Up and Down

Those Moorish settlers in Andalusia sure loved to build their fortresses and towns on the tops of mountains. It makes for beautiful, picturesque settings with 360 degree views from the top, but it makes getting up to those places an exhausting enterprise when it is ninety degrees Fahrenheit. Basically, we had to become quite comfortable trekking both uphill and back down again. My muscles still feel it.

Exhibit A: The Alcazaba in Malaga. This hill wasn’t too bad, but 500 feet above the fortress was the castle, which you climbed to very steeply, very quickly. It offered lovely views from the top, but getting there was pretty much the worst kind of hell as there was no shade at the time of day we visited. (I will have to post the payoff of the steep trek later. We had beautiful 360 degree views of the Mediterranean and the city when we arrived at the top, which I captured with my Flip camera).

Ronda also was another engineering feat, built by the Moors at the top of a gorge. In order to get water for the town, they built a water mine through the rock that enabled slaves to go down and up to bring water to the city.

Here is the entrance to the water mine:

The stairs were steep and exhausting. It seemed like a long way down to the river and a long way back up again. Ronda was a Moorish holdout for quite sometime (one of the last, with the exception of Granada). Because of its high situation, Castillian forces didn’t know how to attack it. Finally, they came from the river and were ultimately able to secure those same water mines that were the lifeline to the city.

Our visit to Granada could have been subtitled “Down, Up, Down, and Up Again: A Tourist’s Tale.” We parked the rental car in the lot by the Alhambra. We then walked down to the city below the Alhambra. The view from below the hillside where the Alhambra was built looked like this:

(That is it, way at the top.)

Then, we walked up the city streets in the old Moorish quarter so we could get the lovely view of the Alhambra that looked like this:

Finally, we walked back down to the bottom of the town, across the river, and back up again when it was time for us to actually visit the Alhambra.

The view of Moorish Granada then looked something like this:

If you are going to visit any of the pueblos blancos in Andalusia, you better be prepared to walk uphill. This village is called Tolox, and it has the highest proportionate population of people over 100 in the world. It is presumably because of the crystal clear water that comes from the mountain spring that feeds the city and also because the residents stay in wonderful shape from walking uphill all day long.

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