Specifically, the two mesmerizing beautifully old and intricate palaces of La Alhambra, Granada and Real Alcázar, Sevilla. The Nasrid palaces of the Alhambra were built by the last Muslim dynasty on the Iberian peninsula during the 14th century, while the Palacio de Pedro I of the Alcázar was built for the king of Castile in the same time period, with various additions and restorations over the hundreds of years since their construction. Both left us in awe of their detail and color and use of light and water to create powerfully peaceful spaces.
I have jumbled the photos here between the two sites, the (hover) titles indicate where each is taken.
Intricate domes and carved ceilings far above cap many of the spaces, often with further layers of three-dimensional arches, domes or stalactite shapes within. I could have stared at each of these for the entirety of our visits.
Light pours into these spaces from above and all around.
Several materials are used to produce related patterns and effects – whether tile, marble, or wood it may be decorating the walls or arches or ceiling and incorporate painted colors or carved openings for light and air. Somehow to me it has neither the gaudy ornateness or heavy massiveness of much of the surrounding centuries’ architecture.
As a lover of geometric pattern (rather than, say, arabic poetry calligraphy), the tile work stands out throughout these rooms – so much variation over simple themes, so many alternate paths to the same intersections of star-filled points.
Water, in fountains and pools and rivulets cut in the floors, connects the inside and outside spaces of these palaces. Incredibly worthwhile visits to both, inspiration for art and a life of balance.
My aunt Lisa came to visit from Illinois this weekend. While the wind and cooler temperatures tried to slow us down, Philadelphia’s hometown hero inspired us to brave the weather as we made our way across the city.
And our reward…
Lisa and Rocky
Lisa and Luke after running up the “Rocky Stairs”
How lucky am I to get smiles like these? Very.
We also visited Independence Hall, where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were written and signed. Here we paid homage to Philadelphia’s other hometown hero, Benjamin Franklin, and I left with even more inspiration for my Revolutions class next semester.
That’s really George Washington’s chair up there
Lisa, Luke and I ate a lot of good food, enjoyed delicious margaritas, and spent a lovely weekend catching up with each other. We are looking forward to another visit from her in the spring.
Delicious breakfast sandwiches before Lisa’s flight home
To round out the weekend, Luke and I curled up at home with giant bowls of popcorn and documentaries about the art world.
The Art of the Steal made us hesitant to visit any of the art museums in Philadelphia:
Alternatively, Waste Land inspired us with the power of art and humanity:
We recommend both.
We’ve got lots of new blog posts in the works – our first restaurant review, an essay on teaching and adaptability, and a photo journal of our (upcoming) trip to “The Shore” this weekend.
For now, I want to share a smattering of great inspiration from some of my favorite blogs:
Luke and I are really hoping to have a Maine vacation while we’re East Coasters. Reading Joy the Baker’s blog about her recent adventure there makes me even more excited to start planning our trip!
Some of you know that I went through a wild “head tattoo” phase. Right after I quit my job to become a full-time graduate student, I moved to Mexico for a semester and day-dreamed of having Dr. Lakra tattoo my head. While I never got up the courage to shave my hair off and pull the trigger, I have remained an avid fan of his work. His latest creations are these amazing designs for Absolut’s “Mexico” Limited Edition bottles.
Also inspiring in the art world, check out pine cone land art and these incredible mandalas made from old computer bits.
And last but not least, wonderful writing by Ally Turner Kirkpatrick on moving, mushroom jackpots, and transitioning from city life to country life – all the things on my mind lately wrapped up into one lovely essay.
Have a great weekend!