The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #156

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A reader writes:

This is hard, hard, hard. No street indications at all, just some Spanish-style roofs and a mountain top of snow. I immediately thought of South America (it’s winter down there) and for some reason, I came to Santiago, Chile. I could be wrong and this is from some northern campus of the California college system, but I don’t think so. We haven’t had any appreciable amount of rain in sometime, so there’s no large amount of snow on the mountains.

Where in Santiago? I have absolutely no idea. I’m sure I’ll lose to someone who knows Chile like I know parts of New Jersey and will be able to pinpoint that tower and the angle of mountain with ease. Next time, pick something that gives the rest of us a chance, huh?


Unlike last week’s contest, there’s nothing for me to immediately grasp onto beyond the mountain range and the architecture. I wish I knew what that orange thing in the next courtyard over (in the lower right corner of the frame) was because that’s probably a clue. It could South America or it could be Spain. I’m going to guess Santiago, Chile and be done with it.


I don’t have time to do in-depth searching, but a Google search for “red tiled roofs” and “mountain” let me to Cuzco, Peru, which looks awfully similar to the images in the photo.  A further search for hotels in the area found several with arched windows, but I’m going to guess: The Hotel Monasterio?


Well, it’s been 20 years since I’ve lived in the area, but I think this photo was taken from Laguna Niguel, California, looking away from the ocean toward the Saddleback Mountains.  I think that is Saddleback College off to the right, or I might have guessed Mission Viejo.


Not a lot of time to do any serious searching this weekend, so I’m gonna just throw out a guess: Flagstaff, Arizona, based on my very initial impression that the mountain range is the Sierra Nevadas. Of course, it could also be somewhere in the Pyrenees.


Looks like the Caucasus to me, and I think I can spot one of Georgia’s famous watchtowers through the left window. So I’m guessing it’s the town of Mestia in the Svaneti region of the Georgian Caucasus, where I once spent one of the best weeks of my life.

Another gets much closer:

I don’t have high hopes here, but feel I have at least identified the region.  This picture immediately screamed Italy.  (Of course last time the contest screamed Italy, it was France.)  So the roofs are distinctly reminiscent of wine country, the vegetation gives it away as not being California.  The mountains are either the Alps or Pyrenees, removing Tuscany.  Last time it was the Pyrenees, so I’m going Alps.  Piedmont gives roughly the same temperament to the mountains as shown here, and the village size is moderate, but not large enough for a city like Turin.  Susa was the lucky recipient of the mostly random guess based on region and city size.

Another gets the right country:

Okay, this seems like one of the easier ones.  The view screams Andalusia with the fortress-like church in the mid-view and snowcapped Sierra Nevada in the background. The tiled roofs are very Southern Spain, and the arched windows look like a modern nod to old Moorish architecture.  I’m going to say this is in Sevilla, a few miles from the city center.

Close. Another nails the right city:

The overall location is easy – this is Granada, Spain, looking SE to the Alhambra, with the Pico Veleta summit in the background (at over 11,000 ft, this is the second or third highest mountain in Spain if I remember my elementary school geography right).  The picture is taken from somewhere in the Albaicin or San Pedro areas, but I can’t figure out where.  Good to see my home region of Andalusia in the contest!

Another sends a visual of the city:


Another reader:

I mistakenly went off down the monasteries and abbeys route first, before realizing it may be a castle. (It reminded me of the tower in The Name of the Rose, with Sean Connery – an oldie but a good movie…). After much searching, I found Alhambra. Aha! Depressingly, this looks like it’s going to be another easy one. Tours of Alhambra abound. It may be Palacio de Santa Ines, which gets pretty good reviews on Trip Advisor, but I’m not sure I have the angle quite right. I’ll guess 3rd floor, counting European style, 4th floor American-counting. My luck with guessing floors was good last week (I think I was one of the half-dozen that correctly guessed the seventh floor of the Sheraton Jiangyin Hotel).  Hopefully that luck will hold.  Two weeks in a row. Woot!

Another illustrates the right hotel:


Another names the right hotel:

This is probably hopeless, because I expect about a zillion people to get this one.  The mountains in the background looked a lot like the Sierra Nevada of southern Spain (really living up to its name “snowy ridge” in the picture).  The towers not only looked reminiscent of the Alhambra, but are the Alhambra!  Just north of the Alhambra is a deep ravine, so the photo would have to be taken from the hill on the other side, in the neighborhood of El Albaicin.  The street level views on Google don’t provide any picturesque views of the palace and mountains, but I was able to determine the approximate location by noting that the main tower of the Nazarid Palace aligns with the highest mountain, and noting the approximate angle of the tower of the Generalife (on the right, partly behind the tree).  The triangulation lines are shown on the first attached picture (I didn’t get the location exactly right – the actual vantage point is shown in red):


The next two photos show the Google street level views of the third floor room with the two round windows from which the contest photo was taken, and the buildings across the street, which matches the roof line shown in the picture.  The location is Hotel Santa Isabel La Real, Calle de Santa Isabel La Real, 15, 18010 Granada, Spain.

From the hotel’s web site come the final two photos, one with the viewing location indicated, and the second one a view from an adjacent room showing the same view as the contest photo (I’m sure the hotel’s owners are going to wonder why their site traffic just went way up!)


Since I couldn’t win the contest with my last correct entry of Sacramento, I probably have no hope of winning one of Granada (interestingly, you can see the Sierra Nevada from both cities).  I have been to Granada twice, but not this hotel; once while I was in college, and a second time with my Spanish girlfriend.


So I’m sure you’ll get a billion correct answers from all your readers who have been to the Alhambra and I don’t have the patience to try to narrow it down to the exact room the pic was taken but I ‘m guessing in the Nicholas Square area. But I do have a story that might be of interest.

I arrived in Granada via train from Madrid on Sept 11, 2001. I went to an Internet cafe to check my email and saw an AOL headline about the attack on the World Trade Center but ignored it because I thought it was about the attack in 1993. So I went back to my hotel and then out for a drink at a local bar a couple hours later. There was a TV on and people were really intent on watching it. I glanced up and thought it was just some Spanish made-for-TV movie. It was only after a sip of beer that I realized what was happening. I met up in my hotel lobby with three groups of American travelers (complete strangers all) and the eight of us spent the evening together getting completely hammered. The next morning we planned an outing to see the Alhambra together and through booze-hazed eyes took in the magnificent monument to Moorish rule of southern Spain. The irony of being in the last bastion of Muslim rule and culture to fall in Europe was not lost on me on the occasion of the attacks on the WTC.

An aerial view of the hotel:

Overhead View from the Hotel Santa la Real

Another reader:

Once again, a great contest.  This one brought way too many memories of a trip I took to Granada seven years ago.  I was living in Sevilla at the time, I took a train trough Córdoba for the day, and an afternoon/overnight trip to Granada.  I made it just in time for the “candlelight tour” of the Alhambra and knew I had to come back for the day tour.  Thinking tourist season had passed, I made no accommodations so I had to sleep on different park benches until I took a taxi back to the Alhambra, where I slept on a bench until it opened again.  Sadly, I was alone and too shy to try so many things I was offered that night!

Of the dozen readers who correctly answered the Hotel Santa Isabel La Real, the following reader is the only one among them who has gotten a difficult view in the past without winning:

The picture is of the Alhambra in Granada with the Sierra Nevada in the background, taken from the Albaicin neighborhood.   It appears to be taken from the “torreon-mirador” tower-view room at the Hotel Santa Isabel la Real.  In the small picture of the room you can see the radiators below the windows, which can be seen faintly at the bottom of the VFYW photo. Also included is a street view of the same building seen in the foreground of the VFYW:


FWIW, I’ve submitted two previous correct entries without winning (Madrid, Tirana), and had my own VFYW picture posted once.

Some parting words from a reader:

The poet Francisco de Icaza gave the city its most famous saying, addressed to a woman about to pass a blind beggar without giving him anything: “Dale limosna, mujer, que no hay en la vida nada como la pena de ser ciego en Granada.” (Give him alms, woman, for there is nothing sadder in life than being blind in Granada.)