Destinations

The Alhambra, Granada’s Jewel on the Mountain

This past April I got a chance to visit Granada, Spain for the first time and walk all around the impressive Alhambra palace and fortress.

I had read about it, heard about it, seen many pictures on the internet, but nothing could have prepared for this once in a lifetime experience. Now I understand why over 2 million people a year come to the Alhambra, making it one of the Top 10 most visited palaces and castles in the world!

Keep in mind admission is limited to 6,600 tickets per day, and they usually sell very fast, so when you are planning your visit, try to purchase yours ahead of time. Tickets in the main office can cost you anywhere from 15-20€ . Click here for more information.

 

Welcome to the Alhambra

One of the first things you see (and impressed me to most)  when you walk into the Alhambra are the gardens of Generalife. The Generalife was built between the 12th and 14th Century and it  was used by the Muslim royalty as a place of rest.

Walking through the Lower Gardens

If you love flowers, May and June are the best months to visit as the are fully bloomed.

The Alhambra is an awe inspiring blend of Moorish and Christian architecture and design.

 

The Court of la Acequia in Generalife.

Here some interesting historical facts of the Alhambra that will help you better understand its grandiosity and historical value:

📌 The first signs of construction date back to at least the Roman times.

📌 It wasn’t until the 14th century that the foundations of the Alhambra as it is known today were laid.

📌 In the mid-13th century the Moorish emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar commissioned the palace’s construction, which was eventually turned into a royal palace by Yusuf I Sultan of Granada in the mid-14th century.

📌 1492 the Emir of Granada surrendered the Emirate of Granada to the Catholic Kings of Spain, King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile, who soon made it the home of the Royal Court.

📌 Under Christian ownership the Alhambra grew into the large complex of rooms, palaces, courtyards, chambers and gardens that we can admire today.

The Arab influence  is evident in the horseshoe arches, arabesques and calligraphy.

View of the Alcazaba the residential area of the royal guard in charge of the security of the palatial city.

View of Albaicín, a painteresque neighborhood that maintains the layout of Medieval Moorish narrow streets and well-kept traditional houses.

The Court of the Main Canal.

Here with the two “sultans” Luis and Franz. 😜

Things to keep in mind if you are visiting The Alhambra for the fist time:

💡 Ticket office opens from 8am-7pm during the summer season (March 15-October 14) and 8am-5pm in the winter period (October 15-March 14). The price of admission is €14 (£11) for adults and €8 for children aged 12-15. Visitors under 12 enter for free, but still need a ticket. The site is open 8.30am-8pm in summer and 8.30am-6pm in winter. Tickets are defined as “morning” or “afternoon” – with 2pm as the dividing hour.

💡 If you decide to go to Granada last minute and are unable to get tickets, you can have two options: 1. Try to make it out to the Alhambra as early as 6 am to buy one the 100 tickets that are held for early risers. 2. Hope there are cancellations and you get one of those tickets. 

💡 Get  a guide. You will find them in the main ticket office for an extra fee.  My amazing guide is called Luz and has been giving tours for over 20 years. If you are interested contact me and I will share her information.

💡 Wear confortable shoes because you will walking a lot. Expect to be there for at least 2 hours.

💡 There are four main places to visit: Alcazaba, Nasrid Palaces, Partal and Generalife. You should bear in mind that there is a specific time to access to the Nasrid Palaces, printed specifically on each admission ticket, when deciding the order of these places to visit.

💡 Unfortunately there is no international airport in Granada. You can either fly to Malaga, Madrid or Barcelona and rent a car and drive or get on the train. I took a bus from Malaga and was there Granada in 90 minutes.

Have you been to the Alhambra already? What was your experience? Tips and recommendations are always welcomed.