The Alhambra is one of the most visited monuments in Spain. It is probably the main reason why most people visit Granada and it has certainly been on my bucket list for quite while. It is also a UNESCO world heritage site.
So when my son said he would like to visit it I was keen to join him. We had been advised to book tickets online before we flew to Spain to save time. I was surprised how reasonable ticket prices were at between seven and fifteen Euros each. We also booked an English tour and we were very pleased we did. Our guide actually had an M.A. in Islamic studies and was able to translate the classical Arabic inscriptions which decorate the walls. We were given headsets which enabled us to hear her clearly.
If you are visiting the Alhambra you will need to show your passport or identity card. We caught the bus from Malaga which took about two hours and then took a taxi to the Alhambra. I am lucky that my son speaks Spanish and was able to act as our interpreter.
The Alhambra was built between the 11th and 15th century during the Moorish occupation of Spain. The name means the red one and reflects the colour of the local clay. I had not realised quite how big it is. It is a fortress and palace complex covering 35 acres. It was once home to several thousand people including a sizable Jewish population. We did a three hour walking tour and my pedometer recorded almost twenty thousand steps. Yet I still felt I had only seen a small part of it.
The complex evolved organically over time but most of the palaces were built in the 14th century by the Nasrid dynasty. In 1492 the Moslems were defeated by king Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain and the Alhambra fell into disrepair. Now Ferdinand and Isabella are probably best known for backing Columbus’s voyage to America and for historians 1492 marks the end of the middle ages.
Our ticket did not include the Nazerini palaces but did include the Generalife gardens. The Generalife palace was used as a summer palace and the gardens are planted with fragrant roses, oranges and jasmine. Like most Arabic gardens they are filled with pools and gentle fountains. Water was suppled by a five mile conduit from the local river.
The Alhambra is on top of a steep hill and we walked through pine woods to reach the top. Although it is in southern Spain it was quite windy and cold at the top and I wished I had worn a coat.
The site has cafes and souvenir shops and for the less adventurous a car and coach park near the entrance.
This post follows on from Half term in Malaga