Granada – Outside Alhambra

My wife and I went to Granada, Spain primarily to experience the Alhambra, which is a vast, sprawling site consisting of multiple gardens and buildings from different eras. The Alhambra is amazing and well worth a visit, and that visit can consume a couple of days. We took another day to explore some sites in Granada apart from the Alhambra.

“Jug of the Hares” (10th century, glazed green-and-manganese pottery)

One interesting spot was the Archaeological Museum. It’s small and very approachable, which frankly is a blessing after pounding around the Alhambra for a couple of days. The museum showcases a limited number of items from their collection, but each item is of very high quality. The museum also provides excellent background information on exhibited pieces in both Spanish and English.

I found examples of ceramics from the Iberian peninsula dating from 4,500 BC forward. An example of Neolithic pottery is shown immediately below. Ancient people developed pottery in Neolithic times (6000-3000 BC), and this particular innovation was significant in that it allowed for cooking, preserving and transporting food.

The displayed items included ceramics from Phoenician and Roman times, as well as these three jugs from the 5th century – the Visigoth era. They were thrown on a wheel, which represents another innovation in human history of the time (along with iron metalworking, minting currency, and improved cultivation of olives and grapes).

There were other examples of ceramics (and other media) from history in the museum – again with interesting background information. Here are two examples.

Apart from individual pieces, I really enjoyed the overall display of items in a beautiful architectural setting. The museum is housed in an the Castilian Palace, built in the mid-1500s. Just walking around the facility is a pleasure – interesting details everywhere.

The second place I must mention are the ancient baths in Granada. Apart from ceramic plumbing used to distribute heated water through the bath complex (not visible), these baths don’t have much to do with pottery. But they are such a cool built environment that I really want to encourage anyone citing Granada to visit them.

Natural light pours into the baths from star-shaped holes cut into the ceiling. It’s amazing to wander the rough the light and space, listening to sound echo off the stone and brick walls. Wow!

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