Must see places in Andalusia, Spain

If you are a muslim traveller or an islamic architecture lover those are the 7 things you must see in Granada

Top 10 foods to try in Morocco

One of the great cuisines of the world, Moroccan cooking abounds with subtle spices and intriguing flavour combinations.

Top Five Must See Things in Cordoba, Spain

Cordoba قرطبة in the Andalucia province of southern Spain is a city with more than 2,500 years of developed history.

ChefChaouen, the blue city in Morocco

Located just a few hours by bus from Tangier and far enough off the beaten track to dissuade many tourists, Chefchaouen is quiet enough for those visitors overwhelmed by the busy medinas of Fez and Marrakech, and has just enough of what is quintessentially Moroccan to be of interest to other travelers looking for something a bit more authentic.

Fes, Morocco

The most mystical of Morocco's imperial cities, Fez. Capital and spiritual center of Morocco, this city is situated in a narrow valley against the backdrop of the Middle Atlas

domingo, 30 de noviembre de 2014

The Hall of the Abencerages, Alhambra de Granada

Of the two residential areas surrounding the Court of the Lions, the rooms located at the south end of the Court developed around the Hall of the Abencerrages, which derived its name from a legend of the 16th century, according to which the members of this North-African family were invited to a banquet and then massacred in this hall.

The main room stands up over the level of the Court, which can be seen from the inside through the only opening of the hall, a wide door that conserves the original door, which is decorated with intricate woodwork that has been restored on various occasions.

It has a square ground floor design with a central 12-side marble fountain flanked by two alcoves that are framed by double arches. Most of its plasterwork decoration was restored in the 16th century; the Seville tile covered socle also dates from the 16th century.

Noteworthy is the eight-point stalactite star of the cupola that spreads out into eight trunk-like stalactites.

As is customary in Nasrid architecture, behind the entrance door we find two highly modified corridors that once led to a no longer existing toilet and to the upper floor or projecting loft over the Court.

Photo of the eight-point star cupola by: Second Photho: Text by:

viernes, 28 de noviembre de 2014

The Hall of the Two Sisters, Alhambra of Granada

The Hall of the Two Sisters, the second main chamber of the Palace of the Lions, is structurally similar to that of the Hall of the Abencerrages. It is situated above the court, where the only entrance is located, the wooden door of which is lavishly decorated with geometric shapes.
Upon entering the hall several corridors to the left and the right lead respectively to the upper floor rooms and to the residence lavatory. The name is derived from the setting where two large marble flagstones lie with a small fountain in between from which water flows along a canal to the Court of the Lions.   

The tiled socle , the most peculiar of its sort in the Alhambra, is a lovely geometrical composition consisting of variously coloured interwoven laces.
In characteristically Nasrid fashion, the plasterwork decoration is divided into large stretches, separated by inscriptions covering the walls, and culminating in the masterfully executed stalactite dome with its star in the centre and highly ornamented carved stucco in honour of Pythagoras’ well-known theorem. 

To the sides of the square-shaped hall, two alcoves can be reached. Exquisitely embellished with handcrafted wood designs, both have room enough for a da
is or a bed.

Photo of the Hexagonal dome by:
Photho of the Court of the Lios by:
Text by:

jueves, 27 de noviembre de 2014

1609 The expulsion of Moriscos, the muslim andalusian people

In 1492, after 10 years of fighting, King Muhammad XII, known as Boabdil to the Spanish) surrendered the keys of the Alhambra Palace in Granada to Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon.

The last King of Granada and the Catholic Monarchs had signed the Capitulation of Granada at the end of 1491, a treaty which guaranteed rights to Muslims, including religious tolerance and fair treatment, in return for their unconditional surrender.

However, the rights of the natives of Granada were not respected for long. New special taxes aimed at Muslims were introduced, they were forced to live in segregated districts, and Christians began settling on what had been Muslim-owned land

The Capitulation of Granada (extracts)

•    That both great and small should be perfectly secure in their persons, families, and property.
•    That they should be allowed to continue living in their dwellings and residences, whether in the city, the suburbs, or any other part of the country.
•    That their laws should be preserved, and that no-one should judge them except by those same laws.
•    That their mosques, and the religious endowments pertaining to them, should remain as they were in the times of Islam.
•    That no Christian should enter the house of a Muslim, or insult him in any way.
•    That all Muslim captives taken during the siege of Granada, from whatever part of the country they might have come, but especially the nobles and chiefs mentioned in the agreement, should be liberated.
•    That all those who might choose to cross over to Africa should be allowed to take their departure within a certain time, and be conveyed thither in the king's ships, and without any pecuniary tax being imposed on them.
•    That after the expiration of that time no Muslim should be hindered from departing, provided he paid, in addition to the price of his passage, the tithe of whatever property he might carry with him.
•    That the Christians who had embraced Islam should not be compelled to relinquish it and adopt their former creed.

Capitulation of Granada (selection)

•    That any Muslim wishing to become a Christian should be allowed some days to consider the step he was about to take; after which he is to be questioned by both a Muslim and a Christian judge concerning his intended change, and if, after this examination, he still refuses to return to Islam, he should be permitted to follow his own inclination.
•    That no Muslim should be prosecuted for the death of a Christian slain during the siege; and that no restitution of property taken during this war should be enforced.
•    That no increase should be made to the usual taxes, but that, on the contrary, all the oppressive taxes lately imposed should be immediately suppressed.
•    That no Christian should be allowed to peep over the wall, or into the house of a Muslim or enter a mosque.
•    That any Muslim choosing to travel or reside among the Christians should be perfectly secure in his person and property.
•    That no badge or distinctive mark be put upon them, as was done with the Jews and Mudejare (converted Muslims).
•    That no muezzin should be interrupted in the act of calling the people to prayer, and no Muslim molested either in the performance of his daily devotions or in the observance of his fast, or in any other religious ceremony; but that if a Christian should be found laughing at them he should be punished for it.
•    That the Muslims should be exempted from all taxation for a certain number of years.

The Capitulation of Granada

The Capitulation is a remarkable example of religious toleration for its time (or even for modern times). From the conquest in 1492 until 1495, both parties to the Capitulation tried to respect it. However, during the last years of the 15th century, several decrees were issued which over-ruled it. Muslims rights were unilaterally revoked. The arrival in Granada of the Archbishop of Toledo, the Franciscan Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, in October of 1499, led to important changes in their situation.

Relying on Canon Law, the Cardinal held that Christians who had converted to Islam (called
‘helches’) or their descendants should be forced to return to Christianity.

Moreover, about 5000 Arabic manuscripts from the Madrassa were burned in the Bib-Rambla square in Granada on the orders of the Archbishop. Such actions broke with the policy of mutual respect and peaceful assimilation.

Changes in attitude

"[Archbishop of Toledo] helches have to be restored to our faith, because Canon Law demands that they be reconciled and returned to our faith"
Archbishop Cisneros, 1499

"Don Fernando and Doña Ysabel. To all magistrates and mayors of the Kingdom of Granada. You know that the Moors who lived in that Kingdom converted to our holy Catholic faith, but they had many false books of their false sect, which should be burned in the fire to destroy their memory and avoid them making mistakes. And We order to any person in possession of these books that within the established period they should give up the aforementioned books under pain of death and confiscation of their wealth if they do not respect this."
Provision of the Catholic Monarchs ordering the burning of all books in the Kingdom of Granada, 1501

Revolt in the Albaicin

These events caused a revolt in the Albaicin (the most famous Muslim quarter of Granada) and
triggered an irreversible process of conversion.

In 1502 the Muslim population of the former Kingdom of Granada was forced to convert or be expelled and, at the beginning of the 16th century, the conversion to Catholicism was declared compulsory within the Kingdom of Castile and the territories of the Crown of Aragon. All the Muslims who remained in Spain became Moriscos.

A threat to the Hispanic Monarchy

During the 1550s Turks and Berbers became a serious threat to Mediterranean Christian countries. Moriscos were seen as possible allies and were therefore regarded as a potential threat to the Hispanic Monarchy. A lot of propagandists, including representatives of the Church, proposed measures for dealing with the threat. Moriscos were officially Christians and therefore, according to the Canon Law, if they were proved to be heretics or apostates, they should be condemned to death.

“It is said that the Moors should incur the death penalty, the loss of their property and their children or risk servitude and slavery. It would not be an injustice if they were put to the sword, but at least His Majesty, in conscience and good government, must banish them from these Kingdoms.”
Fray Pedro Arias to the State Council

“If they go to Africa they will join up with the people from there and they will return to Spain. These people can be deported to the coasts of “macallaos” and Terranova, which are wide and without any population, where they should be castrated.”
Martín de Salvatierra,Bishop of Segorbe, 1587

“that all men, women and children were shut up in drilled vessels without oars, rudders, rigging and sails and sent to Africa.”
Report from Juan Boil de Arenós to the State Council, 1601


The expulsion of Moriscos

Finally, in 1609, Philip III decreed the expulsion of all Moriscos. The main argument for this was the

Although there had been rumours of expulsion for a long time, the news still took most Moriscos by surprise. They had to sell their possessions hurriedly and lots of them were robbed and killed during the journey.

The situation of Moorish children was also tragic. A lot of them were separated from their parents and the King established that fathers or mothers who refused to leave their sons and daughters should be executed. As a consequence of these measures, thousands of children were virtually kidnapped under the protection of the law.
possible support of the Moriscos for a supposed Turkish invasion of Spain. This decision especially affected the Crown of Aragon and, particularly, the former Kingdom of Valencia, where Moriscos formed one third of the total population.

Text by:

martes, 25 de noviembre de 2014

The Albaycin al-bayyāzīn, the old Arab Quarter in Granada

The Albaycin is the old Arab Quarter. It comprises approximately the area between the hill of the Alhambra, the hill of San Cristobal, the Sacromonte and Elvira.  It was declared a world heritage site in 1984, along with the more famous Alhambra.

The name albaicín appears to derive from the Arab word al-bayyāzīn, pronounced with an imala in the Granadan Arabic accent as al-bayyīzīn, meaning "the falconers", although this is disputed by some linguists.

El Albayzin in Granada Spain is a wonderful neighborhood to explore on foot. While strolling along the whitewashed streets, visitors can admire old Moorish homes, beautiful fountains, and attractive plazas. Among the more renowned plazas is the Plaza de San Nicolas. It is at this plaza that the Mirador de San Nicolas can be found. This "mirador," or lookout point, offers amazing views of the Alhambra, especially at sunset.

 The Albaycin is like a different world within Granada. This is due to the strong Muslim influence in this area. It was the place where the first Ziri court was built in the eleventh century.

The city descended from Saint Nicholas to the banks of the River Darro. The Albaycin featured luxurious carmenes and public baths, like the Banuelo

There is a lot to see in the Albaicin Quarter, including remnants of an old gate, Puerta Elvira, to the city and numerous cisterns that harken back to days gone by.

Despite the development that followed the Christian conquest, the Albayzín still bears witness to the medieval Moorish settlement, as its urban fabric, architecture and main characteristics (form, materials, colours), were not changed when it was adapted to the Christian way of life, to survive as a remarkable example of a Spanish-Moorish town.

Nowdays, Albaycin Bajo has a very North African feel, and you will find kebabs and falafel on the local restaurant menus. As for the shops, they offer all kinds of things, including Moroccan handicrafts. Many are found along Calle Caldereria Nueva, which extends from the Albaicin to some of the city's more modern neighborhoods.

Next to the Arabic Quarter in Granada it's  Sacromonte. A neighborhood of sorts, Sacromonte is known for its gitano (gypsy) heritage and features some interesting caves. It's also where the Granada flamenco shows take place.

jueves, 20 de noviembre de 2014

Gharnati Music & Andalusian Nawbah... from Al-Andalus to the countries of the Maghreb

Andalusian Concert in Granada (Spain)
The Andalusian Classical Music in Morocco
  Morocco is home to Andalusian classical music that is found throughout North Africa. It probably evolved under the Moors in Cordoba, and the Persian-born musician Ziryab is usually credited with its invention.

Ziryab invented the Nawbah, a suite which forms the basis of al-âla, the primary form of Andalusian classical music today, along with Gharnati and Malhoun.

There used to be twenty-four Nawbah linked to each hour of the day, but only four Nawbah have survived in their entirety, and seven in fragmentary form. An entire Nawbah can last six or seven hours and are divided into five parts called mizan, each with a corresponding rhythm. The rhythms occur in the following order in a complete Nawbah:

- basît (6/4)
- qaum wa nusf (8/4)
- darj (4/4)
- btâyhi (8/4)

- quddâm (3/4 or 6/8)

Each mizan begins with instrumental preludes called either tuashia, m'shaliya or bughya, followed by as many as twenty songs (sana'a) in the entire mizan.

Andalusian classical schools are spread across Morocco, having left Spain when Muslims and Jews were driven out of the country. Valencia's school is now in Fez, while Granada's is located in Tetouan and Chefchaouen. Cities like Tangier and Meknes have their own orchestras as well.

Jews in Morocco played an important role in the perpetuation of this oral tradition. In fact, the late Rabbi David Bouzaglo was known to have a conservatory of sorts in Casablanca where a number of Arab and Jewish musicians trained in al-Ala.

Andalusian classical music uses instruments including Oud (lute), Rabab (fiddle), Darbouka (goblet drums), taarija (tambourine), Qanoon (zither) and kamenjah (violin). Other instruments have included pianos, banjos and clarinets, though none of these instruments lasted for long.

Andalusian classical music orchestras are spread across the country, including the cities of Fez, Tetouan, Chaouen, Tangier, Meknes, Rabat and Casablanca.

Andalusian Nawbah

Andalusi nubah (أندلسي نوبة) is a genre found in the North African Maghrib states of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya but, as the name indicates, of Spanish origin. The name replaced the older use of sawt and originates from the musician waiting behind a curtain to be told it was his turn or nawbah by the sattar or curtain man (Touma 1996, p. 68).

Lyrics are sung by the soloist or in unison by the chorus are chosen from the muwashshah or zajal poetic forms, being in classical and colloquial Arabic, respectively. (ibid, pp. 70-71).

Andalusi nubah uses one tab' (similar to maqam) per performance, and includes several instrumental pieces and predominantly vocal pieces accompanied by instrumentation. These differ as to mizan or rhythmic pattern (wazn) (ibid, p. 68).


Gharnati is found in both Morocco and Algeria, primarily popular in Rabat and Oujda in Morocco. It is arranged in nuba like al-âla; there are four unfinished nuba and twelve complete ones. Orchestras consist of kvîtra, mandolin, banjo, oud and kamenjah. The word "Gharnati" comes from the Andalusian city of Granada.

Gharnati refers to a variety of Moroccan music originating in Andalusia. Its name is related, being derived from the Arabic name of the Spanish city of Granada.

Concert in Granada of Dar Gharnatia, Andalusian music group from Tlemcen (Algeria)

Gharnati constitutes the musical mode most used in the Moroccan city of Oujda, where besides this musical kind is omnipresent and where one organizes each year in June the International Festival of the Gharnati music. This musical art was preserved mainly at Tlemcen in Algeria and Oujda, near the Algerian border.

lunes, 17 de noviembre de 2014

Madrasa ﻣﺩﺭﺴة of the Nasrid monarch Yusuf I in Granada

In the first half of the fourteenth century, the Nasrid Sultan Yusuf I ordered the construction of a madrasa next to Granada's congregational mosque.

Fragments from the original façade are preserved in the Museo Arqueológico y Etnológico de Granada, including an inscription, which states that the building was dedicated in the month of Muhurram in 750 (March or April 1349).

It is located on the street now known as Calle Oficios. The madrasa was built at the heart of the city, near the main mosque (now the site of the Granada Cathedral) and the Alcaicería, then the elite bazaar where silk, gold, linen and other cloth were traded. Ibn al-Khatib was an early student there; among his teachers were Ibn al-Fajjar, Ibn Marzuq, and Ibn al-Hayy (language and law); Ibn al-Hakam and the poet Ibn al-Yayyab (rhetoric); and Sheik Yahya ibn Hudayl (medicine and philosophy).

The building

As was typical of the works of Yusuf I, the building was splendid, with a white marble entrance. The building was originally organized around a pool in the center.

The only surviving part of the school is the prayer room. It is a square-shaped room oriented by its mihrab. Carved, polychrome plaster covers the upper portions of the walls and doorjamb. Calligraphy consistent in style and content with other Nasrid monuments is an integral part of the decoration. Muqarnas in the four corners of the room form an upward transition into an octagonal drum that has sixteen windows with pierced screens.

Above the prayer room is an octagonal wooden ceiling with interlaced star shapes, open in the center and topped by a smaller octagonal drum with sixteen windows and a plaster-decorated ceiling. (Segments of the ceiling have been modified during restoration.)

The façade was decorated with inscriptions of poetry and philosophy. Among these were the words "If in your spirit you provide a place for the desire to study and to flee from the shadows of ignorance, you will find in it the beautiful tree of honor. Make study shine like stars to the great, and to those who are not, bring to them the same brilliance."

Baroque façade of the Madrasa of Granada (detail).
After the completion of the Reconquista and the conversion to the Cabildo an adjacent house was Baroque, so that what we have today is essentially an 18th-century building with elements of older buildings. The oratory or mihrab is original from the 14th century; the Sala de los Caballeros XXIV is Mudéjar.

annexed to enlarge the building. The octagonal Mudéjar Sala de Cabildos was constructed in this era; its 1513 decoration included an inscription alluding to the Christian conquest of the city. Eventually the pool was filled in and converted to other uses, although even after the modifications of 1554–1556, Francisco Henríquez de Jorquera describes a patio with a pool and a garden. The building was subject to major modifications, especially in the 1722–1729 at the height of the

The building, which belongs to the University of Granada, underwent extensive archeological excavations in 2006–2007. As of February 2009, restoration of the interior was just beginning, and the building is not currently open to the public.


The madrasa is located on this street called Calle Oficios
The Madrasa functioned as a university until late 1499 or early 1500, under the Treaty of Granada (1491), under which the sultan Boabdil of the Emirate of Granada surrendered to the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella. However, towards the end of 1499, the policy of tolerance and compliance with that treaty under archbishop Hernando de Talavera, came to an abrupt end with the arrival in Granada of Gonzalo Jiménez de Cisneros, who substituted a policy of forced religious conversions.

This new policy led to an uprising in Granada, above all in the Albaicín. Cisneros took advantage of the situation to assault the Madrasah, the contents of whose library was brought to the plaza of Bib-Rambla and burned in a public bonfire. Once pillaged and closed, the building was designated in 1500 by Ferdinand II to be the new Casa del Cabildo (city hall).

In 1858 the town hall moved to the Plaza del Carmen, and the building was sold to be used as a textile warehouse. Two years later, the principal inscription of the Mihrab was discovered. There was also some fire damage in this era; the Echeverría family, owners of the building, hired Mariano Contreras, the same architect who restored the Alhambra, to undertake the repairs.

The city bought back the building in the early 20th century, leading to further restoration work in 1939. There was an unsuccessful attempt in 1942 to turn the building into the seat of a new Instituto de los Reyes Católicos del Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas ("Catholic Monarchs Institute of the Superior Council of Scientific Investigations"). In 1976, the building became part of the University of Granada.

viernes, 14 de noviembre de 2014

The Banuelo baths, the old arab baths in Granada

Walking along the street you can easily miss the door of these impressive and well-preserved Arab baths, the Banuelo, also known as Aammim Alyawza (Banos del Nogal).
The Banuelo baths are located at the bottom of a private house in the Carrera del Darro, at the foot of the Alhambra, and show how skilled the Spanish Arabs were a thousand years ago.

The Banuelo of Granada is one of the few such establishments that were saved from destruction by

the Catholic Monarchs, as among the Christians they had a reputation comparable to that of brothels.

These Arab baths have survived because of the building on top of it of a private home, commenced almost from the day of the Spanish occupation of the city.

 In 1918, The Banuelo was declared a National Monument and was restored by the architect Balbas. Surprises to be found in The Banuelo are their large size and good level of conservation. Beautiful porticos are based on the Arab style.

Construction of The Banuelo seems to date from the Eleventh Century. The baths are undoubtedly the oldest and best-preserved Arab baths in Spain, and the oldest work of Muslim Granada.

You can access The Banuelo through a small house, renovated in the Christian era. Its rooms are rectangular and it has various chambers with brick arches, with a star-like window in the roof for allowing in light.

The entrance to the Banuelo is free

Texto by:
Phothos by: Feroen Florijn

jueves, 13 de noviembre de 2014

The Corral del Carbon, one of the oldest arab monuments in Granada

Located in Calle Mariana Pineda, in the heart of Granada, Corral del Carbon is the oldest monument left us by the Arabs. 

The "Corral del Carbón", formerly called "Alhóndiga Gigida" was constructed in the early 14th century 
by Yusuf I and was used as a type of warehouse for merchandise and also as a shelter for merchants.

It is of special interest because it is the only remaining Moorish caravansara or fundak that still remains as it was in Spain.

The building has a quadrangular shape, with an entrance pavilion which has a large horseshoe arch that gives access to the vestibule which is covered with a cupola embellished with "muqarnas" (decorative motif characteristic of the Muslim architecture, based on vertically juxtaposed bows or prisms). Above the entrance door there is a small twin window. From here we enter the "'ostowan" or waiting vestibule with arches on its sides, that leads to the courtyard surrounded by galleries that open onto the three floors of the building. At the center of the courtyard we find a stone made fountain with two spouts.

The yard is laid out in typical Islamic design, with a symetrical courtyard, mosaic floorings, and a central water trough, which is the original drinking trough.

The paving of black and white stones indicates that this is a prosperous area, with the function of keeping down the dust from the floor. The black stones were gathered from the River Genil and the white from the River Darro

There is a government run craft/ Art shop housed in one of the buildings surrounding the courtyard, these were originally stables, used to house the mules of the merchants.

The upper galleried rooms were originally used by the merchants for making buisness deals, socialising and sleeping.

In Christian times it was used as an accommodation for coal merchants, from where it gets its name. Later, it became a playhouse for comedies, and finally, a neighbourhood until 1933 when the State acquired it and the architect "Leopoldo Torres Balbás" restored it.

martes, 11 de noviembre de 2014

Travel the halal way and discover The Alpujarras, Granada

Granada, Spain is an extraordinary city that invites travelers to explore its rich heritage and scenic attractions. Just south of the city, huddled on the southern hillside of the vast Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, sits the much lesser known magical and charming region of the Alpujarra.

Some fifty villages of varying sizes and common cultural features make up this historic area that spills over both the provinces of Granada and Almería. The villages also share a common topography; they perch along the slopes of two dramatic ravines that extend from the peaks of the Sierra Nevada and cut southeastward to form the basins of the Guadalfeo and the Andaraz Rivers.

The name for this region may come from the Arabic al-buqscharra, which could be translated as “the land of the pastures” given the abundance of water found in this fertile zone. The area is not easy to reach; the steep mountainside landscape has obliged villagers to build a network of terraces and ditches to optimize irrigation. The hilly geography does not facilitate the use of machinery for carrying out agricultural work. While this has posed a historical challenge to agriculturists, it has helped preserve a natural aura that offers observers a peek into a distant age that appears lost in time.

After the fall of the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada in 1492, the Andalusia Muslims were required by law to convert to Catholicism under the Catholic monarchs after 1502. Muslims who refused to leave their Andalusia homes to go to Northern Africa were known as Moriscos.

They remained in this area until 1568, when the Morisco revolt lead by Abén Humeya (whose Christian name of Fernando de Válor) was violently defeated a year later by the Spanish king’s army. After the Castilian victory, by order of the crown, two Morisco families were permitted to continue living in each town to teach new Christian settlers from Castile, Leon, and Galicia how to work the challenging terraced land and maintain the irrigation system so vital to the local agriculture. Unfortunately, the plan proved unsuccessful, and the traditional farming systems were lost in favor of methods adopted from the central and northern regions of the peninsula.

The influence of Northern Africa has been maintained in the region’s architecture, clearly related to the Berbers, with homes that appear stacked or overlapping to form passageway-tunnels called “tinaos”. Houses also have flat roofs called launa, which are covered with gravel, affording residents rooftop terrace spaces. There are no tiles here, and the home’s design takes advantage of every square meter, each one playing a necessary and functional role. Other Northern African elements that have been maintained in the Alpujarra include many cooking traditions, the use of jarapas (carpets made of recycled fabric), and the area’s place names such as Alcolea, Bentarique, La Taha, Ohanes…

Jarapa, traditional carpet from the Alpujarras
The most common way to visit the area is through the town of Lanjarón, one of the Alpujarra’s entry points along with Órgiva. Beyond this spa-town (famous throughout Spain for its mineral water), visitors follow winding mountain roads to cross the historic Tablate Bridge, the scene of the last great battle between Christian soldiers and Alpujarra Moriscos, the confrontation which ended the so-called “Morisco rebellion” in the third quarter of the 16th century.

A few kilometers past the bridge and around a tight curve, the scenic Poqueira River gorge offers fantastic views. The gorge is home to three towns: Capileria, bubión, and Pampaneira, names that may sound Gaelic but which are Arab in origin.

Visitors continuing on their journey may reach Trevélez, peninsular Spain’s highest town, a place famous for its hams. Hams here are cured in the cold, dry air of the Sierra Mountains, which is where the name jamón serrano comes from.

It is not surprising that this region has left an indelible impression on many observers, such as the Granada writer Pedro Antonio de Alarcón, who in 1874 published the book La Alpujarra about this area of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. In 1957, British writer Gerald Brenan published South from Granada, a story that takes place in the Alpujarra town of Yegen and which was made into a movie in 2003 by Fernando Colomo. The former drummer for the music group Genesis, Chris Stewart, who is a resident in the local mountain town of Órgiva, has recently published two enjoyable novels. They narrate the adventures of a cosmopolitan Englishman who decides to move to the seclusion of these mountains with his wife and daughter. Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalucia and A Parrot In the Pepper Tree are both highly recommendable titles.

The scenic mountain atmosphere of the Alpujarra and its charming villages make for enjoyable and memorable travel experiences. This is a recommended trip for anyone visiting Spain and a must for those going to Granada.

Text by: 
Photos by: Vive Alpujarra Proyecto

viernes, 7 de noviembre de 2014

Documentary in Arabic: The Alhambra, an Andalusi palatine city in Granada (Spain). قصر الحمراء. التراث نظري.

The Alhambra, in Granada, Spain is one of the most evocative buildings I've ever visited in my life. It's an absolute must-visit for any traveller to Andalucia - the biggest province in Southern Spain.
The Alhambra was an Arabic fortress built while the Moors (Muslims from North Africa) still laid claim to this part of Spain - back in the c13th or so.

"Alhambra" is a Spanish rendering of the Arabic words "qa'lat al-Hamra", meaning "red castle". The significance of the "red" part is easy to see, as it comes from the dusty red stone that was used to build the thick walls around the castle.

The entire site has got a magic feeling to it - a raise-the-hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck kind of buzz that envelops you from the moment you begin the steep climb to its entrance-way.
The Alhambra rustles with incredible Arabic myths, and is filled with the whispers of ghosts from times gone by. It's staggeringly beautiful, and feels like a creation from an old story-book, miraculously brought to life.

The setting is also like something from a picture postcard. The Alhambra stands proudly atop of one of the steep vantage-points of Granada - a hill called La Sabika.

The castle lurks behind blood-red boundary walls, and is framed against the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain-range, some distance behind.

miércoles, 5 de noviembre de 2014

Artinya Apa Agensi Pariwisata Halal?

'Halal' adalah istilah yang disebutkan dalam Al-Qur'an yang artinya 'diizinkan, sehat dan bermanfaat, hal ini merupakan cerminan perilaku dari orang Muslim.

Ketika seorang turis Muslim memilih tujuan tempat liburan, sebagian besar waktu mereka akan di habiskan untuk berlibur ke tempat yang memiliki akses ke fasilitas dan pelayanan sesuai dengan tatacara gaya kehidupan menurut hukum Islam.

Hal ini menyebabkan awal dari terbentuknya pasar pariwisata Islam di Andalusia, Spanyol dan Eropa pada umumnya, di mana jenis pariwisata Islam ini perlu untuk dikembangkan.

Oleh karena itu, diadakanlah kongres pertama Pariwisata Internasional tentang 'Halal' di mana Alhamratour juga hadir, ini merupakan forum perintis di Eropa yang digelar beberapa hari lalu di Granada, di mana industri pariwisata global akan bertemu untuk memperdalam khasanah pariwisata Islam di Eropa. Peserta yang hadir dari berbagai macam pariwisatapun turut serta untuk melaporkan parawisata Islam terkini. 

Pada tahun 2013 Alhamratour lahir di Granada (Andalusia, Spanyol), ini adalah lembaga pariwisata yang halal, keseluruhan pegawainya terdiri dari orang-orang Muslim Spanyol dan negara lainnya untuk mendukung parawisata Islam di Eropa.

Alhamratour  mengawasi semua kegiatan perjalanan bagi semua tamu-tamu pariwisata agar hanya mengkonsumsi produk dan pelayanan yang halal, sehingga tamu-tamu tersebut bisa menikmati perjalannya tanpa harus ragu-ragu karena biasanya seorang Muslim akan merasakan perbedaan yang signifikan ketika jalan-jalan di negara non-Islam. 

Oleh sebab itu, untuk membuat suatu perjalanan pariwisata yang halal dan menyenangkan, Alhamratour menemani dan menyediakan transportasi serta memandu tamu-tamu parawisata dari kedatangan sampai kepulangannya di beberapa tempat tujuan dengan berbagai aktivitas pariwisata di Maroko, Spanyol dan negara lain di Eropa, dengan cara menggabungkan perjalanan beberapa negara menjadi satu perjalanan pariwisata.

Pelayanan pemandu pariwisata ini akan ditawarkan dalam bahasa Spanyol, Arab, Inggris, Perancis dan Jerman. 

Dalam pelayanannya, Alhamratour memanfaatkan kekayaan warisan Muslim Spanyol dengan memberikan informasi untuk menelusuri jejak-jejak budaya Islam. Selain memperlihatkan monumen-monumen yang lebih terkenal dari setiap tempat, Alhamratour akan memberikan penjelasan tentang warisan sejarah Andalusia yang sangat kaya di seluruh negara Spanyol serta pastinya tidak lupa juga untuk mengunjungi semua tempat-tempat Islam di Spanyol pada zaman sekarang ini. Alhamratour juga memiliki kegiatan kunjungan ke beberapa masjid dan komunitas-komunitas yang penting dan berpengaruh hingga saat ini.

martes, 4 de noviembre de 2014

Travel the halal way and discover.... the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona!

The Sagrada Família, Antoni Gaudí's unfinished masterpiece, is one of Barcelona's most popular
tourist attractions. Construction on this church will continue for at least another decade, but it has already become Barcelona's most important landmark.

A New Church

The idea for the construction of a new church was launched by a devout organisation whose goal was to bring an end to the de-christianisation of the Barcelonese, which had started with the industrialization and was caused by the increasing level of education of the Catalan population. 

The organisation purchased a plot of land in the new Eixample district in 1877. The architect Francisco de Paula del Villar designed a neo-Gothic church and led the construction which started in 1882.


Antoni Gaudí's Design

 One year later, the modernist architect Antoni Gaudí took over as lead architect at the age of thirty-one. From that moment on, Gaudí devoted most of his life to the construction of the church.

Instead of sticking to the original plans, Gaudí changed the design drastically. The neo-Gothic style made way for Gaudí's trademark modernist style, which was based on forms found in nature. When he died in 1926 only one facade (the Nativity Facade), one tower, the apse and the crypt were finished.

Because Gaudí was constantly improvising and changing the design while construction was going on, he left few designs and models. And most of these were destroyed in 1936 during the Civil War. 

Eighteen Towers

Still, architects now have a clear idea of what Gaudí had in mind. The last version of his design called for a church 95m/312ft long and 60m/197ft wide. The church will be able to accommodate some thirteen thousand people. When finished, the Sagrada Família will have a total of eighteen towers.

Four towers on each of the three facades represent the twelve apostles. The towers reach a height of 90 to 120 meters (394ft). Another four towers represent the four evangelists. They will surround the largest, 170m/558ft tall tower, dedicated to Jesus Christ. The last tower, dedicated to Virgin Mary, will be built over the apse.


After Gaudí's death in 1926 construction slowed dramatically due to a lack of funds and the outbreak of the Civil War.

Construction pace started to pick up again in the mid 1950s and now two facades and eight towers have been completed. The main nave was roofed in 2000. At that time construction was expected to last for another hundred years, but modern technology has enabled architects to speed up construction so that the Sagrada Família is now slated for completion in 2026, the centenary of Gaudí's death. 


The first facade, facing east, is known as the Nativity Facade. It was finished by Gaudí himself and is
ornamented in a Baroque fashion with motifs of animals and plants.

Nativity Facade
Opposite the Nativity Facade is the Passion Facade. Construction started in 1954, but only in 1987 sculptures depicting the crucified Jesus Christ were added. As soon as they were installed, the abstract figures caused a storm of criticism, as the style was very different from Gaudí's.

The third and main facade is the Glory Facade. Construction of this facade - the most monumental of the three - started in 2002 and is still ongoing. This facade, on the south side of the church, will picture life and death. 

Visiting Sagrada Família

Interior Sagrada Familia
Even though the Sagrada Família is far from finished, the remarkable church is well worth a visit. You can visit the crypt were Gaudí is buried as well as the transept and central nave with its giant, tree-like pillars and spectacular vaulting. A museum narrates the history of the church and tells the story of its great architect.

You can also visit the towers. An elevator and a long walk will lead you to the top of a tower from where you have a magnificent view over Barcelona. The climb is not recommended for those with fear of heights or for people with claustrophobia!

Send us a request trip and add this excusion in Barcelona to your travel 


lunes, 3 de noviembre de 2014

Travel the halal way and discover.... Casa Batlló in Barcelona!

The colour and fantasy of the Casa Batlló captivates passers-by on the Passeig de Gràcia (Barcelona). Standing halfway up this elegant boulevard and in a strongly contrasting style to the neighbouring houses, the Casa Amatller and Casa Lleó Morera, Gaudí’s building reveals the splendour of an architect who was able to work on this project with total creative freedom, Antoni Gaudí.

The architect Antoni Gaudí undertook a radical refurbishment of a building in Barcelona’s Passeig de Gràcia dating from 1875 to create one of his boldest works. 

Gaudí’s imaginative efforts were key to the development of the project, as was the decorative work of the artisans who collaborated with him between 1904 and 1906. A simple glance gives rise to myriad interpretations.

The discs of multicoloured glazed-ceramics and broken shards of stained glass, placed with precision, depict flowers and water lilies and play with the reflections of the sunlight. This vast impressionist painting is often interpreted as the surface of the rolling sea in the heart of Passeig de Gràcia.

On the first floor of the Casa Batlló, a long sandstone balcony allows us to look inside the elegant mezzanine, while the other floors have balconies in the shape of masks. And at the top, a scaly ceramic skin and turret crowned by a four-armed cross remind us of the legend of Saint George. Inside the Casa Batlló, you can visit the mezzanine, see the ceramic skylight, the double attic space with its sequence of catenary arches, and the rooftop with its colourful mosaiced chimneys. An explosion of creative freedom where Gaudí spared no effort in creating a functional and modern house.

Add this excursion sending your request trip to Alhamratour