AL-HAMBRA, GRANADA, SPAINNo more words to describe how is amazing this. Mezquita and Alhambra one of places that have a million history about renaissance of Europe, I think I'm fallin in love with, Cordoba and Granada. Europe so mysterious. Now, I wanna share you about how is beautiful Al-Hambra at Granada, the most amazing castle in Europe.
The Alhambra Granada Spain is, by head and shoulders, my favourite castle in the world. It's got a magic feeling to it - a raise-the-hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck kind of buzz that envelops you from the moment you begin the steep climb to its entrance-way. The entire place rustles with incredible Arabic myths, and is filled with the whispers of ghosts from times gone by. It's staggeringly beautiful, and feels like a creation from an old story-book, miraculously brought to life.
To help you picture it in your mind, the Alhambra Granada Spain stands proudly atop of one of the steep vantage-points in the city, a hill called La Sabika. The castle lurks behind blood-red boundary walls, and is framed against the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain-range, some distance behind.
|The Alhambra at sunset, perched upon the hill named La Sabika, and surrounded by cypress trees. The Sierra Nevada lurks in the distance.|
"Alhambra" is a Spanish rendering of the Arabic words "qa'lat al-Hamra", meaning "red castle". The significance of the "red" part is easy to see, as it comes from the dusty red stone that was used to build the thick walls around the castle.
Discovering the magic of the Alhambra Granada Spain...
- Uncovering the history of the Alhambra
- Visiting the gem at its heart: the Palacio Nazaries
- The impressive Alcazaba castle, the Palace of Carlos V, and the Generalife
- Important tips to make the most of your visit
A potted history of the Alhambra Granada Spain
Due to the exceptional strategic potential of the Alhambra's site, it's been used as a location for a fortress since about the 9th century. The most glorious part of the Alhambra's history, though, was its time under the Nasrid emirs of the c13th-14th - when the Moors (Muslims from North Africa) still reigned in this part of Spain. Yusuf I and Mohammed V built the most beautiful sections of the complex, the Palacio Nazaries, intended for living and accommodation.
|Reflective green pools of the Generalife gardens, close to the exit of the Palacio Nazaries. The entire site is flanked with cool, shady palm trees. Credit: Edd Morris, Exploring Castles.|
After the Spanish Christian monarchs defeated the Moors and captured Granada in 1492, they used the Alhambra as their own palace - adding sections and destroying others, including, terribly, a significant chunk of the Palacio Nazaries. In addition to this, the entire site fell into significant disrepair in the 1700s, and was only placed under protection as an international monument in about 1870.
Happily, nowadays, the Alhambra Granada Spain is a well-cared for UNESCO World Heritage site. The only issue which may rather spoil your enjoyment is that you might be accompanied by too many other tourists - there's unfortunately no way around this, as a timed ticketing system means that the Alhambra is busy from the moment it opens to the second it shuts. Even with the crowds, though, you won't fail to be swept up in the castle's magic. Here's more about this incredible place.
Shady archways were built throughout the Palacio Nazaries, to allow royalty to enjoy the views and fresh air, without being burned by the scorching summer sun. Credit: Edd Morris, Exploring Castles.
Exploring the sensational Palacio Nazaries
The Palacio Nazaries is the high-point of a visit to the Alhambra Granada Spain. It's definitely the most beautiful Muslim building in Europe, and is in remarkable condition, considering it was built in the c13th and has suffered years of abuse since. The Palacio Nazaries contains beautiful courtyards filled with sparkling water; tall, cool chambers filled with intricate, geometric Arabic tiling, and elaborate ante-rooms, filled with stucco-work etched onto dark walls.
On your visit to the Palacio, you'll pass through numerous rooms, alcoves, and mesmeric cubby-holes. However, the palace consists of and distinct sections: which include the Mexuar connecting to the Patio del Cuatro Dorado; Palacio de Comares; and the Palacio de los Leones.
|Beautiful stucco detailing in the Palacio Nazaries. For obvious reasons, visitors are carefully watched to make sure they don't touch or break this magnificent craft. Credit: Edd Morris, Exploring Castles.|
The Mexuar is the first hall you'll enter, and sets you up for the majesty of the rest of the palace. It's pierced by tall, wooden columns, and beautiful Arabic tiling lines the walls. From this room, you'll walk through the Patio del Cuatro Dorado - basically an airy little connecting way between the two palaces. Off to one side of it is the 'Cuatro Dorado', or 'golden room' itself - the name is slightly misleading, and more means 'guilded room', in reference to the hugely ornate stucco-work ceilings.
|nterior detailing of the connecting pathway between the Mexuar and the Comares Palace. As you can see, the level of ornate carving is unbelievable. Credit: Edd Morris, Exploring Castles.|
On walking through this connecting patrio, you'll enter the Comares Palace. It's a collection of majestic rooms, all collected around a central courtyard of the Myrtle-trees. It was the most important palace in the Alhambra - location of the throne of Yusuf I. The magnificent Salon de Embajadores is the throne-room, and, if you look to the ceiling, you'll be able to see ornate details in the woooden ceiling, which represent the seven Islamic heavens, through which a soul must ascend after death.
The final - and most magnificent stop - is the adjoining palace built by Mohammed V - the Palacio de los Leones (of the lions). This palace is set around the world-famous Patio de los Leones, a beautiful patio where water trickles from the mouths of 12 marble lions. Unfortunately, this jaw-dropping sight tends to be somewhat ovverrun by tourists. Around this span out some heart-stoppingly beautiful rooms and chambers, including the Sala de Dos Hermanas, with its huge central dome and star-like constellations; and the Sala de los Reyes, wih padded, leather-lined ceilings.
Cool green pools of the Partal Gardens, at the exit of the Palacio Nazaries. Credit: Edd Morris, Exploring Castles.
Tired and feeling probably quite emotional after all that world-class sight-seeing, you'll leave the Alhambra Granada Spain via the beautifully manicured Partal Gardens.
Other Attractions in the Alhambra: the Palace of Carlos V, the Alcazaba, and the Generalife
The magic of the Alhambra Granada Spain doesn't begin and end in the Palacio Nazaries. There's plenty more to bedazzle you.
The Palacio de Carlos V is a slightly weird, but nonetheless interesting, addition to the Alhambra complex. It was built as an add-on by the Spanish in 1532, and is a series of rooms around a vast, columned, circular courtyard. It's certainly impressive, although it's rather overshadowed by other parts of the Alhambra. Inside, you'll find a Museum of the Alhambra Granada Spain, which hosts a treasure-trove of historical nicknacks, and the Museum of Fine Arts (amusingly free for EU nationals only), which displays art and scuplture with a Granada theme.
|This is the Palacio Carlos V. As you can see, Renaissance-style marble columns surround the central, circular courtyard. Credit: Edd Morris, Exploring Castles.|
The Alcazaba is the truest 'castle-y bit' of the Alhambra: a fortress with several towers. Many of the buildings are sadly destroyed nowadays, but there are two beautiful towers to climb, including Torre de la Vela, the watchtower, which can be scaled for lovely, gusty views across the city of Granada. The Alcazaba stood firm until 1492 when the Spanish forces conquered the Alhambra: that year, after capture, the flag of the reconquista was flown, demonstrating that Spain had expelled the Moors from her lands.
A view within the Alcazaba: looking towards the Torre de la Vela. Granada spreads out beneath like a delicate carpet. Credit: Edd Morris, Exploring Castles.
And last, but by no means least, are the beautiful gardens of the Generalife. Meaning 'architects gardens', the Generalife is an outstandlingly beautiful network of delicate water-fountains, carefully-clipped bushes and fragrant flowers, criss-crossed with gravel paths. It's a lovely place to while away a relaxing few hours.
The Moors brought irrigation to Spain - and Alhambra is filled with the sounds of trickling water. Credit: Edd Morris, Exploring Castles.