Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What I Learned in Granada by Adam Katz, Age 11, part 4

Continuing on the same track we left off last time, we are going to talk about big red things.

Alhambra (alif-lam-hha-mim-ra-alif) means "the big red thing." No kidding. It is indeed big and red. It's like Clifford the Building. Legend has it that the hamsa (derrived from the word for 'five,' it refers to a hand-symbol qua good-luck-charm, common in the Middle East and therefore in Moorish Spain) which sits atop the main gates of Alhambra (which means THE red thing so the practice of calling it "la alhambra" or "the alhambra" is about as redundant as a divorcing an ex-wife) touches the key which sits further down, but on the same gate, and unlocks the secret door (stone can't move, I know) the arabs who have been sleeping under Granada will awaken and restore the beautiful silk-empire moorish city of old.

Sounds a bit far-fetched, I know, and while it's technically illegal even for muslim BARDS to resort to the sauce...WELL. If you were as confused as I am as to what the heck a hand is doing on the outside of a fortress (maybe to extend a friendly gesture: how do you DO, Mr. Invader?) you'd be tossing about for a Guinness or three, too. And speaking of Guinness, did you know that nearby Sevilla is home to the Guinness-book-of-world-records biggest-floor-space-of-any-cathedral cathedral?. It's huge. It's like Clifford the Cathedral only not really red. Why so big and more importantly, how did they know about Clifford back in the 14th century? Well, they had to show up the mosque they destroyed to build it (except for the minaret, preserved, as in many cases, but outfitted with a cross and bells). But even that--why was the mosque so big? Well, often they had to show up the Visigothic church they destroyed to build the mosque.

Round it goes. Where does it stop? The Jews, generally.

What? Too soon?