Alhambra, Granada

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Calle Real s/n 902 441 221

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  • Alhambra
    by Claudiki
  • Front Entrance to the Alhambra
    Front Entrance to the Alhambra
    by TooTallFinn24
  • View From Top of the Watch Tower
    View From Top of the Watch Tower
    by TooTallFinn24
  • leics's Profile Photo

    Alhambra: expect views........

    by leics Written Mar 21, 2014

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    Lenticular cloud over Sierra Nevada
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    Unless you are visiting on a day with bad weather, which would be a great pity but not an impossibility (my first day in Granada was a day of steady rain, low cloud and general haziness) then you should expect stunning views from the Alhambra outcrop.

    From the glimpses of the Sierra Nevada mountains 'behind' you as you walk towards the main sites (I saw my first-ever lenticular cloud from the Alhambra) to the fantastic views form the top of the Torre de la Vela, from the views over Albayzin across to the Medieval city walls hrough the beautifully-shaped windows of the Nasrid palaces to the views *of* the Alhambra from the Gerneralife, you will be spoilt for choice.

    This is yet another reason not to rush your visit. It's not a simple matter of just 'ticking-off the major sights...the whole Alhambra outcrop is stunning, and deserves time to explore.

    Make sure you've got enough memory on your card, and that your camera batteries (one won't be enough!) are fully-charged. :-)

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    Alhambra: 'ordinary' houses

    by leics Updated Mar 16, 2014
    Partal Portico
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    After you have visited the wonderful Nasrid Palaces you'll come out near a smallish building set near a larger one overlooking a pool. This is what remains of the 'partal', thought to be what is left of the very first Nasrid palace on the site and dating from the early 1300s.

    It would be easy to miss these out and not bother, but do make the effort.

    The larger building..the Partal Portico...is the oldest building in the Alhambra palace complex. It dates from the very early 1300s and was still undergoing renovations when I visited. It's beautifully intricate ceiling is well worth looking at....especially if it is still being restored, so you can see the difference pre- and post- restoration.

    The smaller buildings are the 'Houses of the Partal', dating from the 14th century. They are a good example of the 'ordinary' houses lived in by palace retainers. It is not clear whether there are three or four separate houses. All have two floors and none has a courtyard (interesting in itself). What makes them very special indeed is that in one the remains of a mural have been found, depicting three separate scenes....huts, a return with plunder and festivities. Murals like this are massively important in telling us what ordinary people wore, how they behaved, what tools and artefacts they used and so on.

    So...resist the temptation to plough onwards to the Generalife and spend 20 minutes or so just exploring these two structures. Apart from the Alcazaba, they're the oldest on site and they deserve to be looked at.

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    The Nasrid Palaces: look more closely.

    by leics Written Mar 16, 2014
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    I'm not going to give vast amounts of historical detail about the Nasrid palaces. You can find that anywhere.

    And yes, the decoration is both stunningly skillful in its intricacy and absolutely beautiful.

    It's well worth looking a little more closely at the stuccowork in particular. Islam forbids the depiction of humans and much of its wonderful artwork is based on the exquisite calligraphy of Arabic script and on geometric patterning (by the way, 'algebra' is an Arabic word.....did you know?).

    On one wall I found the Arabic for 'Allah' repeated continually, creating a beautifully detailed pattern. Other inscriptions can be found in the stuccowork of other rooms...praise for the buildings and their builders and to various rulers, but mostly phrases from the Koran.

    And there are flowers and plants as well....and it was all beautifully painted, once upon a time.....

    Stay back from the crowd of other visitors and just spend some time looking more closely. It will be worthwhile.

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    Alhambra: Don't miss the Alcazaba....

    by leics Written Mar 16, 2014
    Alcazaba interior
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    I suspect that if you are on a short visit to the Alhambra site it would be very easy to focus you time on the Nasrid palaces (assuming you had a time-slot for visiting) and the Generalife. It would be a great pity to miss out the Alcazaba, or to only take a quick look...not simply for itself but also because it will give you some fantastic views.

    The word 'alcazaba' is used for a Moorish fortification in Spain (and Portugal) and this one is is the oldest part of the Alhambra complex (and now the most ruined), with the original fortress dating back to the 800s. You can't see evidence of that first structure now but the massive stronghold which exists is hugely impressive both in its strength and its domination of the surrounding landscape. It's set at the far end of the Alhambra's outcrop, with superb views for miles and miles across the surrounding landscape (no chance of any attackers creeping up un-noticed).

    You enter through the access point onto the rest of the Alhambra complex (originally separated from the Alcazaba by a gorge, which is now filled in). There are other entrances, although they aren't open for public access, but this was the main one.

    You can't go inside all the structure, but you can walk several sections of the curtain walls. They are rather vertiginous in parts, with low or no barriers on their sheer sides, so do take particular care if you are visiting with children.

    The central part of the Alcazaba functioned as the residence of the men who served as the Sultan's guard, and its interior has the remains of the many, many small buildings which were used as stores, kitchens and houses. There's a bath-house as well, and no doubt a mosque, or its remains, somewhere. Signage isn't particularly good and my guidebook didn't really give me enough detail so identifying the remains isn't very easy.

    At the end of the interior...a 'road' divides the buildings into two distinct areas...lies what is know called the 'Torre de la Vela', named after the large bell which was (until fairly recently, i believe) rung to tell workers in the surrounding fields when to irrigate their crops. Although its exterior has a couple of impressive cracks (perhaps caused by the earthquake damage?) it is well worth the trek up the numerous steps to get yourself to the top. This is the place where the Christians set a vast cross once they had taken the citadel in 1492....and it will provide you with superb views of the city below and the plains further away.

    Don't miss it!

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    Buying Alhambra tickets

    by leics Written Mar 16, 2014
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    It really, really is worthwhile buying these tickets online in advance. At least you will be absolutely certain you can visit on the day you choose, and can get a slot for the Nasrid Palaces (visiting the Alhambra without seeing them would not be in any way the same).

    Of course there are lots of online agencies which offer tickets but I always prefer to use the official website. The official Alhambra site given below has an English version and it's easy enough to find your way to the online booking part.

    Once you've chosen your visit type (there are also e.g. night visits on offer), dates and time-slots you'll get an email with your booking number. It is *essential* that you take the same card with you that you used to book...you'll need it to pick up your ticket once you are in Granada.

    It's best to collect your ticket the day before, to save time and potential queues on the day of your visit.

    The on-site explanation and information about how to collect your tickets isn't terribly clear and there is no extra information given in the email. That's why, or arrival, I went on a 'mystery tour'
    trying to find a Tourist Information office to clarify things.

    However. I've since learned that the 'Caixa' mentioned so often in the 'where to collect tickets' info is simply a bank. You can, I think, use their ATMs to collect your ticket (hence the need for the card).

    I went instead (after my 'mystery tour') to the 'Tienda Libreria de l'Alhambra' (official?) bookshop & Alhambra souvenir shop at Reyes Catolicos 40, a few metres from Plaza Isabella. I'd already walked past it several times...the plate-glass frontage meant I just thought it was a bookshop. But when I went in I spotted a 'pick up your ticket' machine. I just inserted my card and the ticket was printed...very simple and no need to enter booking numbers or anything like that.

    If you do visit Granada in season and don't already have a ticket you must accept the possibility that you may either a) not be able to visit the Nasrid Palaces or b) not be able to visit at all. And that would be very sad indeed.

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    Tips for your visit.......

    by leics Written Mar 16, 2014
    Patio de Los Leones, Nasrid Palaces
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    Of course you will visit the Alhambra and Generalife. But it really is a huge site and you should allow plenty of time to explore...a whole day, if possible. The 'flying visits' lasting 2 or 3 hours offered by organised tours would massively frustrate me and I suspect they massively frustrate others as well, including many of their participants. It's much better to visit independently, so you can explore at your own pace, and very easy to do so.

    I cannot stress enough how popular a site the Alhambra is. In consequence, there are limits both on numbers who can enter each day (several thousands) and those who can see the wonderful Nasrid Palaces (timed entry slots limited to 80 people). Miss your Nasrid Palaces slot and you won't get in.

    So, to make things go more smoothly:

    1. Buy your ticket online in advance....at least several weeks in advance if you have a particular Nasrid Palaces time-slot in mind, and much, much longer if you intend to visit in season. Use the official website (see next tip).

    2. Ordering online means you'll have to collect your ticket in Granada. You don't have to go up to the Alhambra to do this so, unless you are making a daytrip, collect your ticket the day before your visit to save time (and possibly queues) on the day itself.

    3. Take plenty of water, and possibly snacks, with you. Over-priced water is available from vending machines at the main entrance (by the toilets) and there is a small cafe there. There are a few water fountains dotted around the site, a restaurant in the parador, and a couple of small refreshment places near the Alcazaba (but they were busy enough in mid-February so goodness knows what they will be like in season). Additional vendors may appear in high season, I don't know.

    There are toilets at the main entrance and also in the small information office between the Palace of Carlos V and the Alcazaba. There are also toilets marked on the map in the gardens leading to the Generalife entrance but I'm afraid I could not find them.

    4. Expect to walk a long way...it really is a huge site and there is no other alternative if you want to explore it. Wear comfortable footwear and, if visiting in the warmer months, take a hat and wear sunscreen. The site is quite exposed in parts and will get very hot indeed.

    5. Make sure you take batteries, memory card, sunscreen, headache tablets, tissues etc etc with you. There isn't anywhere to buy those things.

    6. Get there as early as you possibly can. Bus 30 runs from 0700 and the site opens at 0830. Being there early not only allows you to explore when temperatures are more pleasant but also means you'll share the site with far fewer people, at least for an hour or two. Book a late morning/early afternoon Nasrid Palaces slot so that you can explore the Generalife afterwards.

    6. On arrival, walk straight through the site, bearing to the left and looking at the archeological excavations, fantastic views and the Moorish baths on the way. Then start by exploring the Alcazaba. It's the oldest part of the Alhambra complex, built on the site of the first fortress (800s). You'll only be able to enter it once and it makes sense to work from the furthest part of the site back towards the entrance rather than the other way round.

    7. After that, visit the palace of Carlos V (there's an interesting exhibition in the lower level) and the Museo de la Alhambra on the lower floor. Allow around an hour for this...none of the exhibitions are very large.

    8. If you've timed things right, you'll now be ready for your Nasrid Palaces slot. If not, maybe there's time for a visit to the Renaissance church of Santa Maria de Alhambra just behind the palace of Carlos V, a sit-down in the sunshine and maybe a spot of lunch.

    9. Although entry to the Nasrid palaces is timed, you can take as long as you wish to explore and enjoy (though you can't retrace your steps). It's a good idea to allow the mass of your fellow entrants to move onwards whilst you linger, so there are fewer of you in any one place at one time...but be aware that the guardians won't let you sit down and wait in most parts.

    10. Once out of the palaces, follow the walls to the left and make your way up to the Generalife. No timed slots here. and beautiful views and gardens to enjoy as well as the remains of what was once a most beautiful building. Allow yourself plenty of time to enjoy everything.

    You won't regret your visit...the Alhambra complex is truly superb and entirely unmissable. I hope this tips will help you make it an even better experience. :-)

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  • Claudiki's Profile Photo

    Travelling back in time to the Moorish Granada

    by Claudiki Updated Aug 5, 2013

    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.

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    Alhambra: Deiciding How and What To See

    by TooTallFinn24 Updated Mar 5, 2013

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    Mosaic in Nasrid Palace
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    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

    Generalife Main Page
    Patio of the Irrigation Ditch
    Carlos or Charles V Palace

    ALCAZABA

    Alcazaba
    Arms Square
    Arms Tower
    Watch Tower

    NASRID PALACES

    Comares Tower
    Court of the Myrtles
    Daraxa's Garden
    Hall of the Ambassadors
    Hall of the Kings
    Hallway With A View
    Mexaur
    Palace and Patio of the Lions

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    Alhambra Watch Tower

    by TooTallFinn24 Written Mar 1, 2013

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    Bell on Top of the Watch Tower
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    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.

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    Don't forget the night sessions!

    by Cocolin Updated Apr 26, 2011

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    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.

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    • Museum Visits

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  • wanderlust23's Profile Photo

    The Alhambra

    by wanderlust23 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Courtyard of the Nasrid Palace

    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

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    Alhambra and Generalife.

    by A2002 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Patio De Los Leones (Lion's Courtyard)

    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!

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  • Danalia's Profile Photo

    The Alhambra

    by Danalia Updated Jan 12, 2011
    The Alhambra
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    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 .

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    The Alhambra

    by Danalia Updated Jan 10, 2011
    The Alhambra  in Granada, Spain
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    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.

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  • Aitana's Profile Photo

    Alhambra

    by Aitana Updated Nov 10, 2010

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    Generalife
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    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.

    http://www.alhambra-patronato.es/index.php
    http://www.alhambra.org/esp/index.asp?secc=/alhambra/informacion/museos

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