Alhambra

Spain

Alhambra palace and fortress in Spain is a symbol of Moorish culture and architecture. Built on a plateau that overlooks the city of Granada, the palace was constructed between 1238 and 1358, in the reigns of Ibn al-Aḥmar, founder of the Naṣrid dynasty, and his successors. The name Alhambra, in Arabic is “the red or crimson castle,” and probably derived from the colour of the sun-dried tapia, bricks that were made of fine gravel and clay, that the outer walls were built in. At night the walls look silver but by day when the sunlight hits the walls are transformed into gold.

For many tourists Alhambra is an essential pilgrimage on any trip to this magnificnet part of the world, as a result it gets pretty crowded, especially at the height of summer, when some 6000+ visitors wander through daily.

 

Alhambra has quite a history.  The beautiful decorations of the interior are ascribed to Yūsuf I who died in 1354. After the expulsion of the Moors in 1492, most of the interior was damaged and the furniture was ruined or removed. Charles V, who ruled in Spain as Charles I from 1516–56, rebuilt portions in the Renaissance style and destroyed part of the Alhambra in order to build an Italianate palace designed by Pedro Machuca in 1526.  In 1812 some of the towers were blown up by the French during the War of Independence, and in 1821 an earthquake caused further damage to the structure. Restoration of the building began in 1828 and has continued throughout the 20th century.

 

Getting There:

If you want to take the bus then there are two buses which now go to the Alhambra: bus C3 and bus C4. Both buses leave from the bus stop behind the statue of Queen Isabel la Católica and Christopher Columbus at the end of the Gran Vía.

The route for bus C3 is: Plaza Isabel la Católica - Plaza Fortuny - Calle Molinos - other stops - Generalife (ticket office) - Puerta de la Justicia - Hotel Palace - Calle Santiago - Plaza Isabel la Católica

The route for bus C4 is: Plaza Isabel la Católica - Plaza Fortuny - Calle Molinos - other stops - Generalife (ticket office) - Generalife (car park) - Barranco del Abogado - Campo de Príncipe - Plaza Isabel la Católica

A popular way to get to the palace is to walk. Head down the Cuesta de Gomérez from the Plaza Nueva, then enter the grounds of the Alhambra through the Cuesta de Gomérez and subsequently through the beautiful Gate of Justice, after walking through some woods.

It takes less than a quarter of an hour to walk there.

The walk starts with the Gate of the Pomegranates, which was built in 1536 in place of the Old Gate, at the end of the Cuesta de Gomérez.

Just after the Puerta de las Granadas are three routes that you can take.

The first is via the main road which leads to a small square containing the Fountain of Tomato, a monument dedicated to the writer Angel Gavinet Granada.

To the left you will see, among the trees, the Gate of Bibarambla. It was once part of a wall that was demolished in 1894 and also known as the Gateway of the Ears and Hands, as it was here where the hands and ears of those convicted by the courts were hung.

If you walk to the right you will reach the Bermejas Towers, and to the left you will reach the main entrance of the Alhambra, but before this you will have gone through the Pillar of Charles V. A fountain whose water hydrants represent, according to tradition, the three rivers of Granada: Beyro, Darro and Genil.  

You will enter the walled enclosure of the Alhambra through the Gate of Justice. This 14th century gate has two arches on its outer side. At the top of the arch you will see an Arab hand, which is the hand of Fátima, whose five fingers represent the basic principles of the Islamic faith - divine unity, prayer, alms, fasting and pilgrimage to Mecca.

On the inside, at the top of the arch, you'll see a key, which also appears on the other gates and it represents the power that God gave to Muhammad to open and close the gates of Heaven.

When you are inside you will see the Puerta del Vino, located near the entrance of the Alhambra and the ticket office.

Tickets:

You will need a ticket to visit the Alhambra and Generalife Gardens. It is best to pre-booked in advance as each ticket has an allocated entry time for the Nasrid Palaces. The number of admissions per day and hour is limited to protect the monument, and tickets usually sell out before the end of each day. You can collect pre-booked tickets from the ticket office at the entrance.

If you choose not to pre-book your ticket then you will need to arrive at the ticket office early on the day you plan on visiting, especially during high season, which is April to June. Buying tickets from the 'on the day' allocation are limited, so queues start well before the ticket office opens at 8am.

Make note: The palaces are located about half an hour's walk from the Alhambra ticket office, so you will need to arrive earlier than the time on your ticket. Be aware that if you miss your time slot to visit the Nasrid Palaces, you will be denied entry to this stunning complex of buildings, but not the outer areas or the Generalife Gardens.

Checkout some tours below that include the Alhambra:

 

 

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