Washington Irving lived in several places within the Alhambra

30/11/2009

The North American writer Washington Irving (1783-1859) lived in the Alhambra during his second sojourn time in Granada city, from May 4 to July 29, 1829. First he found accommodation together with his friend Prince Dolgorouki in the house of the Governor Francisco de la Serna, which was situated in the Palace of Charles V. But after a few weeks wandering around the different rooms of the Palace, he found some “mysterious” locked rooms.

After he managed, having some difficulties, to open the door, he discovered several regal rooms which had been arranged for the beautiful Queen Isabella Farnese. He was enthusiastic about the place and decided to move into these rooms despite the fact they have been left and locked. He did not regret it, as we can read in his words: “I have never enjoyed such a delightful residence… I am so in love with my rooms that I have trouble going out to a walk. Being in the core of this great uninhabited palace makes you feel a pleasant sense of peace and calm difficult to give away”.

But Irving also enjoyed other places within the Alhambra. In a letter to his friend Dolgorouki, he tells of how he takes breakfast “the way the Nasrid Kings did” in the Court of the Lions, which was not the only place he liked; the Chamber of the Ambassadors and the Court of the Lions have been his favorite places for breakfast and lunch. Another of his favorite leisure activities was to meticulously observe – from the top of the Comares Tower – the everyday life of the citizens in the city beneath him through his Doland binoculars.

Every day at dusk he went for a walk through the courts and rooms of the palace, to which he summed another attraction difficult to imagine today: Irving had a “swimming pool with lukewarm water” in one of the ponds in one of the courts, where he took a bath by night enjoying the water heated by the sun.