A Moorish Treasure
Ladies and gentlemen, senoras y senores, welcome to the multi-level masterpiece that is the Alcazaba of Malaga.
After you pay your €2.20 entrance fee and walk through the turnstile, you follow the brick and tile path around a corner and through the first alcove. Now you are inside the outer walls. The path is lined with orange trees, descendants of the trees brought to the Iberian peninsula over a thousand years ago by the people who built this palace.
Looking to your left you see the towering inner wall, with arrow slits near the top. This building was well defended.
As you follow the inlaid path through more doorways around the seaward side of the palace, you will see the city appearing below you.
Through the next doorway there is a choice of paths. The one to the right takes us to the snack bar. That is for later. Now,we go left.
It brings us to a garden with fountains and tilework and flowering jasmine. And more views over the city.
There are a few exits from this garden. We leave by the alcove at the back of this picture.
The path now has a watercourse in its centre, lined with marble. The rippling water catches the sunlight and softens the stone.
We follow the watercourse through the next alcove. The alcove has a pointed arch, a technology well known to the muslim builders of this palace. It was copied in northern Europe a century later on a much larger scale, in the grand gothic cathedrals of France.
Following more steps and twists and turns, we are now inside the inner walls.
We come to another garden. We are now near the centre of the palace.
There are more roofed rooms here, and more views over the city.
The carved stonework is exquisite, and lovingly restored. Though I did not see any carved quotations from the Quran. Perhaps they were destroyed during the reconquista, when this palace fell to the christians at the end of the fifteenth century.
Leaving the garden we come to a courtyard with two pools. This is a tranquil place. No more views of the city from here. The turquoise and white tiles and the deep blue sky overhead are the dominant influences. It is a place for contemplation, for quiet conversation.
The final court has a single pool in its centre, fed from a circular fountain at each end. Here I can think clearly, without any distraction from outside.
I feel the genius of the muslim builders of this palace. It makes me wonder what motivated them. For me the palace represents a flowering of a civilisation. A flowering by definition means an ending, in the trust that something else will grow and flower in its turn.
After the christian victory over the muslim rulers of Malaga a church was built, Santa Maria della Victoria, our lady of Victory. Next to the church there is a courtyard that looks not unlike one of the courtyards of this palace.