The main reason why we wanted to go to Granada was of course to visit the Alhambra. Although it is a very touristy site, we had to go. We booked our tickets two months in advance and just needed to make sure we were in Granada that day. Google Maps took us on a route through winding alleys and peoples back yards to get to the Alhambra. Once we got there, it was like sensory overload for me.
I love architecture, as I have probably mentioned multiple times. When I get to a place in the world, the first thing I notice is the architecture. Is it old or new? What style is it? Does it fit with how I imagined the buildings would look here? So once we got past the fortress walls of the Alhambra, I almost didn’t know where to look.
It is made up of primarily four different areas; the Alcazaba, the Nasrid Palace, El Partal, and Generalife gardens. To visit the Nasrid Palace, you need to schedule a time to go in, so we went there first.
The Nasrid Palace
Math nerds would love this place, there was geometric symmetry everywhere from Fibonacci’s sequence to his rule of thirds that made this building a wonder. Everything was designed with a purpose and looked amazing no matter what time of day it was. I really liked the Patio of the Lions because the way the light hit that whole area created a beautiful contrast of shadows. Although the Patio of the Lions is the main attraction within the Nasrid Palace walls. my favourite area was the Hall of the Abencerrajes.
The Hall of the Abencerrajes
This now beautiful room actually has quite a sinister legend attached to it. It is believed that it is the place where about 30 knights from the family named Abencerrajes were beheaded in an act of jealousy. Much like my story about the Lion statue in my Morocco photo gallery, who knows how much truth this legend holds. I became enamoured with this room. The monotone colour scheme. The intricate details carved into the plaster walls. The ceiling! The perfect symmetry of that ceiling!! The way the natural light lit up that room as well was so serene, it’s hard to imagine people being murdered in that room.
The Alcazaba the Arms Square
The next area we toured was the Alcazaba, which is a fortified citadel that was built to protect the areas of Centro (originally name Iliberri, the original Capital of the area), Realejo, and Albyzin. It is the oldest part of the Alhambra, which dates back to as early as the 9th century. The current structure is said to be built in the mid 13th-century by Mohammad I. To be honest, since we went to the Alcazaba in Malaga, the structure was similar enough that we didn’t spend much time there. We did, however, get beautiful views of the Old City from the Torre de la Vela.
Torre de la Vela
The featured image for this post is of the Torre de la Vela aka the Watch Tower. In the past, the bell was used to notify the farmers who resided in the Vega of the time to water the crops during the evening. It was also used to warn the people of Granada in case of an attack and to call them to their posts to prepare defences. It is believed now that any single women who ring the bell on the 2nd of January will get married by the end of the year.
From the Watch Tower, you can also spot an old medina area where there were still remnants of what used to be homes and shops, also known as the Arms Square. Now lays the foundation walls, memories of the inhabitants who used to live and work in the military.
I thought we completely missed the El Partal area, but apparently, we didn’t completely.
Palacio de Carlos V
When you plan your visit to the Alhambra, expect loads of other visitors eagerly looking to see the grounds as well. Sometimes, due to my anxiety, I get a little too nervous in crowds. Because of this, we ended up not going inside this palace but the architecture from the outside was still worth a look.
The Ladies Tower and the Garden of the Partal
On the way towards Generalife, we passed the Garden of the Partal which spanned the whole area in front of the Ladies Tower. Numerous teal ponds can be seen in this quarter. This became my favourite area because I really like seeing the perfect reflections in the still water.
The multiple buildings and towers in this surrounding area were the homes of only the elite back in the day. They were a combination of the Royals and the richest business folk that would reside here. It was easily my favourite area of the whole Alhambra due to its tranquillity with the ponds and surrounding gardens.
I love gardens and Generalife did not disappoint. There were a series of different routes and pathways to explore, paved with cobblestone and fountains. Generalife was created as a place to take part in leisurely activities and entertain guests. It created the perfect romantic background of any scene with the tall Cyprus walls, the full orange orchards, and the lush rose bushes.
I think we spent the most time here and honestly just got lost. We wandered around the grounds until we grew too tired and headed home.
I’m not typically interested in visiting places that are extremely touristy like the Alhambra, but I don’t regret for a minute taking the opportunity to explore this piece of history. You need to be patient if you want to take photos. Just relax and soak up the magnificence of the structures and gardens.
A lot of the information and facts are from my memory or from the official Alhambra website, alhambradegranada.org. This also the website that we used to purchase our tickets. Have you visited the Alhambra? What did you think of it?
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