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Alhambra, Granada Alhambra
Granada, Andalucia, Spain
The Alhambra is a sprawling palatial citadel overlooking the city of Granada & is considered to be a masterpiece of Moorish architecture. It is the main tourist draw for the city & the most visited historical site in Spain. What makes it so special is that it is the best preserved example of Moorish (Arab) power both on the peninsular & in Europe; making it truly unique.
The Alhambra was constructed under the Nasrid dynasty, ruling in Granada until the 15th century AD. It came about due to the (then new) Muslim states need for a show of power to its enemies, & also to fortify the Moorish kingdom of Al-Andaluz. This Moorish state was established after the collapse of the Caliphate of Cordoba. As the Moors were pushed back into southern Spain their numbers were concentrated in Al-Andaluz, causing cities to grow & a new ruling family (the Nasrid dynasty) to take office; with their capital at Granada. The Alhambra was their flagship fortification; an easily defended military stronghold, the residence of the ruling family, & the royal court.
When the Alhambra was first brought about it was significantly smaller than the structure seen in present times. In fact it was constantly added to & improved by the Moors during the 13th, 14th, & 15th centuries; slowly taking the form of a citadel defended by high ramparts & towers. The original Moorish contributions to the complex can be broken down in to a few main areas (shown below). Please click on the links for more information on individual areas:-
Though Granada was the centre of a strong Moorish state for over three centuries, the kingdom's borders were constantly pushed back by the growing forces of Spain's Christian kings. Eventually just the city of Granada remained, & in 1492 the Moors were expelled from the peninsular completely; thus ending an 800 year long stay of Islamic power in Europe. Along with many other sites the Alhambra suffered at the hands of Granada's new Christian rulers, with much of its beauty & splendor defaced & damaged in the years that followed.
Eventually its worth was recognised by King Charles V (Carlos V) of Spain, & as a statement of Spanish power in the world he built a magnificent palace within the walls of the Alhambra. For more information see the below link:-
The Alhambra is a magnificent human creation & is worth visiting for this alone. But it also paints a picture of life at the palace & at the royal court, while giving an insight into the Moorish culture, their sphere of influence, & some of the techniques & advances that they brought to Europe.
Tickets & Booking
Mosts visitors to the Alhambra purchase their tickets upon arrival. Much is made of the daily limit on visitor numbers (mainly by hotels & ticket agents), but this number is high & should only affect people visiting at the very busiest times.
Unless booking up a guided or educational visit there are three standard tickets available for purchase. They correspond to the time allowed in the Alhambra's central compound & run as follows; morning 10am-2pm, afternoon 2pm-6pm, & (on Fridays & Saturdays) evening visits to the illuminated Palacios Nazaries & the Palacio Carlos V.
It is worth noting that excellent (& good value for money) voice guide headsets are available for hire at the ticket office.
Getting There & Away
The Alhambra is most easily reached on foot, by bus, or by taxi from the Plaza Nueva square. There are a multitude of tourist buses & private taxi's in this area ferrying visitors to & from the Alhambra. All are clearly marked & are usually not expensive. Those feeling energetic can walk rather than ride up the Red Hill to the main entrance; the journey (on foot) taking no more than about 15-20 minutes.
The Alhambra can of course be reached by car, but its most direct approach (the Red Hill) is closed off to the general public; buses & taxi's taking precedence. Though Granada can be a confusing city to drive around, the Alhambra is very well sign-posted, so getting there should not be a problem. For information on car hire (including price quotes & booking) please see our Granada Car Hire document.
Staying at the Alhambra
Due to sheer size alone the Alhambra is able to offer a range of accommodation within & around its walls. Those interested in finding out about/booking a hotel online may do so using the below links.
The Alhambra Palace hotel is located within the walls of the ancient Alhambra citadel, & just 5 minutes walk from the palace itself
The Alixares del Generalife hotel is located within the walls of the ancient Alhambra, & just 250 metres walk from the palace itself
P.N. Granada Hotel SUPER FIRST
The P.N. Granada hotel is located within the walls of the Alhambra citadel, & just a few minutes walk from the palace itself
The Washington Irving hotel is just outside the walls of the Alhambra; it sits atop the hill that approaches the main entrance
The Guadalupe hotel is located on the doorstep of the world famous Alhambra citadel in the charming city of Granada
Granada Tourist Office
Telephone +34 958 225217
Fax +34 958 223174
More Granada links;
Alhambra, Granada Alhambra, Granada, Andalucia, Spain
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