tiled roofs, the slick shine of water on marble floors, even the weak light of a rainy day may not be ideal for sight-seeing. But for memory-making, these imperfections are the catalyst that make a place come alive… and somehow, your own.

So you take it all in, damp scarf, cold hands, foggy camera lens and all, and vow to remember.

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