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Tales of the Alhambra: A Series of Tales and Sketches of the Moors and Spaniards

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  2,825 ratings  ·  338 reviews
Written in 1831, Washington Irving's dreamlike description of the Alhambra, the beautiful Moorish castle that defined the height of Moorish civilization, and of the surrounding territory of Granada remains one of the most romantic and entertaining travelogues ever written of this region in Spain. Enhanced here with exquisite Spanish guitar music, the narrative is a heady m ...more
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published November 1st 2004 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 1832)
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3.72  · 
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 ·  2,825 ratings  ·  338 reviews

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Henry Avila
May 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the spring of 1829, Washington Irving, America's first great writer, with an unnamed low - ranking Russian diplomat, a new friend, begins a leisurely expedition on horseback, from Seville to Granada, a young guide takes them through the Andalusian mountains. He boasts the Spaniard, nicknamed Sancho, an alias he enjoys ( this is the land of the renowned Don Quixote), his rifle raised high above his head, that no bandits will threaten them in their journey, but keeps it safely unloaded and behi ...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Mar 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
I understand now why this Alhambra book is sold at every news stand and souvenir boutique in the city of Granada, translated in every major tourist language. Washington Irving account of his visit to the palatial complex around 1830 is almost single handedly responsible for reviving interest in the almost ruined 'pile' of masonry, in its chivalrous histories and spooky legends. It is both a blessing and curse. A blessing because it allowed the palace to be restored and maintained. A curse
This was the book that cemented the Alhambra's romantic reputation in the minds of the Anglophone reading public. Based on Irving's three-month stay in the palace in 1829, Tales of the Alhambra is presented as a series of traveloguish essays and historical sketches, although they really have more to do with his grand ideas about lost Moorish glories than any realities of medieval Andalusia. Irving finds it impossible to

contemplate this once favourite abode of Oriental manners without feeling the
The edition I read, and have somewhere, tucked away and hidden from my own greedy fingers is a lovely little book illustrated with reproductions of contemporary lithographs.

In 1829 when Irving visited the Alhambra, it housed a small garrison of Spanish soldiers and wasn't a major tourist destination. Tourism in those days being an eccentric pass-time reserved for the wealthy, Irving stayed in the Alhambra itself, sleeping more or less where he wanted in different parts of the palace, observing f
Roy Lotz
To the traveler imbued with a feeling for the historical and poetical, so inseparably intertwined in the annals of romantic Spain, the Alhambra is as much an object of devotion as is the Caaba to all true Moslems.

The name “Washington Irving” has haunted me since I was a boy. I went to a school named after him. We visited his beautiful house, Sunnyside, on a field trip. My childhood home is just 500 feet from Irving’s grave in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery—quite a modest grave. My high school foot
Dana Al-Basha دانة الباشا
Adding this book to my reading list after seeing Fanny Thornton gushing about it in North & South to Margaret Hale!

Lisa N
May 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charming. This book is sort of a mix between travelogue and mythical tales. While in Grenada working on another book, Irving became enchanted with the Alhambra and penned this book in tribute: “Such is the Alhambra;--a Moslem pile in the midst of a Christian land; an Oriental palace amidst the Gothic edifices of the West; an elegant memento of a brave, intelligent, and graceful people, who conquered, ruled, flourished, and passed away.”

First published in 1832 then later revised in 1851, this boo
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
A wonderful glimpse into a time and place that most of us were never aware of. I would have loved to have read this book while traveling in Spain.
Sandra Danby
My copy of this classic was bought in the gift shop at the Alhambra in Granada and has a beautiful aubergine-coloured cover. It is a special edition to mark the 175th anniversary of the first publication of the American writer’s stories. Irving was a writer and diplomat, lodging in rooms at the beautiful Moorish palace. This book is a collection of stories and folklore that he collected during his time at the Alhambra, delightful tales of lost treasure, lovelorn princesses and brave soldiers. Ir ...more
Jean Gill
Mar 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm visiting the Alhambra for the first time in April and thought this would fire my imagination beforehand - it certainly did that. This mix of myth and anecdote from the author, who was actually staying in the run-down, mostly ruined Alhambra Palace of the early 19th Century, peoples the building with the squatters of his present-day and the Moorish ghosts of the past. What surprised me, given the period he was writing in, was Irving's open-minded respect for the Moslem civilisation of al-Anda ...more
Lisa - (Aussie Girl)
Bought at the Alhambra April 2019.

Classic book with beautiful 19th century illustrations of an inspiring historical monument. Part history/part tales still an easy reading and enjoyable book in 2019.
Evan Leach
img: Alhambra

Tales from the Alhambra is a charming, eclectic collection of writings by Washington Irving (of Sleepy Hollow fame). The Alhambra is a palace/fortress located in Granada, in the south of Spain. The Alhambra was developed into a magnificent fortress by its Moorish rulers in the 14th century, and is a major tourist attraction today. However, when Irving first travelled to Spain in the 1820’s, the Alhambra had been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair, and was filled with a colorful collection
Apr 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am actually reading "The Conquest of Granada, Agapida Edition." The copyright date is 1892 and there are two leather bound editions from the Knickerbocher Press, New York. Great followup to my trip to Granada a few weeks ago. I have finished Volume 1, Volume 2 covers the actual conquest of Granada. Finished Volume 2 on 12-11-12, loved it and now ready to move on to new cities and countries.
Apr 03, 2014 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
9 SEP 2015 - Laura provided a link at Project Gutenberg. Thank you, Laura.
The Tales of the Alhambra is something of a hodgepodge. It begins as a travelogue and ends as a collection of fables. In 1829, Irving travelled from Seville to Granada, apparently out of simple curiosity. Once he arrived, he fell under the enchanting influence of the Alhambra, and ended up residing there for several months. At the time, the Alhambra was in a sorry state. Several centuries of vandalism and neglect had reduced it to a ruin, and dozens of poor squatters were its only residents.

Lourens Ter veen
Hoogtepuntje: de inleiding op de Legend of the Two Statues doet denken aan Bolano en de grotscene komt zelfs terug in Savage Detectives (abyss):

"The sight of this talisman called up all the favorite superstitions about the Moors. The dance was neglected, and they sat in groups on the ground, telling old legendary tales handed down from their ancestors. Some of their stories turned upon the wonders of the very mountain upon which they were seated, which is a famous hobgoblin region. One ancient c
To the traveller imbued with a feeling for the historical and poetical, so inseparately intertwined in the annals of romantic Spain, the Alhambra is as much an object of devotion as is the Caaba to all true Moslems. How many legends and traditions, true and fabulous,—how many songs and ballads, Arabian and Spanish, of love and war and chivalry, are associated with this Oriental pile! It was the royal abode of the Moorish kings, where, surrounded with the splendours and refinements of Asiatic lux ...more
Nov 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book, along with another Washington Irving book, in preparation for a recent trip to Spain and Andalusia. I strongly recommend both Tales of the Alhambra and Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada. The latter can be found on Kindle as part of the "Works of Washington Irving" and you also get Tales of the Alhambra and most if not all of his other works. It was so cool to see several monuments to Irving as we toured the Alhambra. The Tales make a great pocket book for the plane or to rea ...more
Mar 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: us
Back in 1986 I travelled to Granada and was introduced to Irving by my traveling companion. It was twenty years after that I came to read this fairytale like stories. Most striking for me was that in the time of writing the old and new continent were still much more interwoven.
Irving was not only a writer but had a foreign affair mission. I can't help to think that his purpose was not only to write some tales. America at that time was ready to losen her relation with Europe. Likewise children fi
Jul 07, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I liked about this book was the "short-story" aspect of each chapter. Made it very easy to pick up again (expecially since I mostly read it during my lunch hour). Some of the stories were touching, some funny, and yes, some were on the boring side but not many. Overall not an engrossing read, probably due to the individual aspect of the chapters. As I reached the last quarter of the book I found myself more glancing through the chapters just to get the main idea of what it was about. I knew ...more
I enjoyed this account of Irving's time at the Alhambra, particularly since I read it on my trip to Spain and Morocco, which included a visit to the Alhambra itself. While it demonstrates the typical and regrettable attitudes Americans and northern Europeans had towards Spaniards (that they are all simple, lazy, and yet proud), it also reveals Irving's somewhat surprising (to me) admiration of Moorish culture. He seems more hostile to Catholicism than to Islam, and acknowledges throughout the sc ...more
Jan 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I went on a rare European vacation and picked this up in Granada, Spain. It is full of moorish tales that made the Alhambra come alive for me. We saw the plains where Ferdinand and Isabel defeated the last moorish enclave in the Iberian peninsula. Leave it to Washington Irving to raise the hairs on the back of your neck! The stories had all the more meaning when read from the ramparts of the castle of Granada. Imagine how the Moors felt to see their armies defeated! And, yet, it is at least as i ...more
Jan 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, fiction
I bought this book at the Alhambra on the advice of a friend, who said it was no longer in print in the United States (true until recently, it seems). His recommendation was some of the best advice I've received all year.

Irving's book is a wonderful combination of history, memoir and fairy tales, describing recognizable places in a fantastical yet believable way. While it may seem strange to say Arabian fairy tales are believable, but if you have ever visited the Alhambra, you will know that it
May 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The copy I am reading was purchased in Spain - but text is in English - not exactly perfect (typos can give a sense of humor where the author did not intend!) - Written over a century ago - it is still an easy read and rather Gothic in tone - "the mysterious East!" - entertaining short stories linked together yet can stand alone - perfect for that 15 minutes you might be stuck waiting somewhere.
Noran Miss Pumkin
Sep 16, 2011 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
another goodwill find. Mine is a hardback from 1984. It is illustrated with beautiful vintage color pictures. I have nbo idea what this book is about-but is was a must have the moment it was in my hands.
Nov 12, 2015 marked it as wish-list  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Wanda

Robert Irwin's Alhambra disses Washington Irving's romantic stories, which of course means I want to read them!

Free on gutenberg:
I found this paragraph on a google search "Alhambra Inquisition"

"The Alhambra and Granada would be just as far off the beaten tourist track as the rest of Spain, were it not for Washington Irving. Decades before the US civil war, the American diplomat found himself in Spain wandering around a forgotten gem and set about writing what became, in effect, its first promotional tourist brochure. Of course Mr Irving did much greater justice to the edifice than the Inquisition could hope to achieve"

Hawra Alnabi
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought this at one of the markets in Granada, Spain after visiting the Alhambra castle. Very beautiful book with magic, fairy tales, Jinns, etc. Definitely worth a read.
Nov 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Washington Irving (1783-1859) was arguably the first American writer to earn a substantial reputation in Europe, and he and James Fennimore Cooper presented views of the New World that appealed to Europeans. Irving himself spent much time in Europe, and he has been accused of writing for Europeans rather than for his countrymen, although this may be unfair. Most contemporary readers are familiar with his work primarily through two short stories, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle. ...more
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Washington Irving was an American author, essayist, biographer and historian of the early 19th century. He began his literary career at the age of nineteen by writing newspaper articles under the pseudonym Jonathan Oldstyle.

In 1809, he published The History of New York under his most well known public persona, Diedrich Knickerbocker.

Irving is best known for his short stories The Legend of Sleepy
“Perhaps there never was a monument more characteristic of an age and people than the Alhambra; a rugged fortress without, a voluptuous palace within; war frowning from its battlements; poetry breathing throughout the fairy architecture of its halls.” 7 likes
“No hay nadie en el mundo que atienda mejor que la pobretería en España el arte de no hacer nada y de vivir de nada; el clima del país contribuye con la mitad , el temperamento de las gentes aporta la otra mitad. Dad, en efecto, a un español la sombra en verano, el sol en invierno, un trozo de pan, ajos, aceite, garbanzos, una vieja capa y una guitarra, aunque no sea propia, los sones de la guitarra, ¡y que ruede el mundo como quiera! Hablarle de estreches! Para él no hay desgracia; la soportan sus hombros sin encogerse, lo mismo que cuando cuelga de ellos la raída capa. El español es siempre un hidalgo, aun en hambre y en harapos.” 3 likes
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