A visit to the Alhambra in Granada and experiencing the fortress, gardens and unique places is necessary for every visitor to discover the magic of luxury and history coming alive!
Sitting high atop a plateau, this stunning palace is known for treating the eyes with spectacular views of the city below.
And drenched with history, the palace is considered the best-preserved medieval Islamic monument worldwide.
Additionally, it’s a place that attracts millions of visitors annually.
So, step into a world of grandeur and history like no other and get all the vital information you need to tour and learn how to enjoy yourself at the palace!
1. Overview of the Alhambra in Granada
From its dimension, architecture and locale, the Alhambra Palace is an exceptional site.
The location was strategically chosen to ensure the palace was virtually visible from every part of Granada.
Thereby obviously showcasing the might of the Nasrid dynasty.
You get mixed emotions when you visit the palace.
That’s because of the thousand-year-old history influenced by Islamic, Christian, and gypsy cultures, making it a likeable spot for tourists and locals.
Interesting Fact: Did you know? The Alhambra meaning in Arabic means red. And the reason why it was given this name is due to the reddish appearance of the palace walls during sunset.
The palace stands on Hill Sabika on the left side of the River Darro’s banks.
This palace fortress became a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1984 and was home to Catherine of Aragon.
It happened in 1492 when her parents, King Fernando and Queen Isobel, drove the Moors out of Granada and Spain.
The American writer Washington Irving spread the palace’s popularity in his Tales of the Alhambra in 1832.
It was written after he spent time there, and this work was the key to opening tourists of all generations to peep into this fascinating palace of Granada.
2. Experiencing the Grandeur and Opulence of a Bygone Era: When was the Alhambra Built?
The history of this unique palace dates back to 900 AD when it was initially called the al-qala’at al-hamra, the Arabic word for Red Castle.
In 1237 with the rise of the Nasrid dynasty by Muhammad I, the palace became a fortress. And the Alcazaba was built.
Later during the Nasrid Kingdom Generalife gardens, the Comares Palace, the Nasrid Palaces, and the Lion Patio were added to Alcazaba.
Unfortunately, this place didn’t last long under the Nasrid Kingdom. In 1492, Catholic Kings invaded Granada and changed Alhambra into a Royal Palace.
Charles V, in 1527, destroyed some parts of the antique Moorish architecture of the Alhambra and incorporated Renaissance-style Palacio de Carlos V.
However, with the intrusion of Napoleon into Southern Spain, there was a point in history when the palace was almost given over to destruction by vandals and fires.
Luckily at the end of the 19th century, the Alhambra was restored and returned to its original splendour.
Today, many believe that the Alhambra in Granada is the distinguishing architectural magnificence man has ever made.
3. Alhambra Facts to Keep You Entertained
Now with history aside, let’s get to the inspiring part of the palace.
Here are some fun facts about this palace that occupies 35 acres of land to enthral you when you visit it in reality!
3.1 La Alhambra has Existed since the 13th Century
The beautiful Nasrid complex you see today was constructed in the 13th century.
Because it was believed that the site was less prone to attacks.
Interestingly, history states that the Moorish King of Granada was the first person to renovate the original palace in the 11th century.
This was later refurbished into a royal palace in the 14th century.
But after the overthrow of the Moors by the Spanish, the Christian rulers converted the mosque inside the palace into a church.
Later, European explorers rediscovered the Alhambra and began working on its restoration.
3.2 The Palace Has a Strategic Location
The location was meant to be a crucial factor for ancient rulers for their fortresses and palaces.
They were way off the ground and were mainly constructed on hills to ensure that they could keep a constant watch for impending enemies.
And it is estimated that the higher they are, the less likely they are to be invaded. That’s why the Alhambra was built on the al-Sabika hill.
This gave a 360-degree view of Granada City and the meadow. The Romans did the fortification around the palace in 899 AD.
And initially, the place was used as a military camp than a royal residence because of the 2430 feet long and 674 feet wide plateau.
3.3 Emir Muslims of Spain Built the Palace
Muslim emirs were the original residents and owners of the palace until they were overthrown by the residents today.
After Napoleon ruined the palace, British explorers rediscovered it later.
And it has become a renowned landmark with Islamic architecture displays, Christian constructions, and beautiful gardens dating from the 16th century.
You can even find the Arabian Baths and the Grand Mosque at the compound built by Muhammed I.
3.4 Numerous Pools and Fountains Inhabit the Palace
Fountains, reflecting pools, water tanks, and acequia are famous water features that make the Alhambra distinct.
Once you stroll through the compound, you can hear water trickling constantly.
One such famous place is the courtyard of the Lions.
This is a symbolic fountain representing the heavenly garden of Islam.
This fountain has exquisite architecture supported by twelve lions carved out of marble.
Another fascinating water feature is the Court of Myrtles, where you can find a reflecting pool. This pool played a significant role in acting as a symbol of power as well as cooling the palace.
The source of the fountains and pools was acequia real. This water network was founded on ancient Roman water channels redirected from the Darro River.
3.5 The Palace Decor is Made from Plaster and Not Carved Stones
Most of the decorations you might encounter are just carved plaster and not carved stones.
The style of the decorations has been hailing since the last great Andalusian art period in Granada.
Which in turn has influenced Byzantine contemporary architecture.
3.6 One Room in the Palace Has a Record of Holding a Murder of an Entire Family
Inside the mind-blowing chambers of the Hall of the Abencerrajes lies the memory of a murder.
This chamber’s name arises from the murder of the Abencerrajes family.
It is said that the Sultan knew the developed feelings of one of his relatives toward a female of the Royal family.
This matter was caught red-handed. And this forced him to retaliate against the heinous plans in these exquisite apartments.
3.7 The Tiles Are Just Amazing Here!
You will be astonished to find a two-dimensional repeated pattern on the tiles on the palace floor.
Studies have shown that Alhambra’s tiles incorporate most of the 17 wallpaper groups. But this number is still under skepticism.
3.8 The Palace Has Defensive Characteristics
Attesting to its historical importance, the Alhambra has numerous unique defensive structures.
This palace protects its occupants from unrest and strife from solid walls, fortified entrances, commanding towers, and an advantageous locale on a hilltop.
The installed watchtowers offer good space for communication and observation, and the strong walls defend against invaders.
The extensively crafted gates that control access to the palace add additional security. They are made of hefty doors with safe mechanisms.
Interested in having more fun with facts? Check here!
4. Where is the Alhambra Located?
Being the highly toured monument in Spain, the Alhambra in Granada stands majestically on the summit of the hill al-Sabica.
This hill is located on the left side of the Darro River’s banks.
This palace offers an entirely breathtaking view of the city of Granada below.
5. Practical Information and Tips to Reach Alhambra in Granada
You must book your Alhambra Tickets far in advance to get to the palace. This must be done using the Alhambra official website.
The Alhambra in Granada is not just a single palace. It comprises numerous palaces and places to see. So, to get the best out of the place, it’s best that you spend up to 4 hours.
Note, however, that once you are inside the palaces, you won’t be restricted in exploring each place.
The palace is open for tourists from 8:30 am, and some checkpoints might require your identification documents.
So, ensure to have them ready with the same details you have mentioned on your Alhambra ticket purchase.
Also, print your tickets as they might be scanned often. This is not needed if you have a modern phone. Otherwise, you can print it at the main gate.
Want to know the modes of transport to reach the palace? Follow this link…
Also, there are guided tours that take care of your booking and offer you detailed information on all aspects of Alhambra in Granada.
These are absolutely worth it. And again, book your tickets early as they go fast!
6. Which is the Best Time to See the Palaces?
Ensure to arrive in the earlier part of the day at the main gate to view the Generalife lawns.
The best time to view the Nasrid Palaces is around noon.
If you make a reservation much earlier, be there 10 minutes earlier to view the palace.
Here are some best hotel options around the palace you can check out!
7. Places to See in the Alhambra in Granada
- The Alcazaba
- Comares Palace – Palacio de los Comares
- The Lions Patio (Patio de Los Leones)
- Carlos V Palace
- Generalife Gardens
- La Casa Real – Nasrid Palaces
- Christian chambers in the Alhambra
- The Hall of the Ambassadorshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyGV71LZ2yA
- The Court of Myrtles
- The Alhambra Complex
8. Equipping Yourself to Take the Trip
Walking, walking and walking is your prime mode to tour inside the palace. So, here are a few things to keep in mind when you pack your bags;
- Wear comfy walking shoes as you might be strolling through the palace on foot for up to four hours.
- Keep your sunscreen lotions handy to keep your skin away from the sun. Southern Spain temperatures can sometimes be too hot to get your skin sunburnt!
- Basic drinks and food are available on-site, but food stops aren’t! So, have enough water and snacks.
- For individuals with mobility issues, arrangements are possible. Ensure to get in touch ahead with the Alhambra people.
- There are some places in the palace where selfie sticks, tripods and camera flashes are prohibited.
- If you are bringing infants, ensure to have a baby carrier, as strollers are allowed to enter the Alhambra grounds but not into Generalife and the Nasrid Palace.
9. How to Avoid These Alhambra Tour Mistakes?
Now that you have all the vitamin information for your wanderlust, it’s time to know you MUST AVOID these mistakes.
Trust me, follow this keenly, and you will NEVER REGRET your trip!
- Alhambra is not a small town to escape immediately. There are lots of places to explore and enjoy once you finish touring the palace. So, plan your trip for an entire day!
- Coming late for your Nasrid Palace trip. Please note that if you come late over the time mentioned in the ticket, you cannot retake the trip! So, tag along to the place 30 minutes before the said time.
- Don’t forget to bring your passport or the Id you used to purchase the tickets. This is one of the few authentic places in Spain that require your passport for entry. Spanish citizens can use their DNI, and foreigners can use TIE.
- Don’t throw away your tickets once you’re inside the palace. There are various points where they often scan the QR. If you have it on your phone, this won’t be an issue for you.
- Once your tickets are scanned, you cannot re-enter into parts of the Alhambra complex. So, explore the uttermost parts of the monument, relax, take a break and walk.
- Know what’s happening in Alhambra. The ins and outs there can change at any time. So, work with a specialist before planning to get there.
Now, have you been to the Alhambra in Granada?
What do you think about the place?
Drop your queries and comments in the comment section below!
And before you leave, do check our website for rare destinations and other vital information for your heart, mind and soul!