{Granada sunset}

Photo: David Chalmers*

¡Con qué trabajo tan grande

deja la luz a Granada!

Se enreda entre los cipreses

o se esconde bajo el agua.

¡Y esta noche que no llega!

["What hard work it takes for the light to leave Granada! It gets tangled up in the cypresses or hides beneath the water. Will  the night never come?!"]

- Mariana Pineda, Estampa primera, Escena V -

So sounds the complaint of Federico Garcia Lorca's and Granada's romantic heroine, Mariana Pineda, impatiently awaiting nightfall and with it the arrival of her lover.

It was probably written about 1923, when Lorca was 25.

Lorca returns to the theme of the Granada sunset in the very last scene of the play. The stage instructions read:
During the scene the light takes on the intense and strange quality of a Granada sunset. A pink and green glow enters through the arches of the convent and the cypresses change subtly until they have the appearance of precious stones. A soft orange light is reflected from the ceiling, getting stronger and stronger as the scene progresses.

And at the very end, when Mariana has been led offstage to meet her death:
A wonderful and hallucinatory light invades the stage.


Photo details: David Chalmers - Sunset over Granada. From a Templeton Foundation workshop on emergence, held in Granada in August 2002.

David Chalmers, Philosophy Program, RSSS, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia. E-mail:



The Alhambra Palace, Granada, lit up by the setting sun.

Photo: Michelle Chaplow

"This shot can only be taken at a certain time of year, between 6 & 8pm in the evening. I needed a sunset, snow on the mountains, a clear sky and golden light on the northern façade of this magnificent Moorish monument. This image was the result of 3 nights work, the first night the clouds obscured the view of the Sierra Nevada, the second night no sunset and finally, on the third night, success! The image was commissioned for an advertising campaign by the Spanish Tourist Board. It has been published worldwide including an ad for Spain in National Geographic Magazine."  Avenida del Carmen 9, Ed. Puertosol 1a Planta, Oficina 30, Estepona 29680 Malaga, Spain


Former US President Bill Clinton, on a visit to Granada in July 1997, described the sunsets he viewed as "the best in the world" and Prince Abdullazih, son of the King of Saudi Arabia, camped one weekend in August that same year near the Alhambra to contemplate the sunsets over the Arabian Palace. If you've seen Marcos Zurinaga's film Death in Granada (aka The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca), released September 1997, about the murder of Granada's most famous poet, maybe the best thing you remember about that film is the shot of a silhouetted skyline against a fiery red evening sky.

About 1917, in Impresiones y Paisajes, Lorca wrote the following on the subject of the Granada sunset:

When the sun disappears behind the mountains of rosy mist and there is the vast harmony of a religious gathering in the air, Granada is bathed in gold and tulles of lilac and pink.

The Vega (river plain), with the wheat now wilted, slumbers in a yellowish and silvery lethargy, while in the distant skies there are bonfires of passionate purple and soft ochre. On the plain, there are trails of irresolute fog, like air saturated with smoke or like enormous prongs of massive silver.  In the country the houses are enveloped in heat and dust from the straw, while the city is drowning among strains of luxurious greenery and dirty smoke.

The Sierra Nevada is violet and deep blue in the foothills and pinky-white at its summits. There are still patches of snow resolutely resisting the fiery sun.

The rivers are almost dry and the water in the irrigation canals flows so slowly, as if it were weighed down by a huge, romantic soul, wearied by the painful pleasure of the evening. High in the sky, a timid blue sky, we see the hieratic kiss of the moon.

Get the picture? Come and see for yourself!


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March 2007