One of the ways to understand what the Alhambra Palace Hotel has meant and means to Granada is through memories. Memories are what, generation after generation, by means of the written form or imagery, nourish and give sense to the present time. Unconsciously, they are the subject of the legends, though also the pillars of real history. And, what hotel can boast more than a century of history? What hotel, inside and outside our town, feeds imagination and legend to display?
The spirits of the great characters who lived there still wander around its rooms. Look over the terrace and depart with kings, queens, princes, heads of state; listen in silence the words of Nobel Prizes such as Severo Ochoa or Fishlerder; talk about colours and cloudscapes with painter Sorolla while the sun shades off behind the Alhama mountains; chat in the small theatre with García Lorca, Jean Cocteau, Alberti, Vargas Llosa; know about versions or musical projects by words of Manuel de Falla or Angel Barrios or Rostropovich; drink tea with Lawrence Olivier, Greer Garson or James Steward; stay with famous singers, actors and actresses, bullfighters, athletes… or simply enjoy the luxurious suites, rooms and terraces with breath taking views, next to the forest of the Alhambra.
When Granadinian sunsets reach the terrace, the air turns golden. With the city at our feet, a light that merely exists covers roofs, fountains, churches and domes in gold. The River Genil runs along glittering playfully and the sounds –voices, some distant music, lost words, climb up softened by a celestial whispers, and they are also made of gold. As some say it was quoted by García Lorca, “Ah! the people from Granada, twilight drinkers!
When referring to the cultural heritage of the town, hotels are rarely mentioned. However, this form of hospitality to the traveller or visitor, necessary in every situation, is rarely highlighted. With some exceptions, it is only incidentally noted, perhaps for being taken for granted, becoming sometimes the main protagonist in narrations or events. Mary and Joseph could not find a hotel –an inn at those times, and had to shelter in the stable in Bethelem. And we cannot forget during the Middle Ages the inns found in Don Quixote or during Romanticism, as part of the vast travel literature –Fernández de Moratín, Victor Hugo, Edmondo de Amicis, Theóphile Gautier… Hence, nowadays there are hotels which, despite the technological advances, comforts and customs, keep the charm and flavour which distinguishes a vintage wine. Even more, they are a must visit in some cities: The Negresco Hotel in Nice, Raffles Hotel in Singapore, Alfonso XIII in Seville, Alhambra Palace in Granada…
Another way to understand what the Alhambra Palace Hotel means to our town would be through the landscape; this time from the outside. From a bird’s eye view, although time passes –well, or we do, because time goes on his way and does not care about us,… I mean, from a bird’s eye view -which in future would be at drone’s view, ancient Granada –Ilíberis, Garnatah, is seen from the air as a powerful Armada, swelled and full sails, navigating over the calm swell of the Genil meadow. The impressive ships facing the fleet include, to the right, the church of San Cristóbal –placed in “El Tambor” hill; at the centre, the Albayzin, with the Church of San Miguel Bajo at the front and the Alhambra, with the Watch Tower as the lead ship; to the left, the Hill of the Martyrs.
Well… among such an impressive display, the Moorish forces allied with the Spanish troops, no spyglass would be needed to distinguish the Alhambra Palace Hotel as the ship’s figurehead facing this flank, sailing towards the meadow, over all this serene beauty, in the shadow of the Sierra Nevada peaks, which, covered in snow or bare, stay in the margins of seductive lyric stories while knowing they are the main characters of such narrations. The snow domineering the summits and the very sea, still invisible, trying to appear over the horizon.
To sum up, from all the ways to approach the existence of this hotel and its happy topographic and time circumstances, whether in one’s mind or using one’s senses, the most suitable way to integrate it within the spirit and features of Granada is to consider it as it is: a splendorous reality which comes from a glorious past and faces the future with excitement. It is the herald of the city of Granada, which, together with the Alhambra as the letter of introduction, proclaims its treasures all over the world, and, at the same time, offers shelter to the pilgrim who approaches its walls, towers, lookouts and bell towers.
National Prize for Literature
García Lorca International Prize
Hotel Alhambra Palace Alhambra Palace Hotel
Introduction. Ignacio Durán Caffarena
The Duke San Pedro de Galatino, promoter of the Alhambra Palace Hotel (1857-1936)
Politics and Entrepreurship during the Spanish Restoration Period. Manuel Titos Martínez
The Alhambra Palace Hotel: An Artistic Vision. María Teresa Hontoria Puentes
A Hotel in the Limelight. Andrés Molinari
The First Post Alhambra Palace Hotel, Carlos Pascual del Coso
Epilogue. Marianella Bertini Méndez
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