The Alhambra is one of the leading Islamic architectural representations in the world, a miniature walled city within a city, Granada. The structure was built in order to fully integrate with the surrounding nature in a place with beautiful landscapes; the Alhambra is one of the main tourist attractions in Spain and is visited each year by millions of people.
The numerous inscriptions in classical Arabic that you can find during your visit to the Alhambra deal of poems, sentences and texts from the Koran.
The Alhambra as name comes from the Arabic 'al-Hamra' which means 'The Red'; there are theories that this name was given because it was built using clay from the grounds, although some believe was the reddish hue it had during the night because of the lit torches.
The Alcazaba contained a military zone to monitor and defend the premises, being the oldest part of the Alhambra and dating from the eleventh century.
The Alcazaba is divided into different areas:
- Tower Torre del Cubo
Built in the late sixteenth century and adapted as a panoramic terrace from which to contemplate the Darro valley and the Albaycin.
- Parapet of the north wall
Walkway over the fortress wall that connects different defensive areas and served the sentinels to make rounds.
- Plaza de Armas and its terrace
- Tower Torre de la Vela
It is the largest defensive tower of the Alhambra and where Christians placed a bell after conquering the city of Granada.
- Tower Torre del Homenaje
This 6-storey tower is located in the highest part of the Alhambra.
- Towers Torre de los Hidalgos, Torre Quebrada and Torre del Adarguero
- Garden Jardín de los Adarves
The two palaces were built after the Alhambra was finished: Comares Palace and the Palace of the Lions fulfilled both functions of the court and private enjoyment of royalty.
There are several areas of marked tourist importance:
Hall and Tower of Comares
Of square construction, during the fourteenth century this was the place where the sultan gave private audiences. The rich decoration certainly astounded Christian ambassadors, with decoration on every inch of wall and reaching its zenith in the representation of the universe in cube-shaped roof.
Sala de los Abencerrajes
The Sultan´s private bedroom featuring a beautiful decoration on its walls and ceiling.
Sala de los Reyes
This room has some paintings depicting the first 10 kings of Granada since its founding.
Sala de las Dos Hermanas
It is perhaps one of the most beautiful rooms of the palace and features poems on the walls.
El Peinador de la Reina
This tower was commonly used by the Sultan to meditate and was renovated after the Christian conquest to be used as Royal boudoir.
Corresponds to the housing area of the servants who worked in the palace and which has several areas:
- Porch of the Palace
- Paseo de las Torres, where is situated one of the few well-preserved examples of Andalusian house.
The Arab Baths are heavily influenced by the Roman Baths.
Palace of Carlos V
Built next to the Moorish palaces as the residence of Emperor Charles V, although there is no record that he never dwelled there.
Tower Torre de los 7 suelos
It is said that Boabdil left the Alhambra through this place.
Villa with gardens used by the sultans of the Alhambra as a place of rest and meditation.
The Alhambra has always been surrounded by an aura of legend and magic; if you want to know it thoroughly we recommend reading Washington Irving and his book "Tales of the Alhambra' which can be read for free and which details perfectly Granada, the Alhambra and Andalucia of the nineteenth century.
In English: http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/i/irving/washington/i72a/ (available in various e-reader formats)
The Alhambra has three access points:
Puerta de las Granadas (From Plaza Nueva)
This historic entrance leads to the Alhambra through the Forest of the Alhambra and which was constructed in the mid-sixteenth century to replace the original Islamic entrance protecting the valley; of this original Arabic construction there are still preserved some remains.
Cuesta del Rey Chico
This name comes from the legend that the mother of King Boabdil (nicknamed King Chico) gave him this escape route to meet with troops against his father. It is erroneously known as Cuesta de los Chinos and the stone pavement is from the early twentieth century.
The third point of access to the Alhambra is from the district Realejo.
If you go by car you can get there through any of the routes except the 'Cuesta del Rey Chico' next to Paseo de los Tristes, as it is pedestrian.
Here we show you on the map the recommended access routes:
From the Realejo district by car
From Plaza Nueva by foot
From Plaza Nueva through Cuesta de Gomerez by car