The Lands of the Saracen eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 452 pages of information about The Lands of the Saracen.

Baylen is a wretched place, celebrated for having the first palm-tree which those see who come from Madrid, and for the victory gained by Castanos over the French forces under Dupont, which occasioned the flight of Joseph Buonaparte from Madrid, and the temporary liberation of Spain from the French yoke.  Castanos, who received the title of Duke de Baylen, and is compared by the Spaniards to Wellington, died about three months ago.  The battle-field I passed in the night; the palm-tree I found, but it is now a mere stump, the leaves having been stripped off to protect the houses of the inhabitants from lightning.  Our posada had one of them hung at the window.  At last, the diligence came, and at three P.M., when I ought to have been in sight of Granada, I left the forlorn walls of Baylen.  My fellow-passengers were a young sprig of the Spanish nobility and three chubby-faced nuns.

The rest of the journey that afternoon was through a wide, hilly region, entirely bare of trees and habitations, and but partially cultivated.  There was something sublime in its very nakedness and loneliness, and I felt attracted to it as I do towards the Desert.  In fact, although I have seen little fine scenery since leaving Seville, have had the worst of weather, and no very pleasant travelling experiences, the country has exercised a fascination over me, which I do not quite understand.  I find myself constantly on the point of making a vow to return again.  Much to my regret, night set in before we reached Jaen, the capital of the Moorish kingdom of that name.  We halted for a short time in the large plaza of the town, where the dash of fountains mingled with the sound of the rain, and the black, jagged outline of a mountain overhanging the place was visible through the storm.

All night we journeyed on through the mountains, sometimes splashing through swollen streams, sometimes coming almost to a halt in beds of deep mud.  When this morning dawned, we were ascending through wild, stony hills, overgrown with shrubbery, and the driver said we were six leagues from Granada.  Still on, through a lonely country, with now and then a large venta, or country inn, by the road-side, and about nine o’clock, as the sky became more clear, I saw in front of us, high up under the clouds, the snow-fields of the Sierra Nevada.  An hour afterwards we were riding between gardens, vineyards, and olive orchards, with the magnificent Vega of Granada stretching far away on the right, and the Vermilion Towers of the Alhambra crowning the heights before us.

Chapter XXXV.

Granada And The Alhambra.

Mateo Ximenez, the Younger—­The Cathedral of Granada—­A Monkish Miracle—­Catholic Shrines—­Military Cherubs—­The Royal Chapel—­The Tombs of Ferdinand and Isabella—­Chapel of San Juan de Dios—­The Albaycin—­View of the Vega—­The Generalife—­The Alhambra—­Torra de la Vela—­The Walls and Towers—­A Visit to Old Mateo—­The Court of the Fish-pond—­The Halls of the Alhambra—­Character of the Architecture—­Hall of the Abencerrages—­Hall of the Two Sisters—­The Moorish Dynasty in Spain.

  “Who has not in Granada been,
  Verily, he has nothing seen.”

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The Lands of the Saracen from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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