Alhambra, the red castle
Alhambra, literally meaning “The Red Castle” is a fort and palace complex. Alhambra is Spain’s most visited monument. Alhambra was built by Moors who came from Africa in the 8th Century and ruled Southern Spain for over 700 years.
In 1984 the Alhambra complex was declared World Heritage sites by UNESCO.
Alhambra - Planning your trip
Book tickets in advance?
It is advisable to book in advance, at least 2 weeks before as only a few are available in the day. If the Alhambra tickets are sold out, you can try to buy other more expensive tickets.
Guided Tour/Audio Guide
No official guided tour or audio-guide.
You have to enter Alhambra during the time slot specified in your ticket.
Best time to visit
Morning slot is the best time to visit Alhambra.
Getting there Minibuses (C3 and C4) from Granada.
Nasrid Palace Complex
A stunning showcase of Moorish architecture, Nasrid palace complex is easily the most wonderful part of Alhambra. The complex consists of three main parts: Mexuar, Serallo, and the Harem. The modest Mexuar houses functional areas. Serallo houses brightly colored and intricately designed Patio de los Arrayanes (Court of the Myrtles). Harem, as can be expected, is elaborately decorated.
Surrounding the palaces are the medieval Persian Generalife gardens, one of the oldest surviving Moorish gardens in Spain.
On The western side of the complex is Alcazaba, or fortress, the oldest part of the Alhambra. It was on the watchtowers of Alcazaba, flag of Ferdinand and Isabella was raised on 2 January 1492, heralding the Spanish conquest of Granada and end of Moorish rule.
You can visit other sections of Alhambra for free including the Palacio de Carlos V, a palace built by emperor Charles V after the Reconquista (Christian reconquest).
Granada beyond Alhambra
Alhambra dominates the landscape of Granada physically as well as figuratively. Most tourists assume Alhambra is the beginning and end of Granada attractions and hence budget for only one day in Granada.
We beg to differ. There are many interesting sights and attractions in Granada besides Alhambra. You can plan to stay for couple of nights in Granada.
Alhambra: Interesting facts and tales
1. The Moors used red tapia bricks for the exterior wall which gives Alhambra its name as well as its distinctive hue.
2. When King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella attacked Alhambra in 1491, Alhambra's last sultan gave up without a fight to avoid the destruction of his beloved Alhambra. When he burst into tears, it is said his mother said: "Do not weep like a woman for what you could not defend like a man."
3. After the exit of Moors, Alhambra became part of Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella. It is said that it was at Alhambra that Christopher Columbus received royal endorsement for his expedition. It was at Alhambra that "The Alhambra Decree" was issued which ordered the expulsion of practicing Jews from the Christian kingdom.
4. Alhambra came close to destruction when Napoleon‘s troops seized the Alhambra. According to a local legend, the invaders wanted to destroy the palace but their efforts were thwarted by a lone soldier who diffused the bomb.
Tales of the Alhambra
Noted American author, Washington Irving along with Alhambra guide , Mateo Ximenes, authored seminal book, "Tales of the Alhambra". The book combines description, myth and narrations of real historical events associated with Alhambra.
It is result of Irving the scholar who poured over dusty archives and also Irving the dreamer who fell for local yarn about ghosts, buried treasure and impossible exploits. The book,"Tales of the Alhambra", is sold at every news stand and souvenir boutique in Granada. Do not miss to read the book.