I recently returned from our first family international trip – we travelled through Spain, starting at Madrid, and moving South to stop at Toledo, Granada and Cordoba. It was a fabulous trip, and I highly recommend all of these towns.
We booked this as I typically do – with a one way to somewhere, (MAD in this case) that we would figure out how to get back from, and what we would do there later. This time, Granada became our goal. We elected to stop off at Toledo on the way down and Cordoba on the return in order to break up the 4hr drive.
The Alhambra Palace
The Alhambra was completed in 1353 by Muhammed V, though its earliest references were from 889 to the fortress of Alcazabar, which was later restored and the Alhambra we now know is built around it.
The Palace was truly exceptional, you can see my photo album here.
We needed to fuel up on caffeine on the morning of our Alhambra tour, and the surly security wouldn’t let us pass with our Cafe con Leche, so we browsed the giftshop as we finished them. A book struck me, it was called Islamic Geometric Patterns. These patterns are a massive design feature of the Palace (and many other Islamic buildings) and truly are beautiful. I intended to tweet a photo of the cover, but as I did the fear of repercussion struck me.
That same day the news was covering the Sydney cafe terrorist event, which was driving home the message of fear. Fear that terrorism was now affecting other countries, and that home grown terror was emerging, and almost impossible to prevent.
The sad thing is, these days people are increasingly associating Islam with terror. So much so that when I looked at this book I wondered how people would react to the word Islam.
I was lucky. By being there, on the ground in Granada I could see a beauty in Islam, in its designs and patterns, and appreciate its rules of Halal and Haram these terms often we think of just restrictive diets, but they are actually laws that mean ‘Permissible’ (Halal) and Sinful, and forbidden (Haram). As a non religious person, I had always thought these rules a little restrictive and illogical,however, seeing them implemented in a different way made them make sense. In this journey I could learn to appreciate Haram through the Gardens and Palaces of the Alhambra. Some of which were ‘Allowed’ to have people mingling together, others were not. This Halal and Haram struck me exactly as I have thought of the times of old in Britain.
We have to be careful not to allow the mainstream media to taint our view of the world, and to challenge our understanding of it through travel, therein lies its power.