A couple of weeks ago, when introducing you to some of the most photogenic spots in “Sunny Seville,” I mentioned another beautiful place: the Alhambra in Granada. Justin and I were able to visit the Alhambra during our Spain explorations this past winter, and let me tell you…we were completely blown away.
The holistic loveliness of the Alhambra complex (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is, perhaps, a little surprising given that it’s actually a total mash-up of styles and eras. Originally, it was a Roman fortress–built around 889 AD. Then, mid-13th century, the buildings were revamped and new additions (specifically, the palace and walls) were made by Moorish “emir” Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar. Finally, following Spanish conquest of Granada in 1492, the Alhambra became the site of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella’s Royal Court, and the complex was remodeled yet again to fit with European, Renaissance aesthetic ideals.
I could ramble on more about the history of the Alhambra and the various facts of its construction, but, honestly, even for an information-whore like myself, the magic of the Alhambra doesn’t lie in the facts. When you visit the Alhambra, it’s all about the feelings of wonder the experience evokes. From the views of Granada you can catch from the watchtower of the Alcazaba, to the intricate decoration of the Nasrid Palaces, seeing is believing. Which is why we’re going to take you on a visual journey through the Alhambra. Welcome!
It’s easy to understand how the Alhambra got its name the minute you lay eyes on it: in Arabic, “qa’lat al-Hamra'” means Red Castle.
The Alhambra complex is located above and to the west of the city of Granada. That means, when you visit the Alhambra, you get some absolutely breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.
From the Alcazaba you can see nearly 360 degrees–especially from the look-out points near the Vermilion Towers…
…and, of course, from the highest point in the Alcazaba, the Watch Tower.
From the Watch Tower, you not only have great city views–including a nice overhead of the iconic Granada Cathedral…
…you can also see the entirety of the Arms Square, which served as the original entrance to the Alcazaba, and contained a number of buildings (of which only the foundations remain) where the inhabitants of the fortress lived and worked.
Of course, the real star attractions when you visit the Alhambra are the Nasrid Palaces. There are three sections within the Nasrid Palaces: the Mexuar, used for justice administration and State affairs; the Comares Palace where the king lived; and the Palace of the Lions where the Royal Harem was located.
The Mexuar largely reflects the Palace’s Christian period–while the decoration appears Arabic, it’s actually just a western interpretation of Islamic art–a stylistic choice popular during the Reconquista. Moving into the Comares Palace area, things really get exciting…
After passing through a number of gorgeous rooms and corridors, you’ll emerge into the Court of the Myrtles.
Then, you’ll come to the richest gem in the Palaces’ crown: the Palace of the Lions. The palace consists of a main patio, encircled by several galleries, much like a Christian cloister.
Honestly, the photos don’t even begin to give the rich details of this area justice…
Beyond the Palace of the Lions, you’ll find yourself in later royal apartments, constructed for Charles V.
These apartments overlook Daraxa’s Garden, also known as the Garden of the Orange Trees.
Also built around the same time: the Patio of the Wrought Iron Grille.
There’s so much more to see when you visit the Alhambra than we could show you in just this one post, but we hope you enjoyed the tour, and, maybe, added a new spot to your travel bucket list!
All photographs were taken with the Sony A6000—a lightweight, mirrorless camera that captures great images even in low-light conditions. You can find out more about the gear we carry when we travel HERE.
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Visitor Information for the Alhambra:
- The Alhambra restricts the number of visitors per day, so advance booking for when you visit the Alhambra is recommended. You can purchase tickets online HERE.
- There are different types of tickets available, each of which offers a different kind of access–read all descriptions carefully to ensure you’re getting what you want! That said, for most people, the Daytime Ticket (which includes access to the Nasrid Palaces) will suffice.
- You will only be able to access the Nasrid Palaces at time indicated on your ticket (you have 30 minutes from the designated time to enter the Palaces; there can be lines, so arriving on time is best). If you do not enter at the designated time, you will not be able to visit this space.
- Daytime ticket info. is as follows:
- Adults: 14.00 €
- Children under 12: Free entry
- Children between 12 and 15 years old: 8.00 €
- Senior citizens (aged 65 years and over) and pensioners from the European Union: 9.00 €. A justification of retirement must be presented
- Euro < 26 and Euro < 30 Card holders: 9.00 €
- People with disabilities (with more than 33% disability and upon presentation of valid document): 8.00 €
—Getting There: on-site paid parking is available; the Alhambra can be accessed via bus and by foot. Read more about getting to the Alhambra HERE.
Need a place to stay in Granada?
—Budget: Just a 5-minute walk from Puerta Real, San José Guest House offers clean, bright rooms (with very comfy beds) all with private bath. Staff are very friendly and willing to help. (Note: there is a fee for check-in after 9pm.) Check your travel dates now and save up to 50%!
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—Luxe: Set in the middle of Granada’s historic area, the NH Victoria Hotel offers top-notch service and comfort at very reasonable prices. Check your travel dates today and save up to 60%!
–Airbnb: Looking to get a more local experience? Use this link to get a $35 discount off of your first Airbnb booking!