Ibn Battutah's journey in the West
In his fantastic travels, Ibn Battutah explores the East and the South, exploring Egypt, Asia Minor, Arabia, Persia, India, China, the Indies, and West Africa. He seemed to delay and put off any exploration of the Western world. In H.T. Norris’ essay, “Ibn Battuta’s Andalusian Journey
,” he argues that “it is strange that Shaykh Abu 'Abdallah Muḥammad Ibn Baṭṭuṭah, one of the greatest of Muslim travelers, should have delayed his major visit to Spain until the latter part of his career,” especially having been born “within sight of the Spanish coast.”
Ibn Battutah lived during the time of the Reconquista
, when the Catholic kings were in process of conquering Spain from the Moors. This process wasn’t complete until the fall of Granada
in 1492, leaving Ibn Battutah much time to explore the region, having lived from 1304-1368/1369. There were at least a full 100 years after his death before Muslims would not be allowed to explore Southern Spain, or Andalusia. He entered each city with an open mind, noting the customs and perks of each locale. He wasn’t quite a tourist, but much more a traveler or explorer. Ibn Battutah notes the in-between travel time, unlike other travel writers of his time and genre.
Noting that Ibn Battutah was exploring Spain, I grew excited for his description of Granada, having visited myself. The Alhambra Palace
was probably the most memorable site of my travels in Southern Spain. The palace is something I suppose visitors of today are unable to miss. Its breathtaking architecture, tranquil flowing canals, and beautiful flora have gone unmatched, unlike anything I have ever seen. It is possibly one of my favorite places in the world, with its rich cultural roots.
I found myself disappointed to read nothing about the palace, the city’s landmark site. H.T. Norris makes an argument for the omitting of the impressive place: “The Sultan of Granada, Abu'l Ḥajjaj Yusuf, was ill at the time and Ibn Baṭṭuṭah did not meet him. However, the Sultan's mother heard that the famous traveller was in the city and sent him some gold dinars to pay for his expenses. Perhaps the Sultan's illness prevented the visitor from seeing the great Red Palace (the Alhambra), the wonder of Moorish Spain. He makes no mention of it, and we can only assume that he never entered the splendid Gate of Justice, or climbed its "Tower of Homage" or meditated in the Court of the Lions or wandered in the enchanted gardens of the Jannat al-'Arif (the Generalife).” From personal experience, it is almost shocking that Ibn Battutah could not have even noted the palace from a distance. The video provides a little tour and lots of information about the palace, pointing out the magic of the place. Perhaps it was not a necessary addition to Ibn Battutah's works.