Alhambra and Generalife, Granada
The Alhambra, a palace, a fortress, an architectural masterpiece. The Alhambra, in Granada, Andalucia, Spain, is truly a sight to behold, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a wonder of the world. What makes the Alhambra so special…? Everything. Every single glorious detail of the Moorish palace and the gardens are spectacular. If you haven’t heard of or been to the Alhambra before, put it right up there on your travel bucket list as a ‘must see’.
Originally beginning as a small fortress in AD 889, the Alhambra steadily evolved over time. The construction of the Palacio Nazaries started in 1333, then came the Palacio de Comares followed by the Patio de Los Leones, a patio which was designed as a vision of paradise…boy does it deliver! Such an incredible Islamic construction. The Christians later added the Palacio de Carlos V and eventually by 1829 the Alhambra had been almost abandoned to fall into disrepair, the once magnificent salons had become dungheaps and taverns with many beggars. The French also briefly ruled and blew up part of the Alhambra! If you read ‘Tales from the Alhambra” you can gain an insight into the state of disrepair that Washington Irving found the Alhambra; he describes how he would explore the neglected rooms and courtyards. Now restored and protected the Alhambra became a World Heritage Site in 1984.
Hugely popular today. up to 6600 tickets are sold each day (mostly on-line in advance) with only a third available on the day, which people camp out for! On one occasion we tried arriving with family at 8am and joined the queue. Tickets for the Palace and gardens soon sold out to the early birds (who had been queuing from 2am) leaving only tickets left for the gardens only. If you want to see the whole of the Alhambra you MUST book tickets in advance, to enable you to tour the Palace and the Generalife gardens (Children under 12 enter free). If you do not have a ticket, some general areas of the Alhambra can be accessed for free if you enter through the Puerta de Justica. As you wander around the palace looking up at the guilded ceilings, geometric designs, stalactites and star shaped skylights, marvel at this place of reflection, one of Spain’s highlights and subject of many tales and legends.
Before leaving Granada, you must admire the Alhambra from Granada’s Albycyn district. Follow the signs into the Albycyn district until you find the plaza of St. Nicolas. This has to be one of the best views of architecture poised in nature you will ever see. Wow! A sunset here is considered one of the best in the world (Bill Clinton said so!) The Alhambra lies on top of a hillside with the snow capped Sierra Nevada mountains as a background, Stunning!