Tag Archives: Religion

Resurrecting Alhambra in Spain

© Louise Creely 2016

It’s one of the most visited monuments in Europe – and with the crowds here today, I believe it. But nothing can detract from this incredible place. Come wander around La Alhambra de Granada for a while with us…

Once a thriving fortress-palace city with 2700 occupants within its walls, Alhambra or al-qala’a al-hamra (the Red Castle) had orchards and gardens, running water, factories and everything it needed to withstand any siege.

© Louise Creely 2016

As you wander through the gardens of Generalife, you are literally enveloped in the scent of flowers and fresh herbs…

© Louise Creely 2016Since its humble beginnings as a hilltop refuge and fortress in the 9th century, Alhambra has survived many changes of fortune.

By the 14th century during the Nasrid dynasty, the last Arab Muslim dynasty in Spain, the emirs had created a combination of a fortress, palace and small medina (city) that showcased their stunning architecture and artwork.

Water was integral to their design. They believed it was a gift to be cherished and belonged to no man – and that the sound of trickling water created harmony. Today, water still runs along ancient irrigation channels on the streets, into fountains, pools, palaces, houses and gardens, then into the river to start its journey again.

© Louise Creely 2016

Water still travels here along ancient aqueducts from the mountains around Granada, creating a cool, calm environment – just perfect for a frog prince to hang out!

By 1492, the combination of a civil war over the throne of Granada and the Reconquista (Christian reconquest) created the perfect storm that saw the Nasrid dynasty overthrown. Soon the mosque was replaced by a church, and a Franciscan monastery was built along with other structures including a Renaissance palace.

© Louise Creely 2016

art-destroyedIt’s hard to believe that by the late 18th century this incredible place was totally abandoned and taken over by squatters, who systematically removed and sold off most of the valuable tiles, fountains, marble and other artefacts.

But wait, there’s more. In the early 1800s, Napoleon’s troops moved in and converted the palaces into barracks.

During one retreat, they blew up parts of the towers and left the Torre de Siete Suelos and the Torre de Agua in ruins.

© Louise Creely 2016

Ruins of the village at Alhambra

It was travellers, poets and other concerned people that finally saved the rotting, overgrown ruin. 19th century American author Washington Irving’s Tales of the Alhambra (1831), written while he stayed in the palace, put a spotlight on the crumbling monument.

© Louise Creely 2016© Louise Creely 2016

The restoration process continues…

In 1870 it was declared a national monument and the huge restoration task began.

Over a century later, in 1984, it became a Unesco World Heritage Site – and today the restoration work is still underway.

Wandering through this place, you can almost feel its spirit coming to life again… Now that’s a resurrection!


Get tickets before you go: Try Ticketmaster Spain and be aware that lines for tickets at the site are seriously daunting (even for picking up prepaid ones!).


A splash of colour in Cuenca

Autumn has arrived in Spain – and with it the rain. But nothing can put a damper on the arty, colourful city of Cuenca.

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To say we are blown away is an understatement. From colourful apartment buildings, to hanging houses that look like they will topple off the cliff at any moment…

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…to incredible art in contemporary art museums, on the streets and in ruins we stumbled across on one of the many walking trails around the mountains (and yes, EB found them all – including those endless stairs!).

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art-in-the-ruins

tulipsEverywhere you look, there are pops of colour – even tulips growing among the weeds.

And then there is our hotel, Parador de Cuenca, suspended on a cliff opposite the city, overlooking the River Huecar.

It was originally the Convent of San Pablo, built in 1523 in stunning late Gothic style.

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Access to the city is across a long suspended bridge that spans the ravine. I know right? Heaven can wait…

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Okay, I’m running out of adjectives here. And EB is hopping from foot to foot. There are trails to walk (or run!). And a slight downpour isn’t about to stop us!

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Give my regards to Broadway…

You can’t stay in New York without seeing at least one Broadway – or Off Broadway – show. But what is Broadway and what isn’t?

I thought ‘Off’ Broadway referred to something on the fringes of the district or more experimental. But it’s nothing quite as dramatic. I’ve discovered that it actually all comes down to the seating capacity of the theatre.

A Broadway show is one in a theatre with a seating capacity of 500 or more. Off Broadway shows hold 100 to 499, while Off-Off Broadway shows are even smaller and usually the experimental ones. Makes sense, yes?

book of mormonOur first show was The Book of Mormon – and what a baptism of hilarity on Broadway that was.

I hadn’t read any reviews, just picked it from a list of shows before coming here, purely based on its religious flavour and those outrageous SouthPark guys who created it.

From the opening ding-dong ditty, throughout this magnificently layered, gaspingly clever musical, and to the end where you are lifted to your feet – these guys have (ahem) totally nailed it.

If you’ve had a religious upbringing like us, you just have to see it. If you haven’t, you just have to see it.

EB and I have never been huge fans of musicals – but the Book of Mormon has converted us…

Next week, we’re seeing Cabaret. It won’t be as irreverent I’m sure, but we’re looking forward to it. This stuff is pretty addictive – and, hey, when on Broadway…!