The Alhambra is one of the most visited monuments in Spain, and it obviously worth to visit it, but, as sometimes is overcrowded and it is much bigger than we firt could thought.
Our first option was get tickets to visit it on your own, but we read that they were sold out, and some frinds told us that going the same day of your visit to buy it was crazy. We did not weant to spend our days in Granada queing, so we decided to book a guided visit, and we did not regret.
Our guide was very knowledgeable, and friendly. He transported us to an old era, where moorish ruled in the Iberian Peninsula, and the Alhambra was a jewel desired by every king on Earth.
Its wonderful architecture, the mumur of the water running though its streets, fountains and even ladders, the poetry in its walls and the exuberance of its plants and flowers... Tha Alhambra and Generalife leave you breathless, and we were able to appreciate all this due to our guide. We did not have to queue to get our tickets, we walk around every single corner during three hours, and we enjoyed a travel in time...
An unique experience that we recommend everyone. We book with http://en.alhambraonline.com/, just in case it is useful for anyone.
There is so much to see and take in at the Alhambra that I found myself without enough time in one day to take it in. Here are some options to take in the sights of the Alhambra;
HOW TO SEE IT
Audioguides- The audioguide to the Alhambra is well done and easy to follow. It is available from the Main Ticket Office or at The Carlos V Palace office for 4 euros. The guide is available in five languages; English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
Bring a Good Guide Book- I prefer the Rick Steeves Spain Guidebook because it walks you through room by room of what to see at the Nasrid Palace as well as some general information on the Generalife and Fortress.
Interactive Map- The interactive map at alhambradegranada.org works really great on your smart phone. The map is usual means of determining both where you are at the Alhambra as well as some very good descriptions of what to see.
WHAT TO SEE
For my Granada pages I have broken the Alhambra up into three main areas and have prepared pages on some of the main sites. These areas inlcude; the Generalife Gardens, the Fortress or Alcazab, and the Nasrid Palaces.
My list below is only a partial list of the many things to see. It represents the sites that I photographed and felt that a separate page would best serve to demonstrate the area. HIn the coming weeks I will develop links for each page.
Generalife Main Page
Patio of the Irrigation Ditch
Carlos or Charles V Palace
Court of the Myrtles
Hall of the Ambassadors
Hall of the Kings
Hallway With A View
Palace and Patio of the Lions
As you have probably read there are many towers that make up the Alhambra. One tower that was not on my list to see but i was drawn up its stairs is the Watch Tower. It is a popular spot for Alhambra visitors because of its great views of the surrounding area and seems to be filled with lots of kids. It is also one of the tallest towers at the Alhambra and has four floors with arches supported by pillars.
On top of the Watch Tower there is a bell. The bell has a lot of significance in the history of the Alhambra. Years ago it was rung at night to remind the farmers in the valley below that it was time to water their fields and also as a signal of danger or attack. Every year the bell is rung on January 2nd to remind all that this way the day that the Catholic Monarchs took control of the City from the Muslims.
The tower is definitely worth a trip to the top to see the great views in all directions.
Tickets for the Alhambra were sold out for the entire month when we started queuing on 10 Apr 2011. A limited number of same day tickets was still available for the Generalife gardens.
However, there is a night session for the Alhambra and same day tickets are available. These sessions are not widely advertised. They start at 10.30 PM.
Tickets at the vending machines with a credit card are more expensive than at the counter.
Expect staff to be unfriendly with limited English: information is not to be obtained at the ticketing office but from a lady hovering near the queue.
The Alhambra was certainly the highlight to a wonderful trip to Granada. Sitting on top of the hill, the Alhambra stands as a fortress guarding and looking over the city below. It is about a mile walk up the hill to the office from the center of the city below.
The walk itself is quite lovely, winding through trees and dotted with pools and fountains. Once at the top of the hill, tourists are bombarded with restaurants, shops, and tourist stalls. Mostly, the same things are sold as at the center of the city, along the walk to the main entrance. Here, tourists can grab a quick snack or purchase souvenirs while waiting for their appointed time into the attraction.
For more pictures of the Alhambra, please see my travelogues, Alhambra 1, and Alhambra 2
Will certainly visit the Alhambra and Generalife :)
Allow one full day for the Alhambra and Generalife. That is provided you have booked the tickets in advance over the internet.
The picture shows the beautiful Patio De Los Leones inside the Nasrid Palace. Impressive architecture!
No doubt that the Alhambra is a pearl in the heart of Andalucia, there for, if you are traveling in the south of Spain , in the Costa del sol, then it is easy to drive to Granada and it is only tow hours drive from Malaga .
The Alhambra in Granada is really one of the most artful places I was at in Spain.
It's a tour when you can see and take some impressive fotos .
The Grenadian people, speaks their Spanish very fast, maybe more then any other city in Andalucia. Still, like most of Spanish people they are great people, and even though they don't speak English, they will kindly guide you to where ever you need to go.
There are so many tips and so much information about the Alhambra that it seems to me superfluous to write an informative tip as I have nothing new to offer. I’ll just write my impressions from my last visit, in August 2010.
We went up early by bus. As we had the city pass we skipped the queue. As soon as we entered, went to the Generalife (pics 1 & 2). The paths were humid and fresh and walking among the hedges and parterres was a pleasure. There weren’t many people there at that time. From the Generalife there are superb views of the Albaicin and Sacromonte.
Then we went down, walking slowly, and visited the baths, the church that once was the cathedral and some shops that occupy old houses of the complex, also with rich decoration.
We went to the Alcazaba (pic 3). By then the sun was quite high and it was already very hot. There are nice views of the city and the Alhambra.
Next visit was the jewel of the day: the Nasrid Palaces (pic 4). After queuing for a while, we entered in the palaces. The first rooms were too crowded, as hundreds of people had just come in, but anyway we enjoyed the details of the architecture and the decoration of the palaces. There are so many rooms and corners, yards with fountains, balconies covered by latticework… One cannot help thinking that the kings of Granada, surrounded by so much luxury, softened and gave up the fight against the advance of the Christian kingdoms, and when those kingdoms finally united, the fall of Granada was unavoidable.
Our last stop was the Palace of Carlos V (pic 5), who ordered its construction when he visited the Alhambra after his wedding with Isabel de Portugal in 1526. It is a curious building: the plan is square and the interior patio is circular. A Renaissance palace in the middle of a complex of Arabic palaces, fortresses and gardens. The building houses two museums: Museo de Bellas Artes de Granada (Fine Arts Museum) and Alhambra Museum.
La Alhambra, the jewel of Andalucía and a true architectural marvel, is a fortified complex of residential palaces and other edifices built between the 13th and 15th centuries by the Nasrid dynasty. Al-Hamra, its name in Arabic, means "la roja" or "the red one", referring to the reddish coloured stones from which the complex was built. The beauty of its Islamic architecture is amplified by the scenic backdrop of the snow-capped mountains of la Sierra Nevada, along with the strategic views over the city of Granada. It is said that the grandeur of Alhambra was a deliberate attempt to mask the declining power of the Moorish rulers in the face of the advancing Catholic Monarchs (los Reyes Católicos) from the north. Following the takeover by los Reyes Católicos, the complex remained in use by the city's new rulers who subsequently made architectural modifications to suit their taste and lifestyle. Most important of those are the Renaissance-style Palacio Carlos V and Iglesia Santa María, built on the site of the Alhambra's mosque. To visit Andalucía without seeing Alhambra is unforgivable!!!!
Specific structures of Alhambra are described under separate tips on this page. For additional photos, check out the travelogue: "la Alhambra."
I finally bought the tickets for Alhambra from this website
They charge 18 euros per ticket instead of 12, but I guess it's worth it. You can't just go to Granada and leave your visit to Alhambra to chance.
ServiCaixa just wouldn't accept my card... I have no idea why, I use it to book/buy things on the internet all the time.
Anyway, I finally have the tickets! Yaay, so excited! :)
The Partal is a group of gardens and around are a good many towers (Ladies, Oratory, Spikes, Magistrate or Oil Lamp, Captive Lady, Kings Daughters, End of the Track, Water Tower, Seven Floors, Captain, Witch and Gate of Justice.
It doesn't matter which direction you look in - there is just beauty to behold and spectacular views to admire.
You cannot necessarily get into all of the towers - some may be locked.
"Pause on the esplanade of La Sabika and gaze upon your surroundings. The city is a lady whose husband is the hill. She is clasped by the belt of the river, and flowers smile like jewels at her throat... La Sabika is a crown upon the brow of Granada, In which the stars yearn to be studded. And the Alhambra - God watch over it! Is a ruby at the crest of that crown."
An UNESCO World Heritage Site and definitely on the list of places to see before you die!
Exotic. Imaginative. Sensual. Romantic. Alluring. Charming. Monumental - The Alhambra has it all!
Alhambra means red (Arabic). Red castle .."by the light of torches, the reflections of which gave the walls their particular coloration." The Alhambra was built for military purposes but as well as being a fort it was also a city and a palace.
There is a limit on how many tickets are sold each day. It is possible to purchase online in advance. We were travelling and had no internet access. We made a phone call and were told no more tickets were available in advance and to take our chances by turning up. We got there early (NB it is cold in the morning!), joined a queue that seemed to go on forever and got in. NB if you have a credit card you can use the automated credit card machine - this queue is the fastest moving!
There are 4 main parts to the Alhambra - Alcazaba, Nasrid Palaces, Partal and Generalife.
Your ticket for Nasrid Palaces will have a specific time printed. Make sure you go for this time - after your allocated time you will be denied access.
One point that needs making is that the Alhambra (including the Generalife, etc) covers quite a large area, and if you want to see it all in the time available you're likely to end up having a less than ideal experience. You may decide to skimp on something, or even miss something out, and you'll almost certainly end up knackered, like I did. (I went in immediately after lunch, and came out at closing time, and I didn't look in Charles's palace.) You may well also suffer from the crowds and/or the heat.
I don't know what advice to give, except to be aware of the problem before you go.
After visiting the Alhambra palaces the final sight on this tour were the beautiful Partial Gardens with lovely ponds, flowers and all kinds of trees and statues. Absolutely beautiful. In these gardens are Christian-Moorish houses, which are also called Partal houses, and the Ladies' Tower (see my photos).
I would have liked to sit down there and breathe in this beauty, but we were rushed through here and at one point the "guide" disappeared and we were running to find her, absolutely intolerable when in such a place of interest and beauty.
There were many people in the garden painting a portrait and relaxing.