I came to Granada at very short notice so I didn’t have time to book a normal cheap ticket to go and see the Alhambra. They sell out weeks ahead, and although there are a few held back for purchase on the day, they are taken as soon as it opens.
An easier way to go is to take a guided tour and I was able to book one through the receptionist at my hotel as soon as I arrived. It cost €55 (in 2017, as opposed to €15 under your steam) but it saved me lots of hassle and Daniel our guide was quite knowledgeable. I went with the Granada Travel Centre granadatravel.com. There are several other outfits but GTC picked me up and dropped me back at the hotel which sold it to me.
Bear in mind that the Alhambra has on average eight thousand visitors a day so it’s virtually impossible to have the place to yourself. Mornings are the best time to go, the gates open at 08.30.
The Alhambra is actually a complex of different palaces and fortifications. The first one to visit is the Palacio del Generalife www.alhambra-patronato.es which is separated from the Alhambra by a ravine.
It was built in the late thirteenth century as a place for the Nasrid rulers to relax and there are several lovely tranquil areas. Particularly famous is Patio de la Acequia (Court of the Water Channel); a long water pool fed by fountains and framed by flowerbeds on either side.
There are also other beautiful internal gardens.
An interesting fact I learned from the guide was that Islamic fountains are always soothing and quiet whereas Christian fountains are deliberately noisy in order to attract attention!
For the North African Moors water was a symbol of power, so they built aqueducts stretching several kilometeres to bring it from the hills.
The interior of the palace contains beautifully carved Arabesques.
Click to enlarge.
Outside the palace is the the Jardím de la Sultana (Sultana’s Garden or Courtyard of the Cypress).
The garden is very beautiful but most likely not authentic as its reconstruction in 1931 was done purely by imagination.
You can get excellent views over the town from here.
The artistic intention was to symbolise God’s creation of the universe.
This honeycomb or stalactite effect is known as Mocárabe in Iberian architecture.
The windows in the hall are also very intricate.
As are others elsewhere in the palace.
Nearby is the Patio de Los Leones www.alhambradegranada.org, another stunningly beautiful work.
Also of interest is the Mexuar Hall www.alhambradegranada.org which has undergone many alterations over the centuries as its use has changed.
Here are some more Arabesques from the Nasrid palaces. Click to enlarge.
And some other shots from around the Nazrid Palaces.
And of course the views are wonderful from here.
It’s incredible to think that the whole complex was nearly blown up by Napoleon’s troops.
If you don’t actually make it inside the Alhambra, you can still get a good view of if from Plaza San Nicolas which has a nice vibe in the evenings. If you want a drink and a seat with your view, try this place…
El Huerto de Juan Ranas (Intermediate B+), 6 Calle Atarazana Vieja
This is bar on the at the top of the Albacin has a fantastic view of the Alhambra which is immediately opposite on the next hill. You could walk up but it’s quite hard going. Much easier to splash out on a taxi which will get you to the top for around €6.
Nicky and I got a table and had a G&T while taking in the vista. They weren’t cheap, €9.50 each, but you’re paying for the location. They do food (no reservations taken) but I haven’t tried it. A friend who came in the evening, just to see the Alhambra at dusk, said that the Rabo de Toro was pretty good.
I took heaps more photos but I think that’s enough for today, I’m getting hungry!