Friday, June 13, 2014

Study Abroad Spain - Alcazar & Alhambra

Thursday, and a little bit Wednesday, we went to Alcazar. Alcazar is an old palace with many gardens to walk through and look at. I say we went for a little on Wednesday because we were originally planning on visiting it then. On the map, Alcazar covers a pretty good amount of space. Not really planning exactly where we had to go, we decided to head over there after a little shopping near the cathedral. Because we didn't have a great plan going into the day, we went to the wrong side of Alcazar. We ended up walking all the way around the perimeter of the property for probably close to an hour. By the time we finally arrived at the entrance gate, where of course they make you pay to get in, we only had about 45 minutes until closing time, so we decided to wait another day before we visited.

Thursday right after school, we grabbed lunch at a restaurant and went straight to Alcazar. We probably didn’t pick the perfect time. The high temperature for the day according to The Weather Channel App on my phone said there was a high of 102 with “Extreme High Temperature” warnings throughout the day. The palace was beautiful nontheless.  Originally it was an Islamic palace, however later it was taken over by Spanish Christians.

My favorite part about it was the architecture. I don’t really know anything about architecture, but even I can see and think it’s cool how you can notice the different additions and styles of architecture from different times when different people had power of the palace. Another very interesting thing I observed about the palace was the room temperature. We walked through different rooms that used to be used as bedrooms, meeting rooms, or in various other ways. With it being so hot outside, I could really tell the difference in temperatures between rooms. Some rooms were sort of hot while others were a little cooler and the bedroom was the coldest of all. The bedrooms had no windows or any way for air circulation. Because they were made completely out of tiles, stones, and never received direct sunlight, they were able to stay so cool. I think it is very interesting how well planned and detailed the palace was to maximize the comfort for royalty.

If you ever go to Sevilla, Alcazar is definitely one of the historical places you need to visit. According to Trip Advisor it is the second most valued tourist attraction in Sevilla, and I would agree with them on that.

-Austin Todd, Junior, Business major, Alpha Company


How does one describe Granada, words and pictures can do little justice to the magnificence that is the city itself. I will do my best to convey the atmosphere and the sites that were seen. Among those sites two stand out above the rest; The Alhambra gardens and the Alhambra Palace, both of which are heavily influenced by Arabic art and religion.

The first thing we were greeted with was a climb to the top of a small mountain, from our direction it was a seemingly regular trip with no sites of major significance to be seen quite yet. Once we reached our destination we were greeted by one of Spain’s many biker gangs who happened to be visiting greeted us with the growl of engines and the shrill sound of horns.

Shortly into our guided tour of the gardens, the absolute beauty of the region began to show itself. The climate is perfect for the growth and maintenance of elaborate gardens such as the ones found within the Alhambra. Lavish overhangs and in-ground arrangements were quite the site to see. However, this was not the pinnacle of the experience.

The Palace itself is something of a wonder as its influences are heavily Arabic as well as traditional Spanish. Words cannot describe the intricacy of the building at even the most simple of levels. Aqueducts and plumbing in virtually every area supplied cool air and refreshment even hundreds of years later. Vast open areas with gardens, statues, and other visually stunning aspects exist in any area not occupied by a building or the fortress.

The fortress is a grand structure much like our own Citadel. Walls 5 to 8 stories high prevented foreign invasion and a garrison of several hundred troops manned the defenses long ago. The guns have since fallen silent and now only the remains of the interior remain, but the wall stands high as it did in the past. Once we crested the tower, the full view of Grenada came to light, a packed urban area with virtually no large buildings lying in a valley surrounded by small mountains. Beautiful sky and earth all around, Granada was and still sits in my mind as a grand wonder in Spain.

-Michael Arthur, Senior, Political Science major, Romeo Company

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