Alhambra Tip 3 - Nasrid Palaces
Favorite thing: This area was without a doubt one of the most impressive areas for architecture.
Complex of palaces, the residence of the kings of Granada. Its construction was started by the founder of the dynasty, Alhamar, in the thirteenth century, although the buildings that have survived to our time date mainly from the fourteenth century.
The walls of these palaces enclose the refinement and the delicateness of the last Hispano-Arab governors of Al Andalus, the Nasrids.
Three palaces form these premises:
The Comares, or Yusuf I Palace and
The Palace of the Lions, or of Mohammed V.
The intimate concept of the royal palace, closed to curious eyes, harmonises the robustness of the outside stretches of the walls with the fragility inside, where the architectural elements become purely ornamental. The poor materials used to decorate the palaces demonstrate the temporality of the construction compared with the cosmos, the proof of man's transient nature.
The patios, continuous allusions to gardens, with elements of Persian and Muslim inspiration, are a taste of paradise, a nomad's oasis, a delight to the senses.
Water, the element that shapes the palace, combining the garden with architecture, represents purity. Crystalline water running between the fountains' marble. Life-giving water making the garden lush and fresh, providing aesthetic beauty, the sultan's generosity... a whole world of symbols and stimuli.
Alhambra Tip 4 - The Medina Area
Favorite thing: The citadel had several public baths, ovens, workshops, silos and cisterns and, of course, the houses of top government officials, employees and court servants.
As a result of the war of Independence, the buildings were left in ruins and part of the rampart and its towers had to be reconstructed almost completely. Visitors can see the foundations of the constructions, as well as the rampart from inside, with the parapet walks, battlements and merlons and a great view of the Generalife from the eastern part.
When you come out of the Nasrid Palaces, you enter the *Partal Gardens, with the famous Torre de las Damas [Tower of the Ladies] and the enormous pond that was guarded until very recently by two majestic stone lions, which are today found in the Alhambra Museum.
In this area, near the pond, are the remains of the Palace of Yusuf III, which clearly wished to evoke its predecessor, the Comares Palace, and which was the residence of the governor of the Alhambra, the Marquis of Mondéjar.
A little further up is the San Francisco Parador, previously the monastery of the order and before that an Arab palace in the age of Yusuf V, free-standing, like the previous palace of Yusuf III.
On the way to the Generalife we pass by very interesting towers and a water system.
Alhambra Tip 5 - The Generalife
Favorite thing: Most likely if you are in Granada you are going to visit the Alhambra, this is just a friendly reminder not to forget the Generalife when you are there. The gardens are beautiful and if it is a sunny day you can see for miles. You get a great view of Granada and the Sierra Nevada. Also be warned the Alhambra in general may be crowded, it is the most visited site in Spain.
Leisure villa of the sultans of Granada, surrounded by orchards and gardens, the latter created recently, together with the amphitheatre at the entrance, which every year is the setting for some of the shows of the Music and Dance Festival.
The name, of doubtful origin, seems to come from the Arabic Yanat- al- Arif or Garden of the Architect, in a clear poetical-religious symbolism that refers to God, Allah, as an architect, the creator of the universe.
It is worthwhile climbing the Water Staircase, especially in summer, to let the clear, cold water, which runs down the banisters, slip through your fingers.
Fondest memory: Be sure to follow this link along to myGeneralife Travelogue.
The part of the Alhambra was great.
Alhambra Tip 2 - Charles V Palace
Favorite thing: This is one of the emperor's projects for the city of Granada and one of the most popular spots of the Alhambra. I hope you like my pictures. Please rate my tips and leave your comments.
The choice of the Alhambra for its construction shows the king's awareness of the beauty of the Arab palaces and his interest in preserving them for posterity.
The construction of the palace, which was started in 1533, was abandoned years later, as the kings had lost interest and the Court was already fully established in Madrid.
It was at the end of the twentieth century when the building's roofing was put in place and the museums were fitted out inside, the Fine Arts Museum on the top floor and the Alhambra Museum on the ground floor.
The building also houses temporary exhibitions, as well as some of the concerts of the Granada Music and Dance Festival in the courtyard.
In a Renaissance style, the palace represents the introduction of Italian classicism in Spanish civil architecture. Designed by Pedro Machuca, the concept of the project is extremely original, above all due to the addition of the round porticoed courtyard in the external square block and the harmonious distribution of the strengths. The facades are imposing and the main one, on the west face, is the most adorned and rich.
No ticket is necessary to visit the Charles V Palace, as it is permanently open at the same time as the Alhambra and it is free.
As far as the museums are concerned, the Fine Arts one is free for citizens of the UE on presentation of a passport, Identity Card, etc. The price for rest is €1.50.
The Alhambra Museum is free for all visitors.
Alhambra Tip 1 - Alcazaba
Favorite thing: The Alhambra is so big that I thought I would give a number of tips on it based on the pictures that I have.
The Alcazaba is the the fortified military complex. The first Arab constructions date from the Caliph period, possibly on the remains of a Roman fortification. In the eleventh century the Ziries extended the area when Granada became the capital of one of the Taifas [small independent kingdoms]. Nevertheless, the main constructions date from the Nasrid period, the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries. The complex also includes some Christian additions, such as the round Torre del Cubo [Cube Tower].
This area contains the famous Torre de la Vela, a watchtower that has an unbeatable view of the city, the Vega [fertile plain] and the Sierra Nevada mountains. The soldiers' houses have disappeared, and the dungeons are closed, but you can walk along some towers, the rampart and parapet walks and see the remains of the baths, silo, cisterns, etc.
Lorca and Granada
Favorite thing: Apart from Moorish and Catholic rulers, the poetry and story of Federico Garcia Lorca plays a large part in the appeal and mystique of Granada. His story brings us to a more recent phase of Granada's history and reminders that more people were killed here during the Spanish Civil War than in any other part of the country. Lorca himself, poet, Republican and homosexual was targeted by the Falangists and murdered outside of the city in 1936. Although Granada did not protect him when he needed it, Lorca's memory is now finally getting the acclaim it deserves and income from his devotees substantially bumps up the coffers of tourism. His birthplace, Huerta de San Vicente is now a museum and this is open to the public at a very minimal cost. Free guided tours are given throughout the day. If you want a more detailed overview of Lorca's life in Granada you can pay to join one of the specialist tours which retrace his steps and chronicle the main events of his short life. Reading some of Lorca's poetry before you visit makes it very easy to tune into the aspect of Granada that seems melancholy and brooding. If you click on the photograph, you will get the details necesary to book one ot the Lorca tours.
"The river Guadalquiver
has a pomegranate beard.
Two rivers in Granada
one of snow, the other of blood."
F. G. LorcaRelated to:
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
Plaza de Nueva - reflecting Granada's history
Favorite thing: Plaza de Nueva, like the cathedral, was built as a reminder that Catholicism had taken over from Islam and Ferdinand and Isabela were now calling the shots. As well as destroying the large mosque to make way for their cathedral, once Bobadil had been driven out of the city they lost no time in attempting to wipe out as much evidence of his rule as they possibly could. In Plaza Nueva there was a ritual burning of more than 80,000 books from the Muslim university library. This imediately brings to mind the burning of Jewish books by the nazis and of course, persecution of the Jewish community was another prominent feature of the reign of the Catholic monarchs. From Plaza Nueva you can head up to the Alhambra via the Cuesta de Gomerez or start your exploration of the Albaicin, along Carrera De Darro. The church of Santa Ana is the most interesting building in the Plaza and in its construction, echoes the constant theme of Isalm v Catholicism that dominates Granada. Though built in the 16th century, long after the Moors had gone, the bell tower was actually originally a minaret from a mosque which once stood in this place.
Now Plaza de Nueva is awash with outdoor cafes and bars and there's usually plenty of impromptu entertainment going on there as well.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Castles and Palaces
Granada's location along our route
Favorite thing: This terrain map gives an overview of our driving route in southern Spain. After flying in from Madrid, we spent two nights in Alicante in the upper right corner before making the long drive along the coast to Torremolinos. After picking up Sue's sister at the airport, the next morning we headed straight north into the Sierra Nevada mountain ranges before veering off to the right (east) for our two nights in Granada (near the centre of the map).
From there we headed west to Seville, Cadiz and then back down to the coast for a few days before Sue's sister flew home again. After a few more days on our own, Sue and I made it back to the very outskirts of Granada on New Year's Day when we made a day-trip drive along the coast a short distance (from Torremolinos again) before taking the other 'orange' diagonal route through the mountains before returning straight south to the coast (as described in my 'Torremolinos' page).Related to:
- Road Trip
- Historical Travel
- Castles and Palaces
Power to the People
Favorite thing: This tip is for those who have not traveled extensively throughout Europe and have never seen this type of electrical outlet before.
Fondest memory: I had not ever seen this little box to put your room key in which in turn, activates the power in your hotel room. No one at the front desk mentioned it to me, so was I glad when I found out from friends that in order to get power to your room, one must place the hotel key (or a piece of cardboard) into the slot by the door. Whew! I thought for a minute my "Hello Kitty!" flashlight and I were going to be in high demand on this trip!Related to:
- Business Travel
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
Bursting With Culture. A great place to live!!!!
Favorite thing: My family is actually British and I have lived in Spain for five years. I moved to Granada in September 2004 from a town in Cádiz called El Puerto de Santa María. I was a little fed up with the small town atmosphere if you know what I mean. I am much happier in Granada where there is so much culture and art. Though when people ask me I always say I'm from Cádiz (though when I say this people look at me strangely because my Spanish is far from perfect).
For me home is always the last place I lived!
My favourite thing about Granada is that there are interesting people from all over Spain and the world here. I am learning so much about Africa, the Middle East and South America. The Grenadinos are also fantastic people (in general). I love the way they accept foreign cultures and want to explore the world. Some people in El Puerto thought that it was the best place in the world and didn't want to explore. I think that is a shame. Cádiz and Granada are both wonderful places, but the world is big and beautiful and different! You've got to get out there and see it!
Fondest memory: My fondest memory will always be of my first day in living in the Albaicin when a 7/8 year old boy came to my window and offered me a plate of free grapes his family had grown. He turned out to be my neighbour. The next time he saw me he ran up to me and hugged me. My other neighbours also ended up being unbelievably friendly too (including Petri the dog and Negri the cat!). They made me feel so welcome! I love living in a community!
Favorite thing: These little fellas are such wonderful creatures; they live in Granada and all over the south of Spain too. They are a very common sight all year round but especially in the summer months. There are two types of lizard type creatures that you may see, but this type is by far the cutest. Look at his little hands; he has little suction pads on them! These Geckos also have oscillating eyes too!
Don’t try and catch them because they are fast little critters and if you pull their tails they will fall off as a defence mechanism!
This photo was taken in my bathroom when I discovered I had a new house guest. This morning I have been looking for him, but I think he might have exited via the toilet! Oh, well maybe he'll reappear later!
The Spice Market
Favorite thing: The spice market is really just big two stalls at the side of the cathedral. Here you can buy any Arabic or South/Central American spice you can think off as well as teas and herbs.
Saffron (Azarfran) is usually very expensive in Spain. Here you can get a large bag of ground saffron for a couple of euros or the real thing for cheaper than anywhere else.
Just to walk past and take in all the smells is an amazing treat too, though I recommend buying something to help spice up your cooking!Related to:
- Arts and Culture
A WONDERFUL DAY IN GRANADA
Favorite thing: I want to take this opportunity to thank two wonderful friends -- Stace ( Beach_Dog ) and Carmen ( Carmela 71 ) for our WONDERFUL DAY IN GRANADA and The Alhambra. You were both terrific tour guides and so knowledgeable and fun to be with. Hans and I really love you two.Related to:
- Family Travel
Palm Trees and Dates!
Favorite thing: One of the things I love most about Granada and the south of Spain in general are the date palm trees. As you can see from the photos dates grow on the palm trees which is an added bonus to the charm they already have.
I love living somewhere where palm trees grow. It reminds you how lucky I am to be living in a tropical place!Related to:
Granada City Pass
Favorite thing: There is another way to get tickets for Alhambra: the Granada City Pass (Bono turístico de Granada). There are 3 and 5 days passes. The pass includes the visit of the main sights: Alhambra (Generalife, Alcazaba and Nasrid Palaces), Cathedral, Royal chapel (Catholic Monarchs' mausoleum), La Cartuja Monastery, San Jerónimo Monastery and Science Park. It includes also 5 or 9 bus rides, according to the pass you chose (3 or 5 days). The price is 27.00 euro (3 days pass) or 32.00 euro (5 days pass).
You can buy it at Caja Granada. At the moment you buy it, you can chose the day you will visit the Alhambra and the hour you will enter the Nasrid Palaces.
It can be bought in advance through the website or by phone, calling the Caja Granada Information and Reservations Centre: (+34) 902 100 095 / 958 244 500.
You can also buy it directly:
Caja Granada branch at Plaza Isabel la Católica No 6.
Monday to Friday, 9am to 2pm (working days).
Form of payment: cash.
Caja Granada branch in the Neptuno shopping centre, Calle Arabial s/n.
Monday to Saturday, 10am to 2pm and 4pm to 8pm (working days).
Form of payment: cash.
This.is:granada audio guide kiosk on Plaza Nueva, s/n (beside the bus stop for the Alhambra)
Tel.: 958 210 239 www.thisis.ws
Kiosk opening hours:
April to October, Monday to Saturday, 9:30am to 2:30pm and 4pm to 8pm
Sunday, 9:30am to 2:30pm and 4pm to 7pm
November to March, Monday to Sunday, 10am to 2pm
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