The Alhambra of Granada

THE ALHAMBRA

Visit the Alhambra, immerse yourself in history

The Alhambra, that red palace that crowns the city of Granada, consists of several sections that together create an architectural complex with great beauty and historical value.

The Alcazaba

Built by Sawwar ben Hamdun during times of conflict between Arabs and Muladis. It is the military fort and the oldest part of the complex. It is one of the parts of the citadel that has undergone the most changes over time. It started being used as a royal residence during the reign of Mohamed II and later became a military fortification.

Its most famous tower, “Torre de la Vela” was constructed between 1237 and 1273. It is the biggest tower, square in form and consisting of four floors. It rises more than 28 meters above the ground and is 16 meters wide. Its main purpose is surveillance. The several restorations that have been carried out on it have shown the modifications made over the centuries, as seen by its bricks.

During the fifteenth century, it was reinforced with an artillery fortification and a gate was added in the northwest corner, called “the Tahona gate”.

The moat, built in the initial phase of its construction, was filled in the Christian era in order to build the cisterns that currently surround the Alcazaba, hence its current name, the Plaza de los Aljibes (meaning “Water tanks Square”).

With the Christian conquest, a bell was placed on top of one of its towers to warn in case of any military invasion. It has been replaced several times since then. The purpose of its ringing has also changed: initially it was used to establish the irrigation shifts of the farmers, then as an alert in case of danger, and later it was used in the case of fire or the death of a member of the royal family. Currently, in part to keep the tradition alive that says whoever rings the bell will get hitched that same year, the tower can be accessed on January 2nd for free.

The Medina

Medina is an Arabic word that means city. This city was populated by those who were responsible for meeting the needs of the inhabitants of the palaces. The houses were distributed along “Real Alta” Street, which began at the “Puerta del Vino” (Wine Gate) and reached the “Torre del Agua” (Water Tower). The houses of the most important people in the Medina were built near the Puerta del Vino. There was also an area with buildings such as water cisterns, a madrasa (university) and a mosque that were for public use. Parallel to the Real Alta Street ran the Acequia Real, responsible for bringing the water to the Alhambra. In the upper part we find handicraft constructions such as a glass or ceramic oven.

Nasrid Palaces

In its early years, six palaces formed the the Nasrid Palaces complex, but sadly nowadays we can only enjoy three: the Mexuar, the Palace of Comares and the Palace of the Lions.

The Mexuar

This is the palatine space in which the monarch held court. At its entrance we read the following sentence: “Enter and ask. Do not be afraid to ask for justice, you will find it.”

Despite its relevance and beauty, it cannot be known for certain if this is an original part of the structure, as this is one of the spaces that has been modified on more than one occasion, both in its interior and exterior.

Palacio de Comares

Its name comes from the stained glass windows that decorated the balconies, and could be seen from the Paseo de los Tristes. Those were removed in the seventeenth century due to their poor condition. It is the largest Nasrid tower in the Alhambra at 45 meters high. It is formed by several chambers arranged around the Patio de los Arrayanes, whose exquisite decoration gives us an idea of ​​the relevance that this space had in the Nasrid culture. Inside the patio, we must point out the garden and the pool, as the water acts as a mirror reflecting the buildings that surround it.

Palacio de los Leones (Palace of the Lions)

The center of this space is known as Patio de los Leones, and its fountain is what gives the palace and the buildings that surround it their name. Water is a fundamental element of this group, perhaps the most famous in the palaces and a visit here is essential. This Palace is formed in turn by the Mocárabes room, the Abencerrajes room, the Reyes room and the Dos Hermanas room.

Generalife

Declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1984. Located outside the palace walls, it is one of the most captivating sections of the Alhambra and the most visited by tourists. In medieval times, it consisted of four orchards and was called by the vizier Ibn al-Yayyab the Royal House of Happiness. It is a rural villa composed of several gardens, orchards and buildings. It was built between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries and used as a resting place.

Carlos V Palace

A palace built in the Mannerist-style and designed by Pedro Machuca under the orders of Emperor Carlos V. When he married Isabel of Portugal, the emperor established his residence there, after being very impressed by his visit to the Nasrid Palaces. Although it’s believed that its construction meant the destruction of certain sections of the Alhambra, it also meant the conservation of the rest, something not very common with other monuments of the time.

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Alhambra tickets with guided tour

We offer group visits with expert guides who will share all their knowledge of this architectural jewel.

Alhambra ticket with a private guide

Visit the monument with a guide exclusively dedicated to you and yours.
A private visit designed for you to fully enjoy the monument.

And after the Alhambra, Granada

After visiting this spectacular monument, you cannot ignore the beautiful city where you are staying.
Get to know Granada with us.

Where do we find the Alhambra? A prime location

The wonderful monument of the Alhambra is almost matched in beauty by the incredible location they chose to build it. The red palace is found at the top of a rocky hill nestled in a forest that is difficult to access, and surrounded by the river Daro.

Next to the neighborhood of Realejo and facing the historical neighborhood of the Albaicin, the Alhambra rises solemnly from a majestic forest like an image from a dream. It can be photographed from places like the lookout of San Nicolas or Paseo de los Tristes. Sunset is one of the best times of day for this, because of the blending of colors so beautiful that few can resist immortalising the moment.

How to get to the Alhambra? All the tips

Getting to the Alhambra by foot

If you have time and are up for it, you can choose to walk up to the monument. It’s an upward hike, but its beauty makes it well worth the effort.

The journey of about 15 minutes starts in Plaza Nueva and from there you walk up Cuesta Gomerez, a very beautiful Granadan street with many shops selling local crafts. At the end of the slope you’ll find the Puerta de las Granada, from here you can access the forest that surrounds the Alhambra. If you continue your ascent you’ll reach the Tomato Fountain, with a monument dedicated to Angel Ganivet. To get to the ticket office, you must continue along the Paseo del Generalife. We highly recommend this route that brings you to the pavilion where you can buy Alhambra tickets.

Getting to the Alhambra by car

If you prefer driving, it’s a simple route to the top.

If you’re starting from the centre you can take calle Molinos and drive up by way of cuesta del Caldero. 

If you’re a little further out of town however, taking the highway is the fastest option as the car parks are found close to the A-395 exit.

Getting to the Alhambra by bus

A very recommended option for reaching the Alhambra and the ticket office is to take the bus. There are several bus stops in the city centre, such as by Plaza Isabel la Catolica or Plaza Nueva, where you can take buses C30, C32 and C35. They run every 6 minutes, and take about 13 minutes to arrive at the gates.

5 tips for visiting the Alhambra

Get your tickets ahead of time.

It’s one of the most visited monuments in Spain, so if you want to visit the red city you must book your tickets in advance. Schedule your visit and choose if you want to go with a guided group or if you prefer a private tour.

Choose a guided visit or a private tour.

Both options are excellent to get to know the Alhambra in depth.The guided group visits allow you to know all the ins and outs of the spaces through detailed explanations. The private tour will focus on the parts you and your travel companions are most interested in.

Pay attention to the weather

Due to the new vegetation that surrounds the area, it’s usually quite cold in winter. In Granada temperatures usually dip because of its proximity to the Sierra Nevada, and it’s colder up in the Alhambra than down in the city because of its surrounding forest. It’s advisable to wear warm clothes.   

If you’re visiting in the summer it’s advisable to bring a hat and sunscreen, because there are areas where shade is scarce.

Wear comfortable shoes.

The visit can last more than four hours, so in order to enjoy the space and avoid being fatigued wear comfortable shoes that allow you to stand and walk around the premises.

Enjoy and soak up the History.

Let yourself be seduced by the most emblematic and majestic Arab monument in our country. Stroll through the Nasrid Palaces and breathe in the aromas of the flowers in the gardens of Generalife. Awaken the senses and relive the times that created the Alhambra.