Tales of the Alhambra – Washington Irving

Version 1.0.0

This was the first audio book I’ve listen to since a Batman book/cassette tape I had when I was six years old. I still have it. I’ve always preferred to read instead of listen but this was only available on Libby in audio form. I learned that I enjoyed listening to books when making the long commute to San Jose and when sitting outside on my porch swing.

As it was in audio I wasn’t able to make my usual highlights and so the only thing I really remember well are the stories and legends told about the Alhambra and not much of the authors own stay there.

I’m fascinated with the history of Spain. There were the native Iberians who fought the Romans and used a sword called a “Fulcata.” I’ve bought three replicas of swords so far from Toledo Spain but the wife wouldn’t let me get a fourth. One day I’ll get that Fulcata if it is still available. Unfortunately the blacksmiths are dying out in Toledo due to cheap, shiny, Chinese imports which tourists prefer to buy.

After the Romans came the Visigoths, followed by the Moorish conquest which, if it had not been stopped in Asturias may have gone a good way into France. As for this book, the author stayed at the Alhambra in 1832. I learned that after the Catholic Reconquista, the monarchs had used it for a while but it eventually fell into disrepair and was a place filled with vagabonds and gypsies. It is fortunate the Spanish realized the treasure it is although from all those years of neglect is only a shadow of its former glory.

One of the main themes that was reinforced to me was the legends of buried Moorish gold. Given that the Moors held the country for almost six hundred years there still must be many hidden treasures throughout the country waiting to be discovered. One aspect that fascinates me is the Spanish currently rediscovering not gold but another long forgotten treasure. Like the Romans, the Moors were masters of moving water and with climate change Spain is becoming even more parched than before. Therefore, archeologists are unearthing long forgotten canals to help alleviate the problem.


The author related many of the stories and legends associated with the Alhambra which involves the usual Spanish themes: princes and princesses, love, converting faiths, hidden Moorish treasure, vengeful ghosts, enchantments and so on. Being such an ancient country and with invasions/occupations for generations creates fertile ground for these types of legends. I wish I had read this book before my visit to the Alhambra in 1998. It was just a tourist attraction to me then but now would be filled with wonder as I look for those old ghosts as I try to ignore all the tourists taking selfies.

Spain has always fascinated me and books like these deepen my fascination.

Categorized as Books

By Mateo de Colón

Global Citizen! こんにちは!僕の名前はマットです. Es decir soy Mateo. Aussi, je m'appelle Mathieu. Likes: Languages, Cultures, Computers, History, being Alive! \(^.^)/