I have been to a lot of places around the globe and it is usually the natural sights like mountains, lakes, beaches, ocean which take my breath away but when it comes to man-made places, not so many. However, when exploring the city of Granada in the south of Spain, I came across the Alhambra which is a huge palace perched on a hill overlooking the city. The palace and grounds here really took my breath away and I was amazed by the architecture.
Here’s the history to give some background on this amazing fortress. Built way back in AD 889 on a site where Roman fortifications once stood, the fortress fell into ruins until it was rebuilt in the middle of the 13th century under the command of the Moorish chief Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar to which the current palace and walls still stand to this very day. Since then it has been converted into a royal palace, then overran by Christians who kicked out the Moorish people and had a bit of a refurbishment on the way, where some of the palace now features some Renaissance style facade and art.
After a while the fortress and palace fell into disrepair again for a few centuries, then some squatters moved in but after the French leader Napoleon came along, had a battle and lost, the locals and the British (who were just passing through) rediscovered the palace and rebuilt it to its former glory. Moving onto the present day, it is now one of Spain’s top attractions to see which shows off a lot of Islamic architecture. The palace and grounds are also on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.
Nasrid Palace – the main part of the fortress (and probably the first part of the fortress which visitors will come across after entry) which was built for the rulers during their dynasty in the 14th century. Walking around here reminded me that I was flung into the middle east and I was engaged with the Arabesque design. All the walls, rooms, courtyards, hallways, they are beautifully decorated but above all, I just loved checking out the ceilings. Also from most of the windows, I managed to get amazing views overlooking the city down below.
The courtyard of Palace of Charles V – this is located on the outside of the palace building and was pretty impressed with the layout and design.
The Partal Palace – this is in another part of the Generalife area of the Alhambra and has many small pools in the garden. This is the perfect place in the summer months to chill out and take in the sun rays or to take a stroll to get away from the urban sprawl of the city of Granada down below.
The Generalife – this was the summer palace for the Nasrid rulers around the 14th century. The highlight has to be the courtyard with the water channel in the middle with flower beds surrounding it. This is the last part of the visit but before leaving, I got to walk through beautiful gardens with lush vegetation. There couldn’t have been a more perfect finish to my visit.
Other parts of the Alhambra I kept coming pass other parts of the palaces and beautiful pools to take a wander around. The only downfall I found coming here was that I couldn’t go into all the rooms to check out the palace and to see if, for example, the bedrooms were more grandeur than other rooms I saw. However, this palace is to be explored for its outdoor parts.
Walking around this stunning fortress on the hilltop in the summer months is purely breathtaking. Sitting on the outside wall of the Generalife, looking out towards the rooftops of Granada down below is one of the top places I have come across in Spain. There is also the nearby mountains which makes the surroundings even more spectacular. If in this region I would totally advise visitors to make a day trip here and explore this beautiful location.
Tips to making a visit to the Alhambra a smooth one
Book tickets online as queues can be long during the months of June to September. Don’t leave it up to the last minute expecting to get tickets, it has been known people have had to book ninety days in advance!
Coming by car, come early as the official parking near the fortress can fill up quite quickly. It’s a bit of a walk up the hill if parking at the bottom.
Allow plenty of time to explore the complex. Make sure you book tickets to see everything then you won’t come away disappointed. I would recommend getting here a few minutes before opening times to have the complex mostly to yourself and get those perfect pictures. (Updated: tickets have a four hour time slot to explore the whole area however check the time on the ticket to which you are allowed in the palaces. Don’t miss this is it is the best part of the visit.
Have good walking shoes as there is plenty of walking to be done (to which there are some uphill paths to overcome). Also have a bottle of water (or two) as Granada is located in one of the hottest parts of Spain during the summer months.
Please note that while I was not working with organisation which runs The Alhambra, my review and experiences written about in this post are 100% genuine. I value my readers too much to lie to you. My blog would be nothing without you and your continued support!