Life in a Palace

Palaces are certainly highlights of many cities throughout the world. They can be wonderful examples of wealth and opulence, but are also reminders of how powerful rulers and other leaders can become. While we would like to shame them for their excesses, it is hard not to walk through these gorgeous “homes” and wonder what it must be like to be able to surround oneself with such incredible artwork and beautiful furnishings. We don’t think that we could ever go to the extremes that the kings and princes achieved, but we have bought artwork from many of the places that we have visited and those paintings adorn the walls of our humble home here in Colorado. We find the memories of our travels to be worth more than any amount of personal possessions. For now, we will just have to visit palaces of the past and imagine what life must have been like for those who wandered through the hallways, bedrooms, and ballrooms. This week’s Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge are words that start with the letter P and have at least five letters, so we have chosen a few photos of palaces from our travels.

Prague Castle Complex, Czech Republic
Schloss Wilhelmshohe
Fountain in the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain
Palace of the Doors in Cochabamba, Bolivia
Christmas Tree in the Main Courtyard of Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria
Palace at Versailles


The Alhambra in Granada, Spain

We really enjoyed traveling around Southern Spain and one of the highlights of our trip was staying a couple of days in Granada and visiting the Alhambra fortress and palace. Before traveling to Spain, we weren’t aware of how much of influence the Moors had on the region. The Alhambra is a magnificent example of Moorish architecture and the colorful details are amazing.

Open Courtyard
Garden in Alhambra
View from the Fortress Walls
Looking out from the Palace

In the late 15th century Ferdinand and Isabella used the Alhambra as their royal court. During that period, there were some changes to reflect the Renaissance tastes of the time. What is amazing is that they found the original beauty of the Islamic palace so beautiful that they didn’t destroy most of the existing structures, but just augmented it. The gardens that were added are still absolutely breathtaking and you could literally spend the entire day just walking around them.

One of the Many Gardens
Beautiful Garden
View of One of the Gardens
Another Courtyard

One of the most interesting features of the Alhambra is its use of water and the unique delivery system. Water is brought from an aqueduct and then runs down, even along the stairs, to feed the various fountains and ponds on the palace and fortress grounds. We enjoyed all of the fountains, but the Court of the Lions, with its fountain surrounded by stone lions is one of the most interesting.

Another Fountain in Alhambra
Water Coming Down One of the Chutes of the Aqueducts in Alhambra
Lion Fountain
Looking over the Complex

You will definitely need a full day to see everything that the Alhambra has to view. There is the palace itself with its stunning mosaic walls and the fortress walls with the spectacular views of Granada. No matter what time of year that you visit the Alhambra, you will want to purchase your tickets weeks in advance or you won’t be able to get them. In order to maximize our time in the Alhambra, we ate lunch at the Hotel America that is actually located on the grounds of the Alhambra. The food and atmosphere was amazing and was well worth the somewhat higher prices.

Enjoying Lunch
Restaurant Courtyard
Looking Up at the Outside of the Alhambra
Moorish Architecture

No visit to Granada would be complete without a visit to the Alhambra. Washington Irving made this palace and fortress famous in his book Tales of the Alhambra and it is definitely deserving of the notoriety. The history of the Alhambra is so fascinating that we definitely recommend getting a book on it as there are so many interesting facts to learn about the wonderful place. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is definitely worthy of the honor.

View of One of the Towers at Alhambra
Looking out over Granada
Fortress Walls
Walking the Fortress Walls

Enjoying Your Surroundings

There is no doubt that everyone is influenced by their environment. It would be wonderful if we were able to completely control our surroundings, not just the artwork and furniture, but the weather, the light, the totality of the world around you. If we were as rich as the kings and queens of the past, perhaps we could achieve such results, so when we saw that this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge was Ambiance, we thought of some of the beautiful palaces that we have seen during our travels. The one that has stuck out the most is Alhambra and the combination of natural elements as well as architectural and cultural influences. We can only imagine what it would have been like to have lived in such a magical location.

Garden in Alhambra
Another Fountain in Alhambra
View of One of the Gardens