Tales of the Lecrin Valley

A personal view of life in an andalusian village.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting old, or because I think I’ve seen it all and not much lights my lamp these days, but this weekend I went around the Albaicin (the old quarter of Granada city) with some friends and saw some things I hadn’t seen before. I found it really interesting, probably because it had to do with the Moorish past of Granada and Carmen and I having spent a long time in Morocco and so I’m going to write about it. We initially wnet to see a carmen, a traditional house in the old part of Granada with a walled garden and epitomising their Moorish history. Typically, these carmens are hidden from the street by high walls but when you enter you are confronted with a fantastic garden or orchard with fountains with flowing water and luxurious plant growth everywhere. Most have a view of the Alhambra and are romantic in the extreme. The Albaicin is a UNESCO World Heritage Site https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albayz%C3%ADn and it is easy to lose oneself in its narrow streets. After having viewed the carmen and what a delight that was, we went back through the lower part of the Albaicin and had the privilege of being shown behind the scenes of one of the processional brotherhoods where we saw the gold and silver thrones used to carry the Virgins during the Easter parades for which Granada is famous. We also went into the vestry to see all the robes which the bearers wear. Next door was a church which I had only passed before and had never entered. Again, it looked like nothing of note from outside but inside was like no other Catholic church I had ever been in. It was devoid of almost any gilded decorations and indeed one side had been left un-plastered to show the exposed wall of the original minaret, showing that it had been a mosque before the re-conquest by the Catholic Kings. It was, in fact,the place where Ferdinand and Isabel had celebrated their first Mass directly following the surrender of Boabdil, the Sultan of Granada. The minaret. now converted to a church tower, still has the original Moorish frescoes on its facings, just like the minarets in Morocco..

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And on top of the tower was something I had only seen once before and that was minutes before in the garden of the carmen we had just visited.  I’ll explain. On top of the minarets in Morocco are three spheres, often golden and they represent the three great religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. How enlightened were the Moors compared with the fundamentalists of today.

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But I digress.  The top sphere on this church tower had been replaced by a castle and atop that a cross, showing that the Catholic Kings felt the need to put their stamp on things.

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What a marvellous piece of history.  After that we had a few drinks and tapas in a converted monastery and wended our way home.

I love the Albaicin, every trip there brings something different to light.