The real beauty of the Court of the Lions lies in the harmonious co-existence of three religious architectural influences. At the center of the courtyard is a fountain with 12 lions, representing the twelve tribes of Judah. Exquisite columns form a cloister surrounding the courtyard, a typical feature in cathedrals and monasteries throughout Europe. Geometric patterns in the traditional Mudejar style decorate the rooms. Much of the bright, rich colors of the tiles have survived to this day.
Looking across the courtyard, I can understand the lagrimas of Boabdil, the last Sultan, who was exiled to Africa after the Spaniards reconquered Granada. How often had he gazed at this courtyard and appreciated the symmetry of the columns, inhaled the sweet scent of oranges that are a staple in these parts, was lulled to sleep by the tinkling of water from the fountain and awoke reinvigorated in the coolness of his opulent surroundings. Asi es la vida.
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Image by Rosario Charie Albar
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Friday, July 07, 2006
I was idly browsing in the souvenir section of Madrid's El Corte Ingles when I stumbled upon my roots. There amongst tacky mementos and beautiful damascene jewelry, I found the coat of arms of my grandmother's family. According to the brief history written on the wooden plaque, the Barrios family came from Guipúzcoa in the Basque region of Spain. In succeeding years they branched out to the province of Burgos and established a new ancestral seat.
The Barrios clan belonged to an old and noble dynasty. When the King of Spain set out to reconquer Granada from the Moors in the late 15th century, the Barrios gentlemen accompanied him. This bit of history came as a surprise to me because I was on my way to Granada to see the legendary Alhambra. My journey was transformed.