Robin's Adventures

Morocco, Spain, & Portugal
A Picturesque Adventure

The Alhambra

The Alhambra, which was built as a small fortress in 889, did not become important until the mid 13th century when it was renovated and converted into a royal palace and fortress under the rule of the Muslim emirs in the Nasrid dynasty. The name, Alhambra, means red and refers to the color of the clay that was used to make the walls of the fortress.

More Alhambra

The outer portion of the Alhambra consists of fortified walls with towers. Inside the walls there were the Nasrid Palaces, which were the residences of the royal family, and the medina, which consisted of homes for members of the court and other officials along with their families.

Church of Saint Mary and Palace of Charles V

The Moors were expelled from the country after the Christian conquest in 1492 and changes were made to many of the structures within the Alhambra. In addition, new buildings, such as the Church of Saint Mary and the Palace of Charles V, were added.

The Church of Saint Mary, which was built between 1581 and 1618, was built on the site of a former mosque.

Charles V wanted a palace in the Alhambra that was grand enough to be fitting for his station as the Holy Roman Emperor. Construction began on the palace in 1527. The building was designed to be a square with an inner courtyard that was circular. The building, however, was left unfinished until 1957 when the roof was finally added.

Nasrid Palaces

The Nasrid Palaces were the highlight of the Alhambra. The elaborately carved plaster walls and the geometric shapes on the ceilings are stunning. Some areas had colorful designs in glazed tiles and many of the windows were covered with delicate latticework.

The royal quarters had a central courtyard, the Court of the Myrtles, that had a large rectangular pool surrounded by hedges of myrtle bushes. Not only did the pool help keep the surrounding rooms cool, but it was also a sign of wealth and power because it was difficult and expensive to keep the pool filled.

More Nasrid Palaces

Some of the ceilings in the Nasrid Palaces had a decorative type of vaulting that looks like stalactites. This form of ornamental ceiling, known as Mocarabe, is often used in Islamic architecture.

Court of the Lions

Several ornate palace halls surround the patio of the lions, which is a courtyard with a fountain that has twelve marble lion statues. Every hour, one of the lion statues squirts water from its mouth.

One of the halls adjacent to the lion courtyard, the Hall of Kings, has a painting that is believed to be of ten Nasrid Kings. This part of the palace also had some impressive Mocarabe or stalactite ceilings.

After a full day at the Alhambra, we returned to our ship in Malaga which afforded us a beautiful view of the port all lit up at night.


Gibraltar is a British territory in a very strategic location at the entrance of the Mediterranean Sea. The territory, which has an area of 2.6 square miles, is one of the world's most densely populated territories with about 12,840 people per square mile. Gibraltar consists of the 1,398 foot tall Rock of Gibraltar surrounded by narrow coastal lowlands.

St. Michael's Cave

St. Michael's Cave, which is located in the upper portion of the Rock of Gibraltar, was created slowly over thousands of years by rainwater seeping through the limestone rock. Over time, long passages formed that were covered in stalactites, stalagmites, and other beautiful cave formations, including a small underground lake.

During World War II, the cave was set up to be used as an emergency military hospital. Currently, the largest chamber of the cave is used as a theater for various types of musical and theatrical performances. The acoustics make the cave an excellent venue and the theater has seating for about 100 patrons.

Barbary Macaque

There are about 300 Barbary Macaques living in Gibraltar, which makes them the only wild monkeys living anywhere on the European continent. The care and feeding of Gibraltar's monkeys, from 1915 until 1991, was assigned to the military and the officer in charge was given the title "Keeper of the Apes."

When the Royal forces were stationed in Gibraltar, any monkey needing medical attention was taken to the Royal Naval Hospital and treated as any enlisted serviceman would be treated. Currently, the Gibraltar Natural History Society and local vets oversee the monkeys and provide them with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Barbary Macaque