The rain predicted for today didn’t really materialize until early evening, and even then the rain was sporadic – mostly off than on. And today, we got a brief but important lesson on Spanish history. Back in high school, we had briefly learned about some Spanish Queen funding an Italian guy for his trip to America, and that was the extent of our Spanish history.
Current day Spain began with the union of Queen Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon in 1469 (not to be confused with Ferdinand III of Castile who conquered the Moors in Córdoba and Sevilla in 1236 and 1248 respectively). The two went on to establish the Catholic Monarch with the end of the 700-year Reconquista (triumph of Christianity over Islam in the Iberian peninsula) with the fall of Granada in 1492 as the last Moorish stronghold. Isabella I is probably best known for sponsoring Christopher Columbus, as well as starting the brutal Spanish Inquisition.
One of the sites we visited today is the Royal Chapel, which is essentially a big mausoleum that holds the tombs of Isabella I, Ferdinand II, Joanna (Isabella & Ferdinand’s second daughter who became the Queen of Castile and Aragon after her 2 older siblings passed), Philip (Joanna’s husband), and Miguel de la Paz, Isabella’s almost 2-year old grandson. The story with Miguel is interesting in that had he survived, he would have unified all of Iberia (Spain and Portugal). His father was the heir to the throne of Portugal, and his mother (Isabella and Ferdinand’s oldest child) was the apparent heir to the throne of Castile and Aragon had she not die an hour after Miguel was born. Would Portugal exist as a separate nation in this day in age had Miguel survived?
In the little plaza leading into the Royal Chapel sits a Islamic madrasa to the left.
The next stop was the Granada Cathedral, which is the second largest in Spain. In the 200 years it took to complete this Gothic church, builders incorporated Renaissance style interior and Baroque style chapels over time.
Lunch was at a wonderfully tasty Moroccan joint where we ended up chatting with a fellow Laguna Beacher. Small world.
With extra time left in the day, we popped into the archeological museum.
Looking for more things to see, we made our way to the Gate of Elvira.
After dinner, our last stop of the day was to catch a view of Alhambra at night.
Tomorrow is our big day – the Alhambra!