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Why visit the Alhambra in Granada

By Karen Isschel, Paulina Sánchez |

Visit the Alhambra, one of the 44 amazing Spanish icons that give this country the third place in World Heritage sites listed by UNESCO.

There are a lot of Spanish sites declared as World Heritage, but some of the most beautiful ones are Santiago de Compostela, Gaudí’s masterpiece, and El Escorial, which we have introduced you to here in DINKtravelers. We won’t get tired of speaking about the beauties of Spain that gave that country the bronze medal in World Heritage, with 44 spectacular icons, and that’s why we’ll take you to its mystical Alhambra.

The Alhambra of Granada

There’s a place in Granada City full of enormous constructions and beautiful gardens that were inhabited by a whole kingdom. We’re talking about the Alhambra. This site located in Spain is so big that it’s considered a city within Granada!

The Alhambra is a palatine city made of claystone. It was formerly called al-Qalá al-Hamrá, in Arab, which means “red castle”; that’s because of the color from the clay that characterizes the whole place. However, its name is not the only special thing that this building has. Its monumental dimensions (720m long and 220m width), as well as its abundant and complex decorations, stand out too.

History of the Alhambra

The beauty of the Alhambra rises from the highest point of Sabika Hill. Can you imagine all of those red tones in the heights? That locaton was chosen for the construction for two main reasons. First, they wanted all the people at the bottom of the hill to witnesses the power and wealth of the dynasties of the kings of Granada. On the other hand, it was designed like a fortress, so that they could detect the enemies from afar and be ready to attack.

Tour of the Alhambra

When you visit this site declared as World Heritage by UNESCO, go first to the Alcazaba, a military area that is one of the most ancient constructions. That’s where some defensive battles were fought and where they safeguarded peace. One of our main recommendations is to go up to Torre de la Vela, where you can enjoy a view of every corner of Granada from a height of over 26 meters!

As a fun fact, there’s a big bell in this tower. This was used as a kind of wake-up alarm for all the farmers because, when it was working, it started to ring at 20:00h to announce the hour to water their lands. Then, it would continue ringing at intervals until 3:00h. Can you imagine how strong this bell was in order to be heard from all over the city?

Nasrid Palaces

Afterwards, go to the Nasrid Palaces, the part of the complex where you will spend more time. There, you’ll find three palaces built in different periods: the Mexuar, Comares, and the Palace of the Lions. What characterizes these palaces is that they were meant to be inhabited by the Muslim royalty. That way, each palace has different characteristics, chosen by each sultan.

Wonders of the Palace of the Lions

Particularly, the Palace of the Lions is considered the best in Nasrid art. It comprises the famous Court of the Lions that shows an amazing decorative wealth, besides owning a proportional and visual perfection.

The treasure of this site is the Lion Fountain, which was made with a complex system that keeps the level of the water flat like a mirror without overflowing. How’s that special? Remember that water was a valued element for Islamic civilizations from the desert. That’s why it’s very awesome that they became masters of hydraulic systems inherited by Romans, Persians, and Egyptians.

Water Mirror of the Court of the Myrtles

On the other side, Comares Palace’s court, also known as Court of the Myrtles, comprises a big water mirror that reflects the architecture of the building to perfection.

The Fountains of Generalife

Your next stop is the Generalife, a place comprised of gardens and a palace that worked as a recreational area for the kings of Granada. Don’t miss the Patio de la Acequia, where you’ll see jumping water jets that seem to be dancing. We recommend getting there at sunset because you’ll be able to smell the fragrances of over 600 plants and flowers such as jasmine and orange blossom. It will be an unforgettable experience!

Charles V’s Influence in the Alhambra

Add a contrasting touch to your tour by visiting the Palace of Charles V. The Spanish monarch was so spellbound by Muslim architecture that he moved to the Alhambra. However, he added his own Western touch to the complex by building a Renaissance palace.

This way, two worlds come together at the Alhambra: the Western, with its loud and sober architecture, and the Eastern, represented in more female constructions with fine details, slender columns, and rich ornaments.

The Flavors of the Alhambra

When you finish strolling through these gardens and palaces of amazing beauty, we recommend makine a pause at San Francisco’s parador. There you can find restaurants ready to extol your taste with the most exquisite dishes that express the fusion of cultures between Muslims and Hispanics. From Mozarabic sauce to cabrito, your palate won’t be the only to enjoy because these restaurants have spectacular views of the gardens of Generalife. A feast for kings!

Tips for your Visit to the Alhambra

It’s important for you to know that the Council of the Alhambra and Generalife has established a maximum capacity of 300 persons every 30 minutes. So, check your entrance ticket where you can find the specific hour for your visit the Nasrid Palaces.

At the same time, consider that the entrance ticket for this site costs approximately 14 euros for the general public, except for kids under 12 years old, who don’t need pay. This ticket includes all the historic sites that we’ve talked about before in this article.

How to Get to the Alhambra

DINKtravelers, your world travel guide, recommends 3 ways to get to the Alhambra in order to make your trip unforgettable.

  • By bus. Take the C3 bus, at Plaza Isabel la Católica in Granada, that will take you to the Alhambra’s ticket offices.
  • By car. It’s easy to get there this way because you’ll find a lot of road signs that will lead you to this site. There’s a parking lot near the Alhambra’s ticket offices, where your car will be safe.
  • If you’re more into walking, you can hike through Cuesta de Gomérez. It’s a 20 minute trail to get to the ticket offices.

With that amount of cultural richness, you can’t avoid visiting the Alhambra, Granada’s “Red Castle”, and its beautiful water mirror and fountains that represent Arab art. You’ll be surprised!