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66 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A marvelous combination of travelogue, legends and Spain
"Tales of the Alhambra" was penned by American author Washington Irving ("Rip Van Winkle," "Sleepy Hollow") during a stay at the legendary Alhambra in Granada, Spain. I bought this book after my visit to the Alhambra, and found it to be a fantastic companion to what I had seen and experienced.
The Alhambra (and Generalife) is a...
Published on October 17, 2002 by Bundtlust

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This nearly 200 year old work is a treasure trove for those who share the Alhambra
On returning from Spain this spring with fresh memories of The Alhambra of Grenada, I downloaded Washington Irving's work. I wish I had read it before visiting The Alhambra. In these not so dusty pages one views the political and social background of The Alhambra, and hence, all of Spain. The halls, terraces, fountains are richly discussed in this work, mixed in with the...
Published on November 3, 2010 by Donald Wickham


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66 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A marvelous combination of travelogue, legends and Spain, October 17, 2002
This review is from: Tales of the Alhambra (Paperback)
"Tales of the Alhambra" was penned by American author Washington Irving ("Rip Van Winkle," "Sleepy Hollow") during a stay at the legendary Alhambra in Granada, Spain. I bought this book after my visit to the Alhambra, and found it to be a fantastic companion to what I had seen and experienced.
The Alhambra (and Generalife) is a combination fort/palace/gardens dating from the 13th century, filled with fantastic Arabic architecture (ornate plasterwork, ceramic tiles, sculpted marble fountains and archways), and lots of room for imagining the days of its former greatness, which Irving brings to life most memorably. The book is illustrated with charming and detailed watercolour engravings dating from the same period when the book was written.
Irving seamlessly winds legend, history, and a Spanish travelogue of sorts together, and even though the book is over 170 years old, it seems as if it was written yesterday. There are tales of princes, genies, lost and found loves, enchanted treasures, battles, hellish headless horses (does the inspiration seem familiar?), and commentary on the Spanish landscape and nature of the Spaniards that he lives with. Full of bewitching music, the smell of roses and exotic perfumes, firey sunsets, and the ghosts of the past, the book is a sensory treat as well. If you plan on visiting the Alhambra, read this first--it will definitely enhance your experience. If you've already visited, this makes a priceless souvenir, bringing to life once more the stately halls and fragrant gardens.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brings the Alhambra and all it's glorious history to life, July 10, 2003
By 
Fozia Zaidi (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Tales of the Alhambra (Hardcover)
I visited Spain in Nov 2002 and was absolutely enchanted by the Nasrid Alhambra palace in Granada. Built in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, it casts a watchful eye over the inhabitants of the city below.
From the exterior, palace is surrounded by an imposing fort structure built of reddish brown stone - clearly meant to give the vision of martial strength to the outsiders. At night from the Albaycin (Old Arab Quarter), the palace is hauntingly beautiful-floodlights on the fort giving it a ghostly appearance. Upon entering the deceptively unassuming palace, a world of breathtakingly beautiful art and architecture slowly overwhelms you.
I simply couldn't get enough of this palace and often found myself trying to absorb as much of it's ambiance as possible. I was introduced to Washington Irving's work when I had bought an audioguide at the entrance of the palace. This guide was essentially oral excerpts from his book detailing the history and legends of each room as I walked through them.
Upon completing the tour, I then was compelled to buy the book. Reading it, I could see the Alhambra in front of my eyes again. In addition to that, I could imagine its former royal inhabitants as the legends of chivalry, romance and ghosts were told.
Washington Irving had the opportunity to live for several months in the Alhambra palace. Back then it was a forgotten Moorish fort in a terrible state of disrepair. His style is very soft and dreamlike, thus one is drawn into his writing as he discovers the legends from the 'guardians' who have taken residence in the palace.
This book was truly a delight to read, I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to learn about the Alhambra or as a memoir of one's own visit to the palace.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Long on myth. Short on facts., November 3, 2006
By 
Yurij (Plainfield, New Jersey United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tales of the Alhambra (Audio CD)
Washington Irving is credited with bringing the glorious history and unbelievable beauty of the Alhambra, in the city of Granada, (the last stronghold of the Moors in the South of Spain) to Western conciousness.

After spending a day at the Alhambra last Summer, and passing by the closed apartments that he occupied, I decided to listen to his book while driving one hour each way to work. (any short trips won't work because all of the 'tales' are lengthy)

My title says it all. If you are a student of dry history this book is not for you. Only about 20-30 minutes will satisfy your curiosity for the facts. If you enjoy legend and lore this book is it. The bulk of the book tells numerous stories of princes and princeses, kings and soldiers, common laborers such as mule drivers and water carriers, loves found and loves lost, and especially the perrenial human lust for long lost and buried treasure, etc., all told with a wonderous style and feel for southern Spain of the 13-th to 15-th centuries.

The factual account of how Columbus finally came to agreement with Isabella and Ferdinand to sign the contract for the three ships, almost by chance in 1492, while the two sovereigns were outside Granada laying the final siege of the Alhambra fortress, is mind blowing. History came 'that close' to having Columbus sail three French ships instead of the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria.

If you want just the facts, look elsewhere. But if you are planning a trip to Granada and the Alhambra, definitely pick up this book, along with a second, more fact based, and give a read or listen. I wish I had done that before my trip. It would have given much more life and enjoyment to the place as I walked through the various rooms and towers and gardens that Irving so lovingly describes.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This nearly 200 year old work is a treasure trove for those who share the Alhambra, November 3, 2010
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On returning from Spain this spring with fresh memories of The Alhambra of Grenada, I downloaded Washington Irving's work. I wish I had read it before visiting The Alhambra. In these not so dusty pages one views the political and social background of The Alhambra, and hence, all of Spain. The halls, terraces, fountains are richly discussed in this work, mixed in with the Ghostly visions and stories there associated that Irving relates. The stories alone are as fresh as modern television, rich fodder for the imagination.

He also describes Spain as it was in the early 19th century, allowing the traveler to compares his own sojourn there.

Well worth the reading.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Orientalist Tale, September 2, 2009
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This review is from: Tales of the Alhambra (Paperback)
Washington Irving's "Tales of the Alhambra" is really two books in one. The first section chronicles Irvings 1829 visit to the crumbling Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. Irving was permitted to reside within the palace grounds. His beautifully detailled descriptions of the deteriorating palace and its inhabitants fit well within the romantic vision that was beginning to sweep Europe. One can only imagine Irving's influence in shaping the Orientalist craze that played out in the Nineteenth Century European art.

As a young man, Washington Iriving was inspired to learn Spanish after having read Miguel Cervantes' "Don Quixote". In that work, Cervantes interjected long romantic tales into the middle of the narrative. The second half of "Tales of the Alhambra" is a collection of romantic tales inspired by the Alhambra's Moorish and Spanish past. They are charming tales clearly inspired by Miguel Cervantes.

"Tales of the Alhambra" was published in 1832 and has been in continous print. This book survives because of Irving's ability to recreate a beautiful and romantic past for the ever elegant Alhambra Palace.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Part Spanish Arabian Nights, Part Travel Writing, All Wonderful, June 2, 2007
This review is from: Tales of the Alhambra (Paperback)
Many Americans know Washington Irving as the author of "the Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle". Few realize that he was also a world traveler, scholarly fluent in Arabic and Spanish and something of an Hispanophile, to the say least.

Irving's book is largely responsible for the widespread romantic image of Spain. It is a collection of observation, history, fairy tale, written in Irving's unique blend of romanticism and healthy skepticism. It is roughly framed by his journey to the Alhambra and his departure from it, an in between we are given a tour of the grounds and hear a few tales (including tales of Moorish ghosts on headless horses) which are roughly intertwined as in the Arabian Nights. Indeed, this little book is the 'Arabian Nights' of the west.

Before visit the Alhambra read this book. If you are not planning on going, read it and you'll probably change your mind.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Written by an American Classical Author!, January 3, 2005
This review is from: Tales of the Alhambra (Paperback)
This wonderful book written by a well-loved American author details his travels in Spain, and more specifically in the Castle Alhambra. These tales are delightful, and seemlessly weave from fact to fiction to history to folklore. It is a true travel log, done oh so many years ago, and done with Irving's whimcical and enchanting style. The sketches give a good description of Spain and travel in the early 1800's. Older children and adolescents would probably enjoy these sketches.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tales of the Alhambra, December 15, 2009
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This review is from: Tales of the Alhambra (Hardcover)
This book is out of print, our local stores couldn't get it for us. An antique dealer on Amazon shipped it to us and within the week we where lost in Granada, Spain, with Washington Irving. We will visit the Alhambra shortly and will think fondly of this book, which gave us quite an insight to its history. There is a good progression to the short stories that make up the book, all of which revolve around the Alhambra. I truly enjoyed reading this one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Washington Irving's fascinating experience in Spain!, August 21, 2011
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Most likely you know the famous Washington Irving books. But this is left out of most school's must read lists. The Alhambra is a great gift of the Moors to Spain - they ruled there for almost 900 years. Irving, along with Russia's ambassador visited and stayed on. So the tales come from being there. Unusual for a gringo.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captures the era, June 13, 2011
By 
Journeyman (Cincinnati OH USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tales of the Alhambra (Paperback)
We returned from a visit to the Alhambra in March. The audioguide there consists largely of excerpts from Irving's book, read in a soft soothing voice. This book - and its illustrations - perfectly capture the Alhambra in Irving's time: both its tranquility in this space elevated above the city and its romantic and glorious past. The book reflects the aura of the place and Irving's captivation with its history; it is just right in size, font, and white space, a total publishing success.
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Tales of the Alhambra
Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving (Hardcover - 1987)
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