Alhambra - Alcazar, Granada
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 Alcazar was the first large fortress (11C and earlier) on the western tip of the plateau. Enclosed in its remaining walls and towers are the later time excavations of old buildings and baths which were under a parade ground (Plaza de Armas). The westernmost and tallest tower (la Vela) can be ascended. It rewards with views of Central Granada and in the opposite direction the Plaza area, the eastern towers and the Palace of Carlos V( 2). On the upper level of the tower is a signal bell and its housing (1). The complex is approached from the Patio de los Aljibes (3) which is next to the Puerta del Vino which has fine tilework surrounding its arch (4,5). Our advanced age and the time constraints of our day trip did not permit us to explore the Alcazar, but we had done so in a leisurely manner 20 years previous.(1,2)
Granada's 'Gate of Justice' is one of the main entrances/exits you take to get through the Alhambra walls. It is also the biggest gate, very imposing in its typical red stone. It leads you to the area in front of the Alcazar castle.
I had to look very closely to spot a hand carved above the large arch and a key above the smaller arch. These are actually Islamic symbols, but the rumour was that the Alhambra would only be captured when the hand reached down to grab the key.
Well, belive it or not that must have been what happened, because Granada was captured by Spain's Catholic monarchs in 1492!!
Prominent atop the hill which also contains the Alhambra, the Alcazaba was built as the fortress to protect the Nasrid kings. A garrison of soldiers lived and worked within its walls. It consists of several towers and connecting ramparts and the remains of the lower portions of bulidings in the interior that housed the soldiers and their operations. The tower with the flags is the Torre de la Vela or Watch Tower. A small spiral staircase takes visitors to the top and also features a large bell which is rung on certain festive occassions.
The Alcazaba (also known as the red fort, due to the color of the rock that makes up its walls) is the oldest part of the Alhambra. This site is at the highest point of the hill and it is thought that this area's history goes back the furthest due to its strategic location. 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].
The Alcazaba was designed to be a separate, self-contained town and defensive position. Not only was it the military fortress, but it also housed the elite guard and internal security which protected the Sultan and his family.
At one time this tower defended a town of over 2,000 moors living within the Alhambra’s wall. It 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. You can explore a number of different areas, but perhaps the highlight is climbing the dark, spiral staircase up to the top of the watchtower for a magnificent 360-degree view of Granada far below. 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.
In 1492 when the 700 year long battle (Reconquista) was completed under the flags of Aragon and Castle, the fleeing Moorish King Boabil wept and was chastised by his mother for weeping like women when he couldn’t defend Granada like a man. Castile and Aragon were united by marriage in 1469, but technically they remained separate administrative units while Ferdinand and Isabella were alive.
The best reason to go into the Alcazar is to climb the Tower as it gives very good views, and aslo gives you a better idea of the site of this Castle. There are normally around three flags flying on top of the Tower. From memory they are the Spanish flag, the Andalusian Flag and the flag for Granada.
This picture shows the view from the top of the tower. There are also very good views across into Granada Town too. although these are not shown here.
When you enter the Alhambra, your ticket will take you into to thre separate parts of the Alhambra. The Palace area is the bit everybody wants to see. The Generalife gardens are also very impressive. That leaves the Alcazar (meaning Castle in Spanish). This Alcazar is ruined, and is not really that exciting. Indeed a lot of guidebooks don't even seem to cover it. There seem to be a lot of foundations and a big tower that has seen better days. The attached picture shows this area for completeness sake.
This is the tallest tower in the Alcazaba.To go up,you must to use a interior narrow stairs and it is always crowded of tourists.From here you can see some awesome views of the city and also of Sierra Nevada.
The Alcazaba - a fortified stronghold guarding royal quarters built around two exquisite courtyards. This impressive military fortification goes back to 9th century, and was modified by Muhammad III in 13th century to be his private residence. There are various towers, some with elaborate interiors. From the tower, Torre de la Vela, there is a great view over the town.
Although in ruins today, this fort once offered protection for the thousands of moors that lived within it's walls.
There are wonderful views out to the city of Granada, the Albaycin area and the Sierra Nevada mountains from the Alcazar.
I would recommend spending an hour or so walking around this area - it's steep in some sections but well worth the calories spent!
For more pictures, see my travelogue.
Normally we all leave till the end, and compared to the palaces that we have already seen, it is not as exciting, but it had its importance for the castle as it was the military area.
Some fo the palces to visit are:
Torre del Cubo
Plaza de Armas
Torre de la Vela
Y el Jardín de los Adarves
The views from the towers are incredible, check tourist traps
If you have time you can still walk along the shops and the gardens before heading to Granada city center
The Alcazaba, or fortress, is the oldest part of the Alhambra. The Sultan Alhamar, the founder of the Nasrid dynasty, built it in the mid-13th century after he fled from northern Andalucia and established what was to be the last Moorish stronghold against the Christian crusaders. No doubt a fort was located at this location through much of historic time but the current buildings date back to the 1200's AD. The fort was remodeled by the Moors who added a very long outer wall in which they build the Nasrid Palaces.
The Torre del Homenaje (shown in the picture) was the keep of the Alcazaba and in it the first Nasirid emirs had their apartments. Excavations within the Alcazaba have revealed traces of barracks and a large cistern that date from this early period.