sub·lime: [suh-blahym] adjective, noun, verb, -limed, -lim·ing.
1. elevated or lofty in thought, language, etc.: Paradise Lost is sublime poetry.
2. impressing the mind with a sense of grandeur or power; inspiring awe, veneration, etc.: Switzerland has sublime scenery.
3. Archaic: raised high; high up.
–verb (used with object)
1. to make higher, nobler, or purer.
—Synonyms 1. exalted, noble. 2. magnificent, superb, august, grand, gorgeous, resplendent, imposing, majestic.
In his Tales of the Alhambra, my new friend Washington Irving wrote, "There is something...in the sternly simple features of the Spanish landscape that impresses the soul with a feeling of sublimity". In my opinion, that couldn't be more true than when beholding the landscape of Granada and the imposing walls of the Alhambra high up on the rocky hillside.
If the name Washington Irving doesn't ring a bell, perhaps you'll know him by the tales he penned that take place a little closer to home, such as Rip Van Winkle or The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I can hear the light bulbs coming on and the collective, "Ooooohhhh! THAT Washington Irving!" (I've been to Sleepy Hollow, by the way, and felt a little thrill in the ribcage when I saw the sign upon entering the decidedly awake and utterly charming little hamlet.)
Well, in addition to his success as a story teller, essayist, editor, soldier, and all-around busy guy, he was also a diplomat and traveled extensively throughout Spain as its U.S. minister in the early to mid 1800's. I picked up The Tales of the Alhambra while visiting the Alhambra and have been reading and re-reading it ever since. It was in the room in Alhambra's Nasrid Palace with a plaque dedicated to Irving and his prodigeous scribbling that my classmate Hudson encountered an impressive fan following of Spanish pre-teens.
But I've gone too far ahead already - I'm supposed to be telling you about our visit to the Alhambra: The city of Granada, the Alhambra, the Generalife - all were by far my favorite part of visiting Spain. The history is awe-inspiring, to say nothing of the architecture and craftsmanship that went into building the fortress, palaces, and their gardens. I wish I had Irving's way with words and could describe it the way he did, but I don't so I'll let him introduce the place to you:
"The peculiar charm of this old dreamy palace is its power of calling up vague reveries and picturings of the past, and thus clothing naked realities with the illusions of the memory and the imagination....Here the hand of time has fallen the lightest and the traces of Moorish elegance and splendour exist in almost their original brilliancy. From The Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving, published 1832.
Earthquakes have shaken the foundations of this pile and rent its rudest towers, yet see, not one of those slender columns has been displaced, not an arch of that light and fragile colonnade has given way, and all the fairy fretwork of those domes, apparently as unsubstantial as the crystal fabrics of a morning's frost, yet exist after the lapse of centuries, almost as fresh as if from the hand of the Moslem artist.
"To the traveller imbued with a feeling for the historical and poetical, the Alhambra of Granada is as much as object of veneration as is the Kaaba or sacred house of Mecca to all true Moslem pilgrims. How many legends and traditions, true and fabulous, of love and war and chivalry are associated with this romantic pile! The following papers are the result of my reveries and researches during that delicious thraldrom. If they have the power of imparting any of the witching charms of the place to the imagination of the reader, he will not repine at lingering with me for a season in the legendary halls of the Alhambra."
From The Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving, published 1832.