Alhambra: What to See
Alhambra: What to See
What to see at the Alhambra
The original Alhambra complex was built in the 9th Century then rebuilt by the Moors between the 11th Century and 13th Century. It consists of a main fortress, and a sprawling set of palaces and gardens. The beauty of this Unesco World Heritage Site is unique and magnificent. Below we provide an overview of the main sights you should see when visiting the Alhambra.
The Alcazaba: This is the main fortress in the Alhambra and the oldest part of the complex. It was built in the 9th Century by Mohammed I, who was the founder of the Nasrid Dynasty and the first ruler of the Emirate of Granada (the last Muslim state on the Iberia). It was the main residence within the Alhambra until the palaces were completed. It was built on a hilltop, a perfect defensive position for a 13th Century fortress, which for visitors today provides spectacular views of the surrounding area, including the city of Granada and the rolling hills and valleys framed against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Within the Alcazaba the main things to see are the Armas Square (Plaza de Armas), the Adarves Garden, the Vela Tower (Torre de la Vela).
Nasrid Palaces: The Nasrid palaces are a complex of majestic buildings where the sultans resided. This is the most famous part of the Alhambra and a must see if you are visiting the Alhambra. The interweaving palaces and courtyards were built at different times by the sultans who resided there over hundreds of years. The decorations are extremely well preserved and unique compared to other European palaces. The three main attractions within the Nasrid Palace are:
The Palace of the Mexuar (El Mexuar) is the oldest part of the Nasrid Palaces. This vast hall served as a courtroom and as a meeting room for the king and his ministers. Also, it served as a public reception hall, where the general populace would be able to present a request to the Sultan and his advisors.
The Palace of Comares This palace of unique beauty was the main residence of the sultan and the location of his throne room (known as the Ambassadors’ Room). At the centre of the palace is an enchanting courtyard (the Myrtle Patio) complete with a bright green pond. Visiting this palace will give you a first hand view on the life of a sultan in the 14th century.
Court of the Lions This is the main courtyard of the Nasrid palaces and famous for the Fountain of Lions at its center. The courtyard is surrounded by suggestive galleries adorned with marble columns in the arabesque style.
The Generalife Palace: This was the summer residence of the royal family where they would relax and spend down time away from official affairs. The main attraction, an oasis filled with the shade of exotic trees and plants, the Generalife gardens, its majestic beauty can still be enjoyed today. Unfortunately, not much is left of the original Generalife building.
Charles V Palace: the building is different to others in the Alhambra complex as it is built in the Renaissance style. It is widely agreed upon that it is one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture in Spain. Construction was commissioned by Charles V, the catholic king whose grandparents had conquered the Alhambra, and began in 1527. Once inside don’t miss the two small but fascinating museums. The first contains moorish artifacts, the second is a fine arts museum with works from the 15th to 20th century.