The Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín in Granada are exceptional reminders of Moorish Spain. In the 8th century the Islamic Moors of Northern Africa had conquered most of the Iberian Peninsula. Several centuries of struggle between Moors and Christians (striving for the Reconquista) followed. The Nasrid dynasty was the last Muslim dynasty in Spain, before all were finally expelled in 1492.
The Alhambra ("the red fortress") is a palace and fortress complex built by the Moorish monarchs of Granada. Its existence was first mentioned in the 9th century. During the reign of the Nasrid Dynasty, the Alhambra was transformed into a palatine city complete with an irrigation system for the lush and beautiful gardens of the Generalife located outside the fortress.
The Palacio de Generalife, to the east of the Alhambra, was the summer palace and country estate. It was built during the early 14th century by the Nasrid sultans.
The Albayzin is an old residential neighborhood in Granada, opposite from the Alhambra. It has both Moorish and Andalusian influences. The Albayzin was a later (1994) addition to this World Heritage Site.
Visit July 1991, March 2008
This must be one of the most popular WHS in Europe. Even on an early Monday morning in March there were long lines of visitors when I arrived at 8.30. I had to queue with about 300 other people that had been so foolish not to pre-book a ticket. Announcements told us that only 150 tickets were left for the morning, and 750 for the afternoon. When I finally, at 10.10, got my ticket it was for an afternoon visit and with a 16.00-16.30 time-slot to enter the Palaces of the Nazarenes.
In hindsight, I was quite happy starting my visit in the afternoon. The sun had warmed up the earth and I could walk around in a short-sleeve shirt and sit outside. The Alhambra complex (castle, palaces) and the Generalife occupy a large area. I had been here before (1991), but I do not remember a thing about that visit. This time I started my tour at the gardens of the Generalife, with its Mediterranean plants and trees and pools.
At the entrance gates for the Nazarene Palaces we had to queue again, and I found myself just behind the same Austrian couple as this morning when we were buying our tickets. Getting inside is pretty organized though: they let in small groups about every five minutes, so it doesn´t feel too crowded. In about every room there are elaborate carvings and mosaics to be admired. Unfortunately, the Court of the Lions is under construction at the moment and its celebrated Fountain of Lions has been taken away for restoration.
After the palaces I strolled around the Alhambra complex once more, visiting the Alcazaba, enjoying the sun and finally walking back to Granada´s city center for dinner in the Albayzin quarter.
More photos can be found in the Picture Gallery
|Tony H. (Finland):|
I think that everything is said about this site. You should definitely book tickets to Alhambra in advance. When I visited this site in June it was +36 Celsius and people waiting in a long queue. Not nice. I took my booked tickets easily from ticket machines. Area was beautiful and views to the city were amazing. Sad thing was that the Court of the Lions was still in construction. Good thing was that there were many drinking fountains in the area. And the area of Albayzin is definetely worth of visit.
| Date posted: July 2010|
|John Booth (New Zealand):|
Having visited the Alhambra and the Genaralife previously (50 years earlier), this time I spent more time in the Albayzin. I took one of the little buses (#31 & 34) that wind through the narrow streets from the Plaza Nuevo take you to delightful little squares and streets beside the Darro river. Stopped in the Plaza San Nicolas for al freso lunch while listeneng to a live concert and overlooking the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada.
Visiting in early June I was fortunate to get access to the Palacios Nazarias within two hours of buying my Alhambra ticket at 08.30, so had the rest of the day to wander through the gardens afterwards.
| Date posted: March 2010|
|stewart ayu (canada):|
This is my fourth visit to the Alhambra complex and it remains magnificent and timeless. The gardens in combination with the chambers and courts invite spiritual awareness. The Albaycin is a pleasant reminder of the Moors and the views from there of the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada behind are stunning. Of historical significance included Ferdinand and Isabel's defeat of the Moorish King , Boabdil , completing a big chapter in history.
| Date posted: March 2009|
|Adrian Lakomy (Slovakia):|
Site consists from there different places.
Albayzin is a white painted jewish quarter on a steep hill. I really enjoyed walking through those narrow streets and at the end to enjoy the best view on Alhambra from San Nicolas.
Generalife are beautiful gardens on the main castle hill representing eden with a lot of flowers and waster. I enjoyed a small nap on a bench and after waking up I really felt like in eden :)
Alhambra itself is complex of military (Alcazaba) and secular palaces. Most important for visit is Nasrid Palaces with its Mudejar architecture. It has very similar decorations as Alcazar in Seville but somehow nicer.
To get inside is quite a problem as tickets are very difficult to get in summer season. Please book with advance via http://www.servicaixa.com or you will be frustrated.
The town of Granada I didn't like very much. It was just an ordinary Andalusian town. I recommend to visit Capilla Real where spanish rulers Isabela and Ferdinand are buried.
Pic: Alhambra from San Nicolas with Sierra Nevada in back
Gorgeous, absolutely fantastic and I recommend everyone should visit at least once in their life.
The easiest way to get there is to catch the shuttle bus from Plaza Nueva up the hill - then walk back down at the end of the day.
Can't wait to go back again.
| Date posted: February 2006|
|A. O`Riordan (US):|
Absolutely breath taking, the building itself is dreamlike and condusive to fantasies and daydreams. It would be a fantastic place to go with a loved one because of its romantic nature. The garden is amazing, especially when I went as most the flowers were in bloom (It was about June if I recall correctly). Nearby, you there are shops and artist studios where you can learn how the beautiful inlays that are typical of Moorish architecture are made, making you appreciate the beauty all the more.
| Date posted: July 2005|
|Klaus Freisinger (Austria):|
The Alhambra of Granada is a true work of art and reminiscent of a time in history few people know about - when Arabs ruled much of Europe. I have been there twice, and while my first visit in 1996 was just a quick day trip from the Costa del Sol, in 2012 I made sure to invest some time and effort to really see it all. The main palace is a breathtakingly beautiful place, and the Generalife Gardens and the Alcazaba Fortress are very impressive as well. You can easily spend a whole day in the complex, but after a while it will get exhausting. As mentioned elsewhere, advance reservations are highly recommended. The rest of Granada is quite interesting as well, including the Albayzín quarter with the Arab baths and the stunning San Nicolás viewpoint overlooking the Alhambra, and the Sacromonte district with its cave dwellings. The city centre features a very large Renaissance cathedral and the adjoining chapel containing the tombs of King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabel of Castile, whose marriage in 1469 paved the way for the ouster of the Arabs from Europe, a united Spain, and the conquest of the New World.
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