Granada’s sultan El Hamra

Hours were almost midnight. But the weather was as if the sun was still above us. In Granada, where the sun went down at 21:30 in August, it should not have been surprised by the temperature at this hour. We were on the top of the Albayzin neighborhood, in San Nicolas square. We would just watch “it”, take a few pictures and turn. But what was happening in Albayzin was not just the view of “he”.

Two young people sat on the edge of the wall, playing classical guitar and Spanish tunes in their hands. Dozens of people around him accompanied the guitar with a glass of wine or beer in their hands. “He” was just in front of us. He looked at us as if he were sitting gracefully on the opposite hill. “He”, the sultan of Granada, Al Hamra Palace, was shining brightly like a jewel in the middle of the night.

El Hamra Palace, Granada

It was a magnificent sight. Everyone, young people, old people, strolling babies, world-sweet dogs, all enjoying the moment seem to be enchanted by the guitar and the scenery. It was as if we were having a Bodrum night. We were not on the center, but on a peaceful hill where we could see Bodrum Castle from afar. A warm, light breeze, happy people around, wonderful music in the background, a glass in your hand, whatever you fill it with …

We were once in Granada, in the Spanish region of Andalusia, in Granada. The city where the African Leo of Amin Maalouf was born, the last “Muslim Spain” lands delivered to the Spanish in 1492, Washington Irving’s Granada.

Albayzin, on which we are located, was on the world heritage list like El Hamra Palace and was a neighborhood that hosted the Roma in its time. In Sacromonte right next to it, some Roma used the caves they carved into the rocks as a home, restaurant or even a demonstration center.

Albayzin, Granada

When the Roma are in Spain, the color of the work changes. Women are very impressive with their jet black hair, shaky long flamboyant earrings that they usually gather at their nape, their skirts that reveal all the folds of their bodies, their traditional clothes with frills, shawls, fantasies, their eyes that stop hard but flowing water, their smiles and their indispensable red lipsticks. Men do not have anything to do with women. They are also interesting with their bronze skin, jet black hair, eyebrows, eyes, open-hearted white shirts, tight pants and vests.

In Sacromonte, we had the chance to watch them closely and even dance with them in the caves carved into the rocks. These caves, three and four meters wide, resembled a long corridor. Right and left stools were placed along the road. If you stretched your feet a little, the dancers could get stuck. Since the show was held at the bottom of your nose, it was possible to follow the foot movements closely.

This was not the first Flamenco show I watched, but it was the first time I was in such an environment. For some friends who had claustrophobia inside when the entrance door of the cave closed, the show never ended. Others were waiting for a surprise at the end of the show. Being danced by a Flamenco dancer. Unfortunately, the only audience who refused this unique offer was my number two (my little boy).

Cave house, Sacromonte, Granada

As I said, there are still some Roma living in the caves on the Sacromonte hill. But just before the dance show, I realized that there was nothing to be upset when I had the opportunity to go up to the terrace of the cave house. They carved not only their houses, but also swimming pools. Seeing the swimming pool and sun loungers on the terrace, the color of the “cave house concept” has changed.

Day and night of Granada passed with different feelings. The excitement and partial anger I felt while visiting Alhambra in the daytime left a great joy and peace in the evening.

Al Hamra is mentioned as a palace, but it is almost a town. You have to walk more than 4 km to travel. El Hamra Palace, which takes its name from its red color, is not a victory monument. An exaggerated architectural work that was made to announce the message “We are still strong” to the world in the last period of Andalusia. Today, I do not know if the leaders who applied this way are still alive. Is it familiar?

The work is no doubt the pride of Islamic art, it is possible to see plaster, wood, ceramic and marble work together in Al Hamra. The plaster work on the ceilings is finely processed in the form of water stalactites. It was painted in red blue and green in its time. The garden of the palace is also a garden of paradise. ” All kinds of plants that you can think of have been grown inside. A variety of fruits, vegetables, plants, from lotus ponds, pomegranate trees, lavender to chili peppers are still available. Today, agriculture continues to be carried out in a part of the palace garden.

In 1469, things started to change when Isabelle and Fernando got married, who was nicknamed “dirty” because she was washed only three times in her life. Being very religious, Isabelle decided to send Muslims and Jews from Spain. With the fall of Granada in January 1492, it has conquered the lands it once owned and reached its will.

According to what has been said, three years have been given to Muslims to go or stay. During those three years, the Spaniards learned trade, crafts and science from the people of Andalusia. The Jews were not so lucky for some reason, they sent them sooner. The sincerity of many of those who preferred to change their religion was not believed, they were tried in the inquisition courts and killed by torture. Most of those who went to the Ottoman lands also migrated.

Images: Flickr