Everything You Need to Know About Visiting the Alhambra of Granada
One of the jewels of Spain is the Alhambra of Granada, a fortress and palace that tells the story of southern Spain. No trip to Andalusia is complete without a stop at this majestic example of architecture. The Alhambra is a must-see, so here is some historical and practical information you can use to help plan your trip!
Background and history
The Alhambra dates back to the year 889 AD when it was built upon the ruins of ancient Roman fortifications. However, it wasn’t until later on in the 13th century when the Emirate of Granada renovated the fortifications. Construction began on the palace at this time, and by 1333 it was declared a royal palace of Al-Andalus. Its name, meaning “the red” in Arabic, most likely comes from the reddish color of the earth used on the outer walls of the palace. Today, it is the oldest Muslim palace in the world, a remnant of Andalusia’s past and history.
The Alhambra’s grounds
The Alhambra of Granada is a large complex that has several different parts. The palace is in the Albayzín, the old Moorish quarter of the city. There are several entrances to the Alhambra, which include the Puerta de las Granadas, and the main entrance, the Puerta de la Justicia. Once inside, you’ll come upon the Alcazaba. This is the citadel and the oldest part of the complex. Next, you’ll see the Nasrid Palaces, the palaces of the Moorish leaders. Behind that is the Alhambra Alta, the home of court officials during the time of Moorish control. There is also a park that surrounds the palace that is open to the public to admire, the Alameda de la Alhambra.
Anther point of interest within the Alhambra of Granada is the Patio de los Leones. This long courtyard has 124 columns in the traditional Moorish style that is attributed to the Alhambra, with a fountain in the center. 12 marble lions surround the fountain, standing guard. The Sala de los Abencerrajes is a square room with beautiful arches and domes decorated with intricate filigree. There are endless things to see and marvel at, so be sure to take your time as you move from room to room to truly admire everything.
The Generalife lies farther out on the complex and is an important part of the Alhambra. This was the summer palace of the Nasrid rulers, which began to be built in 1273. Since then, the Generalife has been renovated and redecorated several times, but still retains the original style of architecture. One of the most beautiful features of the Generalife are the gardens and iconic pools and fountains. The Patio de la Acequia features a long, rectangular pool lined with flowers, plants, and pavilions. Have your camera ready, as you’ll definitely want to get a shot of this magnificent garden!
Tips for visiting
The Alhambra of Granada is the most visited monument in Spain, so you can expect it to be busy all year round. Especially during peak travel season, the Alhambra can get quite crowded with tourists and travelers. It is highly recommended that you buy your tickets ahead of time, since there is a set number of visitors allowed on the palace grounds per day. You can choose from the available times and purchase your tickets online or buy phone. Leave plenty of time for your visit as the grounds are quite large and there is a lot to see. Try a guided tour so that you can get some insider knowledge and history so that you know exactly what you’re looking at. Be sure to bring plenty of water in the summer and to wear comfy shoes for walking around, too!
After you visit the Alhambra, be sure to join Food Lover Tour on tasty food tour! We’ll take you to our favorite spots to eat and drink just like a local!