27 July 2013

Winter Travelogue : Cordoba

After all these time? 

Always.

The lazybug has got the best of me, what with exams and other stuff and every thing in between. Ironically, I can't seem to remember other significant event other than exams. Oh well.

 My memory is so screwed up, but I forgot that we went out of Malaga before heading to Seville.

We're here!
So what I forgot was that before we continued our journey to Seville, other than Cordoba, which is a day-trip where we returned to Malaga at the end of the day, we also went on an amazing journey to a majestic town on top of a mountain, I guess, although it was a small mountain. I'd die if I would fall off the cliff, which is at a 90 degree angle.

The first town, was Cordoba. The sole purpose of coming here was to see the old Cordoba mosque and to find a glimpse of its glory in the 800s during the Umayyad caliphate. Although the mosque is now technically a church, with crosses and crucifixions at almost every corner of the building, except this one part; the old mimbar of the old mosque of the old kingdom. It was officially known as Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba or Mezquita–catedral de Córdoba, in Spanish.

It took about two to three hours by bus to get there, which costed about 13 Euros pax one way. As usual, the bus was comfortable, so as all of the services in Europe, I guess. As we arrived there, I met with a friend who also studied in Egypt, although he was already going out of Cordoba to his next destination.
Don't you love it, when you bumped across a friend in the most unexpected circumstances?


As a Malaysian-Egyptian, walking through a pathway like this in a comfortable weather is a great treat.

Anyway, as we walked around the city trying to find the mosque, which is relatively far from the bus station, (I was hoping that it was just around the corner, my lazy ass), we took a bus and dropped off at a junction of fifteen minutes of walking distance to the site. Although a little disappointed, the walk was actually amazing, with orange trees on the side of the road, the clean streets which is a great change compared to the streets of Egypt, the weather was perfect, not too cloudy as it will rain but cloudy enough to cover the sun.


Can anyone read this?

Riverside.




Ruins





an old structure just outside of the mosque's compound.

We finally found it!

Glimpse of the old days flashed through my mind as we walked the narrow streets of Cordoba, with ruins and damaged but well-preserved minarets, pillars and archways here and there. We spend a good half an hour at the water front, where the river was violent and muddy. Oh who cares anyway, that was not the reason tourists come to Cordoba.

I was again, disappointed when I found out that you need to purchase a ticket to enter the mosque, which was 8 euros pax. How ignorant was I? LOL. The building (I have a problem of calling it both a mosque which it is not anymore or a cathedral) was surrounded by a garden with lots and lots of orange trees. I was wondering why the trees hadn't got the fruits plucked off yet, and I tasted it and it was sour as hell. No wonder. There was also this small fountain  in the garden.


Outside view.
A walkway to the entrance.


Mosque of Cordoba, from outside.



From outside we can see the dome and the old minarets, standing proud after more that a millennium of existence. 


Arches.
A part of the ceiling that is still preserved well.

We entered the building. We spotted the characteristic horse-shoe archways immediately. Inside, beside the crosses and the sculptures of Jesus on a cross in every corner, there were rows of benches and a podium where the priests give his sermon, I think. Anyway, it was a typical view like the one I saw about churches on TV. 
The ceiling over the chapel.


The chapel right in the middle of the mosque.
My English is not very good, so I have a problem translating my memory into words. So here is a snippet from Wikipedia on the architechture.


The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper,onyxmarble, and granite. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple which had occupied the site previously, as well as other destroyed Roman buildings, such as theMérida amphitheatre. The double arches were a new introduction to architecture, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch. The famous alternating red and white voussoirs of the arches were inspired by those in the Dome of the Rock.[12] and also resemble those of the Aachen Cathedral, which were built almost at the same time. A centrally located honey-combed dome has blue tiles decorated with stars.


The mosque also has a richly gilded prayer niche or mihrab. The mihrab is a masterpiece of architectural art, with geometric and flowing designs of plants. Other prominent features were: an open court (sahn) surrounded by arcades, screens of wood, minarets, colourful mosaics, and windows of coloured glass.[12] The walls of the mosque had Quranic inscriptions written on them. As Islam rejects all sculptural or pictorial representation of people or of God, all decoration of the mosque is accomplished through tile work, caligraphy and architectural forms.
The original walls, with Quranic verses written on the arches.
It was gated, obviously to protect this relic.
The mimbar.
We spent about two hours here, taking pictures and walking into every room permitted to visit. Most of it was at a segment of the mosque where they preserved the original architecture of the mosque when it was really, a mosque. The original mimbar, of which was built not as of the direction of Makkah but southward, as to resemble another great mosque in Damascus, the homeland of the Umayyad. The descendants of the slayed caliph's longing of their home echoed through this part of the mosque. 

Then we went to have lunch at a small Indian restaurant where we had briyani after days of not eating rice at all. Well, kata orang melayu. For 15 Euros I got two plates of briyani rice and a bowl of chicken curry.

After we finished eating we had less than half an hour to catch our bus to Malaga which was at five in the afternoon, which is also apparently the last bus to Malaga. We nearly missed it, having to chase the bus as was it just leaving the bus station. It was a good laugh!

22 June 2013

Hidayah

Hidayah (Arabicهداية‎, Hidāyah) is an Arabic word meaning "guidance". According to Islamic belief, guidance has been provided by Allah to humans primarily in the form of the Qur'an.[1]

Sumber: Wikipedia.
Untuk aku yang beriman dengan hakikat bahawa setiap gerak-geri yang aku zahirkan adalah seharusnya demi mencapai redha Tuhan (konotasi klise di sini, tapi isinya sarat dengan kebenaran), aku percaya Allah sering campakkan petunjuk-petunjuk supaya aku terus beramal dan berkelakuan seperti yang dimahukan Allah. Solat berjemaah dan awal waktu, mengaji, makan baca basmalah, kau fikirlah sendiri.

Sesetengan petunjuk itu jelas terpampang, macam azan dari masjid, atau artikel-artikel romantis islami yang bersepah di internet, atau buku-buku agama yang kita beli agar kita tak terus tersasar dari landasan hidup setelah kita membacanya.

Dan bertepatan dengan zat Allah yang Maha Halus, kadang-kadang petunjuk-petunjuk itu terlalu subtle dan minute, kau perlu luaskan mata kau untuk nampak. Subtle hints orang putih kata. Petunjuk-petunjuk itu bukan saja subtle dan minute, petunjuk juga subjektif. Mungkin seketul pemadam papan hitam hanya sekadar seketul plastik tak bermakna bagi sesetengah orang, tetapi mungkin bagi yang lain ia adalah peringatan tentang kematian.

Hati orang, siapa tahu? 

Mata yang tiba-tiba terpandang al-Quran biru di atas meja, bendera Palestin yang mengingatkan tentang tragedi besar ummah zaman moden, cawan retak dari Paris yang mengingatkan aku pada kota asing itu, yang dihuni ribuan saudara Muslim dari Maghribi dan Algeria, terserempak dengan adik kecil berkopiah putih, atau apa-apa yang mengingatkan aku pada Tuhan dan hari akhirat.

Maka berbahagialah mereka yang akal sihatnya sudah sebati dengan Tuhan.

Di Mesir aku tinggal di Syari' 'Aqal, atau lebih senang disebut oleh orang tempatan sebagai a-al (headscratcher betul kalau nak cakap dekat asto (driver) pasal syari' ni, sebab susah nak sebut). Dari rumah aku ada lapan masjid yang melaungkan azan lima kali sehari dengan purata tiga ke lima minit berjalan kaki untuk sampai. Azan-azan itu umpama Tuhan menjemput aku untuk memberikan gaji bonus lima kali sehari, dari mana-mana pusat edaran yang diiktiraf. 

Cuma tinggal aku saja sama ada mahu atau tidak.

Tapi persoalan yang patut diutarakan adalah: kalau Tuhan sudah menjemput aku untuk memberi bonus, atau Tuhan sudah memberi hints yang tak berapa subtle lagi, kenapa aku tak mahu terima?

18 June 2013

Miracle

Masih di hari-hari akhir tahun lima perubatan Universiti Mansurah.

Alhamdulillah, sekurang-kurangnya OSCE taklah seteruk kertas essay. Sekarang tugas aku adalah utuk berserah dan terus berdoa, dan doanya aku ubah dari hanya mengharap lulus kepada agar Tuhan memberikan aku satu bentuk miracle, agar aku mendapat keputusan yang membanggakan.

Begitulah yang aku doakan tiap-tiap kali selesai peperiksaan akhir sem, sudah sembilan kali begitu. Dan alhamdulillah, walaupun aku belum pernah mendapat lebih tinggi dari sang average joe, sekurang-kurangnya aku belum pernah menduduki paper reseat musim panas,  dan aku belum bercadang untuk mendudukinya buat pertama kali untuk sem ini.

Reaksi pertama bila aku mendapat result ala kadar itu dan melihat kawan-kawan lain mendapat yang lebih tinggi, aku agak kecil hati. Kecil hati sebab aku tidak mendapat sebaik mereka. Buat beberapa jam pertama selepas itu aku lupa yang usaha aku tak setanding mereka, amalku tak sebaik mereka. Aku persoalkan, kenapa Allah tak berikan aku miracle seperti yang aku doakan?

Untuk kali kesepuluh, aku masih berdoa untuk miracle itu. Agar aku juga mendapat sesuatu yang hebat, seperti mereka. Entah, walaupun deep down aku sendiri sedar yang aku tak layak untuk keputusan sebaik mereka, tapi apa salahnya aku berharap.....kan?

Sebenarnya miracle itu telahpun Tuhan kabulkan setiap semester. Dengan usaha yang ala kadar, dengan maksiat yang susah untuk ditinggal, mendapat markah average adalah sesuatu yang miraculous!

Refleksi diri tiap kali apa yang aku mahukan tak dikabulkan, bukan blaming it on Allah being cruel.

Dah sepuluh semester baru sedar, alahai Diri.

p/s: melangkah ke tahun akhir dengan bergaya!

31 May 2013

Nakal

Super senpai akhirnya selamat melangsungkan perkahwinannnya. 

Masih teringat bait-bait khayalan sewaktu dia masih di Mesir, tentang perempuan itu dan ini (nakal-nakal anak bujang), gosip-gosip liar beserta 'kenen-kenen' nakal bila perempuan belum halal bagi kami. Lelaki normal mana yang tak mengidam untuk bersama dengan seorang perempuan?

Dan aku juga berimpi nakal seperti kamu-kamu. Berimpikan seorang isteri solehah cantik sempurna akhlaq dan budi, baik aqidah dan hati, cantik pakaian serba-serbi. Bak jenaka nakal seorang kenalan, muka mesti macam Miranda Kerr/ Emilie Clarke (kalau tak kenal tak perlu google, kuatkan iman!) Badan mesti begini dan begini. Diimpikan bidadari, sedangkan aku sendiri masih banyak lompong-lompong yang perlu diisi, dipateri. 

Hari ini aku semakin melangkah kearah itu. Walaupun belum ada 'solid plan', gambaran itu sudah ada, dan bagi lelaki-lelaki yang bercita-cita untuk menjadi lebih dari hanya manusia konsumer tanpa sebarang sumbangan yang memberi kesan kepada persekitaran, kita perlu buka kotak pemikiran dan membayangkan visi itu untuk lima puluh tahun ke hadapan.

Pastinya bukan kesempurnaan si dia yang aku harapkan.

Soalan yang lebih penting adalah aku mahu jadi suami/ayah/kawan/kekasih yang macam mana?

Pengalaman-pengalaman ibarat buku cerita yang tunggu untuk dihurai dan dirumus untuk dijadikan pedoman. Contoh-contoh buruk yang melambak itu dekat, menyebabkan aku takut dengan prospect of marriage, dengan tanggungjawab itu dan ini, bebanan itu dan ini. Dan ia amat menakutkan sekiranya aku gagal melaksanakannya dan aku juga menjadi seperti contoh-contoh buruk itu. Kalau yang susah itu aku tak apa, tapi janganlah yang sengsara itu pada si dia.

Persiapan diri sendiri itu yang lebih vital dan crucial, bukan kesempurnaan orang lain yang kita harapkan.

Persiapan IM agar dapat membentuk BM, dan bergabung dengan BM-BM yang lain membentuk MM, naik dan naik membentuk UA in shaa Allah!

p/s : post nakal. Procrastination is an underrated art

23 April 2013

Winter Travelogue : Malaga

As we returned to our hostel and took a few hours rest, we went walking around town to do some shopping. And naturally, we went to the usual HnM and Zara boutiques as they were usually the cheapest, and some others nearby. As we were walking about, Granada rained like hell (ada pulak hell nak hujan).

After we had dinner, we went home packing our bags and had our rest as the next morning we planned to leave the city. Our original plan was a day-trip to Cordoba before settling in Malaga for a few days, but we woke up late so we decided to head straight to Malaga instead.

We spent two days in this city.

Malaga is a beautiful city beside the shore of the Mediterranean sea with a beautiful weather, even in the middle of winter.

It took about three hours to get to Malaga by bus, and the cheapest way too at about 13 Euros pax. This time the view was not as excellent as the one from Madrid to Granada, but equally comfortable to say the least. We arrive around 3 in the afternoon, and we went straight to the googled hostel we found online the night before.

The hostel was Hostel Costa Azul situated about fifteen minutes by bus from the city center. I was a little disappointed with the location, but the ones that is in the city center costed us more, and here it was a private two bed room with its own bathroom like in Granada at the same 15 Euros per person. And the receptionist guy was very polite and helpful, so it was not that bad.

The beach.
Playing the swings/
Free Palestine! Jumpa tepi pantai.
After we settled down and performed our prayers, we went to the beach which was only about 10 minutes walking distance from the hostel. Since it was in the middle of winter, the beach was literally empty. We were the only ones there, taking insignificant pictures and playing on the monkey bars. There were also lines of restaurants selling beers and stuff with a nice walking path for strollers like ourselves.

Streets of Malaga; as always not crowded and clean.
I met countless locals walking their dogs while enjoying the cool breeze of the sea. I admired their lifestyle, they looked genuinely happy and content with their lives. I mean why shouldn't they, they lived in a beautiful city with a great weather with less problem than what we have in Malaysia. (to some aspect).

Waiting the sun to set.



We walked until the sun set beyond the hills west of the city. We stopped at a little playground, or perhaps a hybrid between a playground for adults and a mini gym for the old folks. On the way we stumbled across countless joggers, and at the playground there were a lot of people doing their routine exercises, including a couple of men practicing boxing behind the sunset, which I think is very poetic somehow.

Rocky Balboa?
After that we returned to the hostel to get some rest, before we head out to the city center to do some sightseeing. We went to a street with shops on each of its side, completely closed to motor vehicles with the sky as our roof and marble floors to walk on. It was like an open mall of some sort, with lamp posts lining each side to the end of the road. It's a shame I don't know the name of the place.

Downtown Malaga






















Aside from the usual boutiques here and there where I went into every single one because I had nothing better to do than just strolling around, finding a  halal place to eat is always an adventure. We met with an Indonesian who sells ice cream near Stratchan Street. He hasn't been home since six years, if my memory doesn't deceived me. After that we went home to have a proper rest after a long day in the city.



The Cathedral of the Encarnation, dari dekat.
The next day, we went to an old fort called Castillo de la Gibralfaro located on top of a hill that towered the city's skyline. To get to the top we had to hike hundreds of steps for about half an hour just to get to the entrance, and unlike any other forts or monuments we went before, this one only costed about two Euros each.

The fort was initially used to monitor the sea for any invading pirates.

Before we even reach the fort, we were treated with a round checkpoint where we can already saw the harbour from a higher view.

Berhenti tangkap gambar di checkpoint tengah-tengah mendaki ke Castillo.
Matador stadium.
There were walkways zig-zagging around the fort, on each side of the high walls we could see the end reach of the city; from the far east to the far west; the port and the white sails, the Malaga stadium and the mountainous background that graced the city adding its grandeur. 
Seaside view from Castillo.

Pintu masuk Castillo de la Gibralfaro.
A view from top of the castle, where you can see the Malaga football stadium.
After a few snaps around the fort, we exited through another entrance before continuing our journey to the city, where we stumbled upon a mighty 15th century church called The Cathedral of the Encarnation, that threw you back in time just by standing, staring to its enormous solid wooden door.

The Cathedral of the Encarnation, dari jauh.
Malaga isn't known for a city of old famous civilisation, although the port has existed since 600 BC, nonetheless it was amazing still to be able to spend some time there.

At night, we went to a mall late until it was almost midnight spending our time in Primark, the Mydin of Europe. Well, you get good quality products at retail prices, why wouldn't you go shopping? And after we got lost as we tried to find our way to the bus station, we went home to the hostel; had dinner at a nearby moroccan kebab restaurant and hit the bed.

After two days in Malaga, we're going to Cordoba the next day.

01 April 2013

Penat

Kalau dulu kita berperang di tanah lapang, di bukit bukau, di hutan belantara. Hari ini medan kita di alam maya. 

Facebook dan Twitter, dulu blog. Masing-masing menyorong ideologi sendiri tanpa meraikan kepelbagaian kefahaman manusia. Seolah-olah kau seorang saja yang betul, yang lain salah belaka. Selolah-olah kau saja yang tahu, yang lain masih merangkak membaca iqra jilid empat.

Aku penat.

Aku masuk ke medan ini selepas diajak kerana inginkan sense of belonging, sense of purpose. Aku lihat hidup orang yang ke tua mencari duit tanpa mengenal erti gembira, sering memikirkan berapa banyak duit yang tersimpan di bank. Aku dihantar ke dunia tarbiyah, yang dipenuhi manusia-manusia dangkal hanya melihat dunia ini hanya PAS-UMNO.

Dan bila aku bersama ikhwah, aku fikir dunia lelah itu telah aku tinggalkan. Rupa-rupanya akulah yang dangkal. Dunia itu terlalu luas. Ideologi terlalu banyak. Masing-masing mahu menjuarai ummah tanpa menghormati mereka di gerabak lain.

'Aku betul, kau salah, kau kena ikut aku'

Islam sama sekali tidak menafikan fitrah manusia yang pelbagai. Maka Allah meletakkan batas dan panduan, supaya manusia dapat terus hidup di dunia dengan redha dan barakah-Nya. Apa salahkah jika aku tak bersama kamu? Apa salahkah aku yang lebih selesa dengan caraku? Apa salahkah aku yang hanya mahu bergerak di dalam lingkungan redha Tuhan, masih belum terkeluar harapnya, walaupun aku berbeza caranya dengan kamu?

Ada yang asalnya manusia kebanyakan, menjuarai perang ideologi tanpa henti. Kalau kau dari orang kebanyakan, takkan kau tak faham bagaimana warna-warninya manusia itu?

Ada yang dulunya seorang yang luas pandangannya, tapi hari ini seolah-olah hanya hidup dalam balang kaca, dengan tali-tali mengawal gerakmu, menentukan tuturmu.

Ada juga yang terlalu manja tetapi memandang dirinya seorang pejuang?

Tak penatkah mereka?

 Perbezaan itu fitrah, teguran itu juga perlu, jangan pula pandang serong dengan aku.

Sesungguhnya aku hanya seorang yang mencari redha Tuhan di sebalik kemelut lelah itu. Aku hanya ingin menjadi manusia yang dijulang di syurga, mahu duduk di sebelah takhta baginda, mahu Tuhan memandang aku. Sudahlah dunia ini yang aku harapkan memberikan aku ketenangan, kalaupun aku keluar, dunia lagi satu itu lagi kosong, hanya penuh dengan mimpi-mimpi cetek manusia yang tak akan puas dengan apa yang ada di tangan.

Aku telah cuba meninggalkan mimpi kosong itu demi mencari redha Tuhan, dengan mengharapkan masa depan itu masih cerah, dan aku infaqkan tubuhku untuk dunia tarbiyah ini. Tolonglah, wira-wira kekunci tolol yang gila tak kenal dunia yang berbillion tahap kefahamannya, biar aku hidup tenang dalam dunia ini, biar aku hanya pening pada tempatnya.

Asas kita masih ukhuwah.

Semoga Allah menjauhkan aku dari jalan para pelampau itu, amin.

22 March 2013

Laknat

Sejak beberapa minggu lepas berita-berita kematian sering singgah di telinga aku. Bermula dari seorang penuntut perubatan Al-Azhar tahun 4 yang menghilang beberapa hari (dijumpai dalam keadaan biru dalam bilik, COD silent myocardial infarction), kemudian dengan kematian ayah akhi AJ, dan pada hari yang sama seorang brother lepasan UK yang bukan kenal pun dikhabarkan meninggal dunia, diikuti kematian Ummu Nidhal di Gaza, dan malam tadi apabila dikhabarkan penulis buku Fiqh sirah, Sh. Muhammad Saed Ramadan Al-Bouti telah syahid di dalam masjid, dan yang terbaru, seorang lagi bukan kenalan yang meninggal dunia di Zagazig.

Antara yang tidak ada itu merupakan manusia-manusia yang diratapi kematiannya, dirindui kehadirannya. 

1. Ummu Nidhal dengan gelarannya Khansa Palestin, beliau adalah seorang janda dengan 6 anak laki-laki dan 4 anak perempuan, dan seluruh anaknya adalah anggota Brigade Izzudin Alqassam, tiga diantara anak-anaknya telah Syahid (insya allah), yaitu Nidhal, Muhammad, dan Warwad. Seorang pejuang dari sejuta.

2. Akh Iman Syafiq yang belum pernah aku temui, tetapi lagenda hamasah beliau amat dikagumi sehingga bergegar Facebook dengan kisah-kisah beliau selama beberapa hari. Bagi seorang yang hanya setahun lebih tua dariku, bagaiman sebegitu ramai ikhwah dari seluruh dunia yang meratapi pemergian beliau membuktikan kehebatan arwah.

3. Tiga hari sebelum end-round exam, AJ menerima berita tersebut. Aku bersama AJ pada malam sebelum kematian arwah. Melalui perbualan telefon yang aku dengar-tak-dengar (sebab tengah main game dalam telefon), pada malam itu semuanya tenang. Tetapi Allah adalah sebaik-baik perancang.

4. Sh. Muhammad Saed Ramadan Al-Bouti, perlukah aku menulis panjang tentang kehilangan seorang mujtahid zaman moden? 

Aku doakan semoga setiap yang tiada itu ditempatkan di dalam syurga Firdaus bersama pejuang-pejuang yang lain. 

Ayat klisenya, kematian itu adalah sebaik-baik peringatan. Haha, satu lagi ayat superpower yang hilang zouknya apabila diulang dan diulang tetapi tak diamalkan atau difahamkan. Tapi ini cara aku, kerana aku tak kenal teguran terlalu vague dan lembut, kepala otak yang lambat untuk memproses maklumat menjadikan aku lebih prefer teguran secara direct dan tegas, tetapi berhikmah (of course).

Hanya satu yang aku harapkan, seandainya tiba waktu untuk aku juga menemui mati, aku harap amalku menjadi bukti aku telah menunaikan amanahku sebagai seorang hamba. 

"Wahai jiwa yang tenang! 
Kembalilah kepada tuhanmu dengan hati yang reda dan diredhai-Nya. 
Maka masuklah ke dalam golongan hamba-hamba-Ku. 
Dan masuklah ke dalam syurga-Ku."

p/s: laknat Tuhan bentuk apa apabila muka dihidang peringatan berkali-kali tapi hati masih menebal tak mahu menerima?

06 March 2013

Winter Travelogue : Alhambra, Granada

Echoes of grandeur after hundreds of years in ruins, carefully preserved.
When I first arrived here, I can barely believe it. This is one of the monuments on my bucket list, and since my family is cheap I have never imagined myself to be in such a place. No hard feelings, family whom I assume didn't even know the existence of this blog (except my mother, she is such a stalker).


 From Plaza Nuevo where it was lined with souvenir shops and restaurants and bars, we walked up this narrow path through a garden hill for about fifteen minutes. 

A fountain in the foothills of Alhambra.

A perfect combination of weather and scenerey made this place a memorable one.

The garden was more like a secondary forest, with water streams on each side of the road. And at the top of the hill just below the entrance of Alhambra there were about up to ten, I think, billboards of multiple floras and faunas from around the world. I did not understand the significance of those billboards especially since none of them had any relation to Spain.

Anyway, we continued walking up the hill where we met a group of school children I assumed to be on a school trip with their teachers. It must have been almost fifty of them.

As we arrived at the main gate, it started to rain briskly, We bought tickets, each for 13 euros but we were scheduled to go in for another hour, so we waited outside having breakfast we prepared earlier.

Anyway, a brief history about Alhambra, it was built by the Nasrid Dynasty, the last surviving Muslim kingdom south of Spain for some hundreds of years. Nasrid was not an Umayyah, which we need another post just to talk about that. The Alhambra complex includes the alcazaba  (basically a watch tower), the Nasrid Palaces built by the first Sultan and his successors, the Generalife (which I learnt later on to be pronounced as He-nera-lee-fay) and a round courtyard built by the Christians who conquered Granada some time in the middle of the 13th century.

Our ticket included all of the places mentioned above.

Before we went in, the counter offered headphone guides for a little below 10 Euros. I thought this was a little expensive, so I didn't take it. Oh what a bad decision that was.

We walked directly to the Nasrid Palaces. The walkway took 15 minutes. On each side tall tree bush were planted giving us that Wonderland feeling; trees twice as tall as I am with ruins of more than a half a millenium old. We were supposed to start our tour at 10.30, and we were 20 minutes ahead of schedule. The next group was already in line waiting for their turn. 

We entered a small courtroom filled with people, and the carvings on the walls were magnificent. Verses of the Quran were written on every space on the wall, and of course the humble and famous 'Laa Ghaalib illaAllah'. I was told that this spesific verse found in Alhambra was written for more than 9000 times around the Palace and the Generalife. Windows on the walls showed us glimpse of the town below, and the view was very beautiful indeed.

As we continued on, we entered an open hall with white marble floors and the usual carvings on the walls, with a marble fountain in the middle. From the guide that was explaining the history to a group of tourist (I was eavesdropping, so did ten others) this hall was where the King would entertain his guests. Another interesting information I heard was that the King heavily decorated the inner walls of his palace but left it plain and simple from the outside, because it is a symbol of humility and to avoid others of being envious to him.

Notice the details of the wall carvings. Amazing, isn't it?
I tried to decipher the carvings on the wall, and I have failed miserably.
This picture didn't do justice to the hall.
"Tiada penakluk selain Allah"
Then we arrived in a garden with a large pond in the middle of it, with a magnificent view of the round courtyard as its skyline view. The pond was very long, and the continuous flow of water and fountains made you feel safe and calm somehow. A perfect place to live indeed.

The pond, or should I say lake, or big a** pond.

An archway going away from the pond.
A great backdrop of Alhambra.
Finally, oh finally we arrived at the Court of the Lions. The gemstone of Alhambra. The center of the courtyard was made of white marble, including the Lionhead fountain. The center was roped off, so no visitor could come close to the fountain. But seeing the fountain itself was more than enough. Legend has it that this fountain will sprout water for five times a day, each for the five times we need to pray daily. But when the Spanish excavated the palace in some late 1800, they cut one of the lion's head trying to figure out the brilliant engineering of the fountain. Sadly, no discovery were made and the fountain were left  broken until this day.

The broken fountain.

It was roped off from visitors.

Arches decorated with mocarabes.
A roof carving, with what's left were vibrant colours painted the carvings.
After the Court of the Lions, we were lead on into several other rooms, towers and halls with just as the same amount of magnificence from what we saw earlier. Some of the rooms were closed for repair. It was not only the walls and fountains that mesmerized us visitors. Even the roofs were carved with detailed geometry. Every inch was given the same attention, as a result a marvel was born to the world. From a glassless window there was a garden with yet another fountain in the middle of it, surrounded by orange trees. 


There was a room here, where an English explorer stayed and started the excavation and preservation of Alhambra in the late 1800s after hundreds of years of abandonment. I didn't take any picture here, the room was crowded and there was nothing special about it, except the fact that this man was the reason we can still visit Alhambra today.

The courtyard. Notice the man in the middle, I believe his name was Groucho.

A couple of ruba'iyat from two of the greatest muslim sufi of all time.
After the Nasrid Palace we went to the Christian courtyard in front of the palace earlier. It was built on the ruins of a Nasrid building after the Christians reconquered Granada. I read somewhere that this round courtyard was despised by even the Christian Kings because it did not match the grandious architecture of the palace and the Generalife. And I had to agree, it was well-made but there were nothing to see. Although, from the middle of the courtyard, the echoes were amazing. We played with echoes here for a good twenty minutes before we went to a souvenir shop in the same building. I bought a book here, my effort to understand the era of the second Umayyah caliphate.

Our visit continued. More ponds and fountains were built from here to Generalife, which is saying something because it took ten minutes to get there. Generalife was a beautiful garden with yes, you guess it fountains and man-made lakes made with perfect geometry. I understand that the Nasrid King would retreat here to escape his busy day at the palace, where he handled his work for his kingdom, entertained visitors and other formal occasions. 

A view of the Nasrid Palace from a garden outside.

A stage before entering Generalife. I don't think this was built by the late King.

Fountains and gardens of grandious status assimilated to make the perfect retreat.

Me in the Garden, yay

I want to have this in my own house one day.



Another garden and fountain, although this was not as beautiful as the others.


A stairway of fountains, again.
Arched by trees, our walk out of Alhambra was melancholic. Ignore the man in the picture, the walkway is beautiful and there was no other picture.
Finally, it was time to go home. It has been a great day in Alhambra. The carvings, the writing on the walls and of course the streams of ponds and fountains will always be in my permanent memory. I can cross another great monument in my Bucket list. After we finished the visit we went back to Plaza Nuevo to find something to eat (Kebab, of course) and we went back to the hostel to rest and pray. 

Today, I am trying to understand the history of Islamic Andalucia. Next stop, Malaga!
 
 
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