After a long weekend of studio work, the squad had the opportunity to recharge in Southern Spain. Our adventure began with a 5:30 AM bus ride–which almost all of us woke for… mhm…MICHAEL!–where we made our way through the mountains and low lying clouds to Córdoba. Madrid is relatively young compared to others in Spain, so we were excited to explore the 10th century architecture at the Madinat al-Zahra palace-city and the Great Mosque. The incredibly detailed geometry that decorated the form reminded me of Istanbul, while the structures themselves were built within the landscape ingeniously. The watering systems at the mosque and integration within the topography at Madinat al-Zahra were inspiring. After appreciating the neighborhood and a series of tapas, the group hopped back on the bus to depart for our final stop, Granada.
The lively city and our comforting hotel welcomed us tired students kindly. After a minor siesta, Jake Woll, Norman, and I–the trio–thought we’d explore the neighborhood. We were quickly lured into a restaurant by a jolly old man, where we found out that a serving of tapas comes free with every drink in Granada. Giddy at our discovery we initiated a pub crawl around the hotel. After stopping in four local restaurants and bars, the amount of cheap food and cerveza caught up with us, as we struggled to choke down the last serving of patatas bravas…..a rare occurrence for this group of savage eaters.
Only having one full day in the city, we appropriately spent it at the great fortress in the mountains. The Alhambra, containing some of the most iconic examples of landscape architecture within its gardens and courtyards is a bucket-list trip for a LDP major like myself. The early start to the day and arduous climb to it’s entrance was overtaken by excitement. This was really happening!
We began our visit in the Generalife complex, which translates to “architects garden”. Fountains and flowers attract you from one beautiful space to the next. I have never experienced so many amazing smells, it was nearly sedating. The urge to dive in a flower bed was fought off… but just barely. After exploring the gardens we continued to the Nasrid Palaces. The detailed mudéjar architecture is taken to the next level with the most impressive sculpted patterns I had seen yet. Dozens of sketches were to be had by our inspired group.
Cerveza and Magnum bars served as an intermission for many, preparing us to climb the watch tower that overlooks the city. From the top we mapped out a route to explore Granada before our evening re-entry into the Nasrid Palaces. Our first stop in the city was for durum, followed by a visit to the Cathedral. We then trekked through the Albaicín neighborhood where some stopped for a round of hookah. We really wanted çay but all they had was “Chai con Leche”… sounding suspicious we all had coffee. The city contains many reminders from our time in Istanbul, with our nostalgia informing many decisions. We then enjoyed the view of the Alhambra from Mirador San Nicolás, a festive plaza full of people. Enjoying the last hour of sun that had blessed this day, we all took in the view. The Alhambra soon lit up, signifying that it was time to journey back for an illuminated tour of the Nasrid palaces. The night made the experience of the palace even more surreal, with reflections and form turning magical. Less sketching was done this time around as the setting captivated us all. The day couldn’t have been spent any better and is one that I will always cherish.
Given the intensity of work thus far in Madrid this vacation from studio was much needed. The troops now stand revitalized and ready for the final battle of that lies ahead. Our time abroad is sadly coming to a close, but there is no doubt that this resilient group will finish strong.
Adios for now!