Royal Burials, Royal Ironies

Even if you're not staying at the Parador de Granada, try to make a detour into its gardens. During its role in the 16th century as a Franciscan monastery, it adapted an existing Muslim structure as the temporary burial chamber of the ardently Catholic Queen Isabella (1451-1504), whose body rested here for 17 years. A few years later when Ferdinand (1452-1516) died, he, too, was interred here temporarily. Eventually, both Isabella and Ferdinand were disinterred and moved to more luxurious digs in the Capilla Real, now an annex of Granada's enormous cathedral. The Capilla Real was originally envisioned as a royal mausoleum for the descendants of the Catholic kings, but it had not been completed at the time of Ferdinand and Isabella's deaths.

Today in the parador's gardens, birds twitter and flowers bloom. A simple plaque denotes the former burial site of the Catholic monarchs. Ironically, the surrounding motifs were developed by their hated enemies, the Muslims, and some of the lavish calligraphy that sheathes the walls of the burial chamber refers to Allah. One wonders if Isabella -- who generally tended to shun excess luxury of any type -- ever realized this. If she had, would her spirit have rested peacefully?

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