A reader writes:
First impression of the picture gives me a distinct eastern Mediterranean vibe. The architecture and climate could fit anywhere between Egypt and Turkey. While it wouldn’t shock me if this was on the Iberian Peninsula somewhere, I’m staking my claim in Jordan. It seems a bit too sparsely vegetated for Turkey, too hilly for the Nile delta, and with conflict in Syria, I’m eliminating that country. It’s a crap shoot between Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon but I had to pick one, so here’s hoping.
I’ve never entered the contest before, but the decoration around the window is the first thing that struck me as so familiar. Though the coloring in the photo isn’t very sharp, the view and the pines also drew me to Villa d’Este, Tivoli, Lazio, Italy. Looking through photos I have from my last visit, so many of the buildings are similar. Though I’m not sure what exact window in the Villa it was taken, I believe it is facing north from a 3rd floor window toward the Reserva Naturale Monte Catillo. The only other problem is most windows in the villa are rectangular with only a few being arched.
But there are so many sights like this in central Italy, it could be just about anywhere. Oh, well! It did take me back to my last trip to Italy.
Is it the view from the bell tower of St. Francis of Assisi church, Umbria, Italy (and a hat-tip to the pope for his comments about gays last week?)
It looks like the hilly areas around Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives.
Tehran? Parts of it are extremely affluent and some of the architecture there is Beverly Hills-esque. That’s my guess.
Another gets in the right territory:
My guess is that this picture was taken in the southern part of Spain, Andalusia region. Specifically I think it is Cordoba. My wife and I went to Malaga for our honeymoon, so when I saw the picture, the South of Spain immediately came to my mind. It looks like the great mosque-cathedral or maybe Alcazar Palace.
Another nails the exact location:
Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey. Right away, I narrowed this week’s contest to those four countries. Next, I eliminated Spain, since last week’s contest was in Spain, and what are the odds? Then I crossed off Italy, since those windows seemed to be plainer. Nothing really doing in Greece, so I turned to Turkey, fairly confident. The detail on the arches themselves, the Byzantine-looking designs around windows, Turkey seemed like a strong possibility.
But then I found the attached picture, and PLOT TWIST, it’s actually in Spain.
Specifically, it’s from the Alhambra, in Granada, Andalusia, Spain, facing north. Thanks for an easier one after last week. Although I did learn a lot last week, and I was the fifth or sixth best guess, which I’ll take given how hard it was.
Another provides some history:
The Alhambra was originally constructed as a fortress in 889 and later converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada. As Ferdinand and Isabella completed the reconquest of Spain, the last Muslim ruler Muhammad XII of Granada surrendered the Emirate of Granada in 1492, a singular year for the Spanish Empire for several reasons besides this final capitulation of Islam in the West. Legend has it that as the Moorish royal party moved south toward exile, they reached a rocky prominence which gave a last view of the city. Muhammad XII, surveying for the last time the Alhambra and the green valley that spread below, burst into tears. Whereupon his mother, clearly a an unsentimental person, reproached him bitterly mocking, “Thou dost weep like a woman for what thou couldst not defend as a man.”
The window is one of four twin arches in the Oratory at the Alhambra, which means Red Castle in Arabic:
I’m still frustrated I didn’t get my submission in on time last week, so I looked at this week and thought: I’m not sure that I’m ready to face it. I gave it to my wife to look at, and in less than ten minutes she said: “It’s Alhambra, Spain!” If I win with this submission – when it wasn’t even me that found it – and when I might have won last week’s really hard one if I’d just got the time change right, then well, I guess c’est la vie.
I have a feeling that this week’s contest might not be too difficult. It took about 10 seconds to find a higher quality picture similar to the contest photo to confirm that we are in Granada Spain north of the Alhambra. Then it took some time searching images from inside the Queen’s Dressing Room, the Comares Tower, the Ladies Tower, and the Tower of Mihrab before finally stumbling on the Oratory:
You posted my aerial view with the red lines in the answer to #156. It was one of the first contests I entered and the first time you posted anything I submitted. I assume that I will lose this one because either I was yet again one or two windows off or someone else will win the tiebreak. As always, thanks for the contest.
The palace is of course beautiful, and its reputation is well-deserved. One interesting fact is that there are some 10,000 calligraphic inscriptions in the palace, which are apparently not at all easy to read even for Arabic speakers. Amazingly, there was no effort to systematically catalog and transcribe them until recently.
Rick Steves provides an up-close tour:
You must be feeling charitable this week. I’ve seen so many of these views where I had not even the slightest clue. This one is obvious enough that I imagine you’ll receive a flood of emails. The Alhambra Palace – one of the most magnificent and beautiful creations of humanity, is the site of the photo. If it’s not, then you’ve really out-tricked me.
I had the opportunity to visit the Alhambra about 13 years ago, and found myself enthralled. I could’ve spent days wandering the place, examining the details and taking in the views. It’s a remarkable achievement from when the Moors ruled Spain.
We did indeed receive a flood of emails this week. Of the more than 150 readers who wrote in, about 95% answered Alhambra. About a dozen of those readers’ email addresses are marked with a “Correct Guesser” filter, which means they have gotten a difficult view (defined as one guessed by 10 or fewer readers) without having won the tie-breaker. Of those dozen, one clearly stands out for the number of contests participated in (31), so that reader breaks the tie this week. (His entry is the first visual one seen above, the one with a “PLOT TWIST”.) One more reader writes:
Didn’t you already do Granada within the last year? Regardless, this week took me all of 12 seconds, and I’ve never even been to Granada, so I’m going to assume that I have a flat zero chance at winning (especially since this is a famous window), but I’ll go ahead and submit a guess to hopefully better my chances of winning someday. Not to complain, but all of the recent contests have regularly been either some of the easiest or most difficult ever, any chance you could try to hit that middle ground a little more often?
Finding a good contest candidate – an interesting location that is not too easy, not too hard – is incredibly difficult, especially lately. Often it takes close to an hour combing through unused VFYWs just to find a decent candidate. So bear with us a little; the contest is only as good as its options.