The Alhambra palace-fortress, dominating the Granada skyline from its hilltop perch, and the fascinating Albayzin, Granada's old Islamic quarter, also rising above the modern city, are highlights of a visit to Spain. Mind you, but for a French Napoleonic officer who disobeyed an order to destroy the building when the French left Granada we would only have ruins to admire today.
The palace is the true gem and is the most impressive Muslim building in Europe, with its perfectly proportioned rooms and courtyards, intracately mouled stucco walls, beautiful tiling, finely carved celings with geometric patterns. Arab inscriptions proliferate in the stucco work.
But there are more than monuments to this city: Granada boasts buzzing nightlife and excellent bars. Its setting, with the often snow-clad Sierra Nevada as backdrop, is magnificent, and its greenness a delight in often parched Andalucia.
9 Jun 2007 - Granada, SpainAlthough Granada has numerous points of interest, the purpose of my visit was to view the UNESCO world heritage site of The Alhambra which in itself takes the best part of a day to see. Some areas cannot be accessed without a ticket and only a limited number of these are available every day. In high season, either get there early or try pre-booking via the Alhambra website.
Granada - Alhambra, bath house sky lights
Upon entering the grounds you there is a choice to be made between entering the impressive gardens known as the generalife or the walled off Alhambra complex. After the crossing the bridge to the Alhambra there is a several hundred meter walk through yet more impressive gardens before encountering the area containing the main buildings.
The bathhouse is near where the mosque used to be and the roof has these attractive skylights.
Granada - Alhambra, intricate doorway carvings
I thought that these carvings were impressive but this was before I had entered the actual palace. This stucture is opposite the bath house so for the visitor it only acts as an introduction to the splendours to be seen later.
Granada - Alhambra, Palacio de Carlos V
Just a few steps on from the bath house, this huge renaissance palace begun in 1527 but never completed, is next on the visitor's itinerary. The building is square but the courtyard is two tiered and circular. The building also acts as a museum. In any other location this building might be more appreciated.
Granada - Alhambra, Puerta del vino
This name is actually a Christian corruption of the name as alcohol is strictly forbidden in Islamic culture. The gate forms part of an inner wall between the citadel and the palace area.
Through the gate it is possile to see part of the Palacio de Carlos V.
Granada - Cave dwellings
From the Alcazaba or the citdel can be viewed the town walls and cave dwellings set on the slopes.
Granada - Alhambra, the citadel
Within the citadel can be seen this formation which I am guessing are the foundations of what looks like a complex of rooms. I couldn't find any explanation of what I was looking at and nor was it mentioned in the guide books that I had.
Granada - Alhambra, outcrop of the citadel
This protruding tower gives spectacular views over the town and towards the distant mountains.
Granada - Alhambra, Torre de la Vela I
The Watch Tower, with a winding staircase up to its top terrace gives splendid views. The cross and banners of the Reconquista were raised here in January 1492.
Granada - Alhambra, Torre de la Vela II
In the background can be seen the snow topped mountain range of the Seirra Nevada.
Granada - Muqarnas or stalactite/honeycomb vaulting
In the Palacio Nazaries which was primarily for the ruling emir, some of the most brilliant Islamic structures in Europe can be seen. These are an example of ceiling which is common in the palace.
Granada - Palacio de Comares - Patio of the Myrtles I
Built for the Emir Yusuf I, this section of the Palacio Nazaries served as a private residence for the ruler.
Granada - Palacio de Comares - Patio of the Myrtles II
This is built around the lovely Patio de los Arraynes with its rectangular pool. In English, this is the Patio of the Myrtles, It has received different names and its current name is due to the bright green myrtle bushes that surround the central pond.
Granada - Palacio de los Leones - Palace of the Lions
This was built between 1362 and 1391. A marble fountain channels water through the mouths of 12 marble lions and symbolises paradise, which is divided into four parts by rivers (represented by water channels meeting at the fountain).
Granada - Alhambra, Patio de Lindaraja
The Patio de Lindaraja was formerly the inner palace garden which is planted with cypresses and orange-trees. The garden was not laid out until the victory of the Christian kings; the fountain formerly stood in the courtyard of the Mexuar.
Granada - Alhambra, Arch to the Patio de Lindaraja
The garden from another perspective.
Granada - The Generalife
The Generalife was the summer palace and country estate of the Nasrid sultans of Granada. The complex consists of the Patio de la Acequia (Court of the Water Channel or Water-Garden Courtyard), which has a long pool framed by flowerbeds, fountains, colonnades and pavilions, and the Jardin de la Sultana (Sultana's Garden or Courtyard of the Cypress). The former is thought to best preserve the style of the medieval garden in Al-Andalus. Originally the palace was linked to the Alhambra by a covered walkway across the ravine that now divides them.
Granada - Carrera del Darro
The riverside area which this road runs along is a location that has been captured many times by artists. In this, the bridge of El Cadi can be seen and once linked the Alhambra to the Albaicin, the old quarter.
Granada - The Alhamba from the Albaicin
Across the valley from the Alhambra is the old Muslim quarter. Today it is a charming area with narrow streets but at night it is advised to keep to the main roads. Any visit to this area should have the Mirador San Nicolas as its goal as this area offers a welcome break for weary legs and great views of the Alhambra and Sierra Nevada.
Granada - Albaicin and Mirador San Nicolas
Another view across the valley capturing part of the Alhambra and the snow topped Sierra Nevada.
Granada - Save the planet - one for the ladies!
On this day, Europe wide protests were taking place about the unstainable way that humans are living. I think. What was more interesting though was seeing a load of naked people cycling along a busy road and then coming to a stop at some traffic lights. This made it a lot easier to get photographs of the whole occasion.
Granada - Save the planet - one for the lads!
Getting free pictures of naked ladies though was by far the highlight of the day and who cares about the Alhambra anyway? It was nice to see that all the ladies have nicely trimmed their gardens and looking in detail, its now quite clear why riding a bike can be such a stimulating experience.