Climb the steps to the Torre de la Vela (Watchtower) for some magnificent views of the city and the fertile plain beyond. This is the oldest part of the Alhambra complex, built on the highest point of the hill to defend the royal family and house their army. The original construction had 24 towers altogether but only a few remain. You can still see the military bathhouses, wells, stores and living quarters as well as some attractive gardens of a later date.
Today to visit the Alhambra make sure that you reserve a ticket as I beleive this is now neccesary due to the vast amount of Visitors that turn up daily wanting to see this marvellous piece of Moorish architecture. This is a "Unesco World Heitage site " and to see it is a joy to behold..
THE ALCAZABA : is the Alhambra Fortress this dates back to the eleventh century at a time when the muslims ruled this part of the land for over four centuries .. A walk to the top although tiring is rewarded by the magnificent views.. The views from the top of its towers are spectacular, get some good photo oppportunities here..,also see the:
Palacio Nazaries: This is really a centerpeice of the Alhambra with its wonderful gardens and the coolness of its running water that gives such a calming feeling in such hot weather,,especially here in the Patio de Los Leones..The lions patio..
The oldest part of the Alhambra is the Alcazaba (from al-qasba - Arabic for fortress) was built on the ruins of a 9th century castle. The towers are "Homage", "Broken", "Tower of Arms" and "Watch Tower" and the garden at its south is called "Garden of Wall Tops" or, perhaps more romantically, Garden of Poets. And, speaking of romance... the bell on the Torre de la Vela is rung by those who hope to get the love of their lives.
"Square and crimson towers
Harlequins on stage
Of blue drama whose first performance
Takes places over the green of the leaves.
Alhambra, you who throws them out,
Tighten the bow of the foliage
Against a city of laces
Which is walled by ivy,
Towers of wind and stone
Flying over the landscape!"
This section takes you around the gunnery, the tallest section of the Complex, the Ancient Bell-tower, all offering open and strategic views to defend this fortification.
The views from the top are breathtaking. The Nevadas on one side, the outline of the fort around you, and the town of Granada itself right ahead, including Sacremonte, Albaicin, etc.
The Alcazar are the fortified castle on top of the Alhambra, designed for defence and so less decorated as palaces. It ca n be visited as part of the Alhambra visit and there is a fantastic view of the city from the top tower.
As the time for our tour drew near, we and the other tourists waited in the 'Alcazaba' portion of the Alhambra, with its name derived from the Moorish word for a citadel (al-Quasbah). This plateau above Granada has always been a natural defensive position, with various fortifications having been built there since pre-Roman times. This latest version was built by the Moorish Nasrid rulers in about 1232 as the anchor for the remainder of their amazing structures of the Alhambra - and it did its job for 260 years until the end of Moorish rule in Spain in 1492 (the same year Columbus 'discovered' America). This view of the Torre de la Vela, as seen from our hostal, is a constant reminder to Granada visitors that the Alhambra looms above the city.
Our tight morning schedule did not allow us the time to really have a good look at the somewhat down-trodden walls of the Alcazaba or climb its towers, but even standing in its lower levels we had great views out over Granada from this commanding position. The second photo looks down on the old Moorish quarter of the city known as the Albaicin (and its eastern defensive wall snaking across the hillside), an area of the city we explored on foot later in the day. Separate tours of this part of the Alhambra are available but we were just waiting for the doors to the Casas Reales to open for our official tour to start.
The dominating feature in the Alcazaba is the Torre de las Armas (Tower of Arms). You can take some stairs and climb to the top for a look out over Granada or look back into the Alcazaba and you see Arms Square where the living quarters for the soldiers were located. There is not much left of this part today as you can see. What is different here is the differences in the building styles. If you take a look at each photo showing parts of this area, it seems as if they are NOT from the same building or even period. Also in the Tower you can take some steep steps down into the dungeon where they have a small display of torture instruments, it is not very good, but if it is a hot day, the dungeon is actually cooler.
This is the military and fortified area of the entire complex, this is where the soldiers made sure the bigwigs were safe. It is also the area where we found the dungeon and the torture instruments, the battlements and the living quarters for soldiers. This is also where you will find the tallest towers around the battlements, the Torre Quebrada (the Broken Tower), why it is called "broken", the Torre del Homenaje (the Tower of Homage) where the first Nasirid emirs had their apartments and the Torre de las Armas (the Tower of Arms).
This military fortress was built by Alhamar, the first nazarí king on the oldest site of the Alhambra and served a purely military purpose as it was situated on the highest part of the hill, watching over the surrounding area.
La Alcazaba es la zona militar del recinto, y en ella pueden visitarse la terraza de la torre del Cubo, el adarve de la muralla norte, la Plaza de las Armas, con el Barrio Castrense, la terraza de la Puerta de las Armas, la torre de la Vela y el jardín de los Adarves.
This can be found within the Alcazaba which was the military Citadel.
What you can see in the photo are the foundations of a bath house and the soldiers houses. There are also water cisterns and even a dungeon beneath the Eastern wall.
You will probably enter the Alhambra through the Puerta de la Justicia ( main gate). A short uphill stroll from here is the Puerto del Vino and then you're on the Plaza de Los Aljibes with the Alcazaba on one side and the Palace of Carlos V on the other. As you can only enter the Nasrid Palaces at the time stated on your ticket, chances are you will have some time on your hands and a perfect opportunity to spend time in the Alcazaba. This earliest part of the complex is obviously defensive and is basically a plain and sturdy fortress.You can walk around freely inside, admiring the towers and ramparts as you make your way up towards Torre de la Vela at the very top. This climb will reward you with a panoramic vista over the countryside. The central area of the Alcazaba is the site of the original barracks and small boundry walls indicate the remains of the different rooms, baths and even the dungeon. This building is not in any way spectacular but it's not so crowded and feels much more relaxed than other parts of the Alhambra. It's quite a good way to warm up for the rest of the experience.
After visiting the gardens and palace at Generalife, we headed over to the other part of the Alhambra where you will find the rest of the sights you'll want to visit-the Palacio de Carlos V, the Nasrid Palace and the Alcazaba.
The ticket to the Alhambra has three tear off tickets, one for Generalife, one for the Nasrid Palace and one for the Alcazaba, the fortress built in the 9th century. You'll want to climb the Torre de la Vela (watchtower) for the spectacular view of the town below and the snow capped Sierra Nevada Mountains in the distance as well as Generalife.
The lion's court yard (Patio de los Leones) is a masterpiece of moorish style of architecture. Lion's court yard is the former center of sultan's rooms of rest. It is decorated with 124 columns similar to palm trees. Twelve lions symbolize signs on the Zodiac.
It causes admiration of the cosiness and a graceful ornament. The fountain with lions certainly appeared later. The interdiction of islam on the image of people and animals is known. Therefore mixture of styles certainly takes place.
Mexuar Hall of the Palace has been intended for the decision of legal issues. With arrival of Christians this room has undergone to especially serious changes. Per 1629 this hall was transformed into a chapel.
The Citadel (Alcazaba) is the unique construction of military purpose in the whole ensemble. It is dated XIII century. There was soldier's barracks earlier from which almost nothing was kept till now.