The Alhambra is the last and most elaborate palace of the Moorish Kingdom in Spain. More fittingly, the Alhambra is a compound consisting of several beautiful palaces and gardens. After the Moors were conquered, the Catholics moved in, and like all good conquerors redesigned and added on to the existing structures. Unlike many of the mosques and castles throughout the realm, however, that were demolished, the Alhambra was seen to be too beautiful to destroy.
We bought tickets to the Alhambra two months in advance of our trip to Granada, and already did not have our choice of time slots, if that says anything about the popularity of this attraction. I was left guessing whether or not we gamble with a late morning entrance time, or mid-afternoon, maybe fresh from a rest?
Tickets to the Alhambra gain you entrance to the compound for either the morning or the afternoon, with everyone clearing out in between. Within either the morning or afternoon, your ticket also gives you the thirty minute window you have to enter the Palacios Nazaries, or Moorish royal palace. Other than the Palacios Nazaries, you are free to wander around and explore the other attractions at your leisure.
The afternoon session opens at 2:00p.m., and we had tickets stamped to enter the Palacios thirty minutes after that. With the Alhambra, it pays to do your research and follow the rules, as many people were sent to the back of the line for not first stowing their stroller, etc. For once, I felt fairly prepared. We did not opt in for the audio tour, but tried to follow Rick Steves’ walking tour as we wandered through what he says are three main sections: royal offices, ceremonial rooms, and private quarters.
The rooms are all empty but are decked out in magnificent carved wood, plastered walls, elaborate windows, fountains and fountains and fountains. Few surfaces are unadorned, and all call for you to reach out and touch. Fortunately, there were “touch me” panels throughout where the kids could rub all over reproduction examples of walls and ceilings.
The Palacios Nazaries are so splendid that the conquering king maintained them as his private residence. However, Charles V did build a palace next door for official functions. Built in the Renaissance style, it is a huge contrast to the Moorish design, though impressive in scale. We didn’t stay long, though did test out the amazing acoustics in the dome-less center of the palace. We have quite the little singers!
We also explored the Alcazaba, or fort, that was the original Alhambra. Much of it is now in ruins, but it was fun to explore and offered some in our party a nice climb for amazing city views. With the high Spanish sun, we were all pretty tuckered out and quickly retreated for some shade and ice cream.
After quickly refueling, we started to walk towards the Generalife Gardens, which was the sultan’s fruit and vegetable gardens. Here there is also a small summer palace, though we did not make it that far. The sun was just too much on all of us, and after three or so hours of serious site-seeing, we decided to start making the trek back. First, however, Dennis did make sure that I got to take a look at the beautiful gardens.
The Alhambra truly lives up to its reputation as a must-see site, and surely could occupy you for multiple visits. I, for one, left in awe of the complexities of the Moorish design and décor, as well as wondering what lay just ahead of us on those garden paths. We were so happy to have Grandma Harbin and Mr. Barry along with us to make these memories! I did realize though, with the extra photographers in our group, I don’t have any many pictures on my camera. Below is a sample from our trip!