Spain

Two days in Madrid

I was already in Spain for my Granada Islamic Pattern trip and decided to at least visit the big cities in Spain that I used to read about in books never thinking it will be so accessible to me. After my Gaudi Quest in Barcelona, I made my way to the capital, Madrid. I didn't know what to expect because I haven't really done any prior research. I just booked a series of tickets and hoped for the best.

When I arrived to Madrid, I checked my route on google maps and it was fairly easy to find. Thankfully, the hotel I booked, Francisco I, was located perfectly in the middle of the town centre. When I booked it said it is a two-star hotel, which worried me a little, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was fabulous. I later found out that their star rating depends on facilities, so the lack of gym meant they scored less. The hotel was a little gem. The room was really chic and contemporary with a glass bathroom door. Their breakfast was yummy. They even had the traditional Spanish breakfast of freshly cut and prepared tomatoes and olive oil.

I only had two days in Madrid and I wanted to make the most of them. I started with a walk around up until Plaza de Oriente and Palacio Real De Madrid. It had a lovely garden and the weather was not too hot so I just sat on the benches enjoying the calm and watching other tourists discovering the place. Then I headed the opposite direction and walked towards the museum passing through Salamanca District and Calle Serrano with all their shopping spots. 

On the way, I saw the art academy, Real Academia De Bellas Artes De San Fernando, and went in. I am so glad I did. It was my absolute favourite thing that I experienced in Madrid. There were many fabulous pieces of art in the form of paintings, sculptures, figurines and collectables. It had three floors. Each one had two symmetrical sections. I even enjoyed the architecture of the place. I snapped so many images there. I really liked it.

Afterwards, I walked for another ten minutes until I arrived to Museo Nacional Drl Prado. The building was impressive, but all my *aww* went away when I found out that photography was not allowed. That just instantly kills the experience for me. I honestly do not remember the amazing art I have seen. At the time, they had a rare exhibition of Picasso's work starting from his early works until his blue state. I could not even take a sneaky photo. There was a security person beside each painting.

After all that walking I was exhausted and my stomach was growling, so I made my way back to the town centre where I had some delicious Italian food. The next day I was not sure what to do, so I kept walking around in circles with the huge masses of people. There were countless numbers of stores and shops. Everyone was walking with at least one shopping bag, but I could not do any shopping because I did not add that to the budget. Indeed a rookie mistake. I wish I have done a better research to discover more local spots and galleries. At that moment, I learnt the importance of prior planning.

By sunset, I was back to my hotel because I did not know how safe the area is at night and I did not want to risk it. I am not sure if I will go to Madrid again. I did not really see much to make my mind up either way, but it looks like a great place for shopping! 

Granada Study Trip

Happy Saturday everyone! 

Exactly a year ago, I started my journey towards Islamic Patterns. It has been a very slow journey, but I am making my way through it surly. Last April, I attended an amazing Islamic Patterns Intensive course in London taught by Richard Henry and Adam Williamson at their studio (read all about it, Art of Islamic Pattern). I enjoyed the course and the teaching so much that I decided to join them on their study trip in Granada.

The study trip was four days. The class was located in the Granada Mosque. Walking from the downtown was about half an hour. It was a lovely walk, but all the stairs to go right to the top were unexpected (first photo). It was really pretty going through the narrow streets regardless. 

The first day started off with a lecture about moorish history given by Tahira Whiteman, who pointed out many interesting facts about the struggle of Muslims in that region (second photo).  Afterwards, we received a guided tour by the well knowledgeable and area native Ahmad Zaruq Summers the owner of Alandalus Experience tours (third photo). In the afternoon, we were given an insightful lecture about Geometry and Symbol in the Alhambra by Richard. Then we started drawing a geometric pattern (fourth & fifth photos).

The second day was Adam's turn to give us a lecture on biomorphs and stucco carving in the Alhambra Palace (sixth photo). That was followed by drawing a biomorphic patten (seventh & eighth photos). That day had an evening session as well with Shuaib Sanchez from Al-Yarrar Ceramics (ninth photo). He is a local craftsman who have been doing Islamic patterns and ceramics for the longest time.

The third day was fully dedicated to Alhambra. I was looking forward to it so much from the first day I arrived to Granada. It was such a gem. I loved it so much that I did five posts about it. Starting with three posts on Alhambra: Alhambra I, Structure, Alhambra II, Carved Patterns and Alhambra III, Painted Patterns. Then the gardens were as amazing and I did the Generalife Structure and Generalife Patterns and Flowers posts. We spent the morning in a tour around the palaces taking in the beauty and the creativity of the place. In the afternoon, after going through the gardens we stayed under the shades to draw a lovely geometric pattern with Richard (tenth photo). 

On the morning of the last day, we were in the class drawing a challenging pattern with Richard (11th & 12th photos). You can see how focused we were in the group photo taken by the creative photographer Piotr Fedorczyk. In the afternoon, we were rewarded with an amazing leather workshop at Munira's Leather shop. We learnt how to transfer the biomorphic pattern we drew with Adam on leather. It was so much fun.     

Overall, the study trip was a great success and I got to meet some wonderful like minded people that I am still friends with *MashAllah* Take a look at their pages: JeeaSamira, SharminaPiotr.  

I can't wait for the next study trip and if you are interested in Islamic Patterns make sure to take a class with the Art of Islamic Pattern group. 

Granada's Mosque

Happy Friday beautiful people! 

For some reason, I love sharing Islamic related things on Fridays and I thought the Granada Mosque aka Mezquita De Granada will be perfect. What is unique about this mosque is that it is the first mosque in Granada after the Christine takeover 500 years ago. It is just wonderful having at least one mosque to support the Muslims in that area, who for the longest time could not practice comfortably. The design of it is simple yet functional and practical. The location of it is good as well because from that point you can see the mighty Alhambra and it makes that connection between past and present beautifully. 

Heladería los Italianos

After a very eventful day at Alhambra last September, my friends from the course and I headed to the best ice cream place in Granada, Heladería los Italianos. It was so busy and we had to stand in line for a little bit, but it was worth the wait. I got the melon ice cream and it was heavenly and refreshing. It was the perfect treat after a long day of discovery. I also liked the chandeliers in there. If you are there, give it a go! :) 

Address: Calle Gran Vía de Colón, 4, 18001 Granada, Spain

Generalife Patterns and Flowers

Happy Spring world! 

This is a follow up post on the Alhambra Gardens, Generalife. This is a post about the beautiful Islamic geometric patterns and the bright flowers there. The timing of the post seems to be perfect especially that today is the official start of the Spring!

Enjoy the photos and may you all have a lovely Spring ahead :) 

Generalife Structure

Alhambra palace is full of beauty and wonders. I previously shared the structure, the carved patterns and the painted patterns. Today I will share the beautiful Alhambra garden, the Generalife. That on its own needs two posts. This one is about the structure in the garden and the next one is about the beautiful patterns and flowers I found there. 

The Generalife was built between the 12th and the 14th centuries (Alhambra-patronato, 2015). Some parts were built by the Muslims and others were added later on by the christians (Lovegranada,2015). The structure of the garden is unique because it is a mix of solid structure (terraces & resting areas) and fluid structures (fountains of many shapes and types).

It was a very nice place to visit and relax in. You can even get a separate ticket to only visit the gardens if you have already been to the Alhambra. Enjoy the photos below! 

Alhambra III, Painted Patterns

Happy Wednesday! 

As promised here is a whole post about the beautiful painted geometric patterns of Alhambra following the Alhambra I, Structure and the Alhambra II, Carved Patterns.

There are so many gorgeous pattern in Alhambra and it is said that there are 17 types of those wall-paper/flat patterns. What is special about those patterns is the elements that unite them such as repetition, reflection and transformation (Stewart,2014). Each pattern holds different meanings and techniques. There are many resources out there explaining them further. I will discuss a few in coming posts. For now, enjoy these photos! :) 

The order of these photos starts from what I saw first. 

Alhambra II, Carved Patterns

Happy Tuesday everyone!

The Spanish travel series is still going and I am following the Alhambra I, Structure post today with another one about the beautiful carved patterns in there. As I mentioned in the first post, Alhambra is considered the architectural gem of Granada and you can see why from the pictures. The carved patterns are geometric and are either filled with calligraphy/script or biomorphic designs aka arabesque. The script -from what I observed- was one of the two, either the names of the leaders who lived there (fifth photo) or God related words/phrases. The most popular phrase of them all is لا غالب إلا الله, which translates to "Only God is Victorious/ No One Is Victorious But Allah ". This phrase is used as the centre of some geometry patterns (11th & last photos), vertically in doorways (12th photo) and horizontally on walls (first, third photos). There are other God related phrases as well, like just using the word God in it's Arabic form, Allah (fourth photo) or in a repetitive sequence (photo 13).  The patterns around the calligraphy are very interact and really detailed. Most of these carved patterns are not painted, but some have traces of faded blue. 

Enjoy these few snaps!

Tomorrow, I will post about the painted geometric patterns, so make sure you come back for that! :)