Alhambra tour

January 2003

Here you can find information about Alhambra from a dull day tour to the various parts of the old town, declared by UNESCO as World Cultural Heritage Site.

Originally built by arabians during the muslin domination around years 1100 A.C., the Alhambra was modified several times on the followings centuries, depending on the domination, now christian, now muslin, which have affected that part of the Spain in the history. The monument is located on a an hill looking above the city of Granada, under the natural shield of Sierra Nevada mountains to the east. It has three main areas: the Alcazaba (the fortress) located on the west side and used as a defense system; the Nasrid Palaces located in the middle and used as a residence for the sultans and their families; the Generalife located to the east and outside the wall, used to produce fruits and vegetables.

Alhambra, main access road
Part of the access road connecting Generalife to Nasrid Palaces and Alcazaba (total lenght is about 850 meters). Nicely modelled hedges are one of the key elements of Alhambra's architecture and about 100.000 plants currently grow in the entire area.

 

Alhambra, the fortress (Alcazaba) Alhambra, the fortress (Alcazaba)
Alhambra, the fortress (Alcazaba) Alhambra, the fortress (Alcazaba)
Views of the Alcazaba (the fortress). This group of buildings is composed by several towers connected between them by a massive perimeteral wall. In the central square there are the underground prisions and the soldiers' residences. On the pictures, starting from top-left, clockwise: 1) The east towers; 2) View of the Nasrid Palaces from the top of the east tower; 3) The perimeteral wall and the west tower; 4) The central square with old remains of the residences and the east towers.

 

Alhambra, the west tower
Climbing on the top of the west tower. On the external wall, several narrow holes are used to view what is happening outside.

 

Granada seen from Alhambra Granada seen from Alhambra
Granada seen from Alhambra View of the modern and of the old Granada, from the top of the west tower. It is easy to understand the big importance of a so extended view over the lowlands west of Sierra Nevada mountains, for defence purposes.

 

Alhambra, Charles V palace Alhambra, Charles V palace
The Charles V palace is one of the most modern building inside Alhambra and it was probably built around XV century during the catholic period. The function of this palace is still unknown: it consists in a square with a circle inscripted into and a number of rooms currently used to host a museum.

 

Now the visit to Nasrid Palaces begins. They was used mainly for the sultans or imperators' residences. The first room is called Mexuar and it was probably used like a waiting room (the picture on the left is scanned from a brochure).

 

Connected to the Mexuar, there is a small room used to pray. The decorations over most parts of the walls are absolutely amazing.

 

Alhambra, the Comares Palace Alhambra, the Comares Palace
The Comares Palace and its courtyard was used to split the public with the private life of the sultan and his family: through the two doors.

 

Alhambra, arches and decorations

Arches and decorations visible from the opposite site of Comares courtyard. The wall of this palace is totally covered with outstanding decorations and it is considered on the of most beautiful building of the Alhambra.

 

Alhambra, Los Arrayanes courtyard
On the top pictures, the front of Comares Palace is reflected on the pool of the Los Arrayanes courtyard. Fountains, pools and images reflected into water, are another key element of Alhambra's architecture. On the bottom pictures, a door used to access the side rooms (probably used for sultan's wifes) and a close-up of the gypsum decorations, covering almost all the walls of the palaces (in origin, they was probably colored).

 

Alhambra, architecture Alhambra, architecture
Alhambra, architecture Alhambra, architecture
Play of arches and shapes, lets to see what is behind, depending on the view-point.

 

On the side of some access door, it was common to build a small cavity called "taqa" where to store pots .

 

Alhambra, The Los Arrayanes patio
The Los Arrayanes patio, with a nice pool where the palace reflects into..

 

Alhambra, Patio de los Leones Alhambra, Patio de los Leones
Alhambra, Patio de los Leones The visit continues to the Patio de los Leones. It is a big courtyard, with a marble fountain in the middle, showing several lions around a circle. From the courtyard, there is a lateral access to two small temples. The center of the temple's door is perfectly aligned east/west with the center of the fountain, from where the water spills up.

 

Patio de los Leones seen thorugh columns of the arcade.

 

Alhambra, a dome Alhambra, a dome
A dome inside one of the temple accessible from Patio de los Leones and a window looking toward Lindaraja courtyard. The decorations here are absolutely breathtaking.

 

Alhambra, Lindaraja courtyard
Lindaraja courtyard seen through an access gate.

 

Alhambra, Partal (the arcade palace) Alhambra, Partal (the arcade palace)
Alhambra, Partal (the arcade palace) Alhambra, Partal (the arcade palace)
Outside Lindaraja courtyard, there is the palace of Partal (the arcade palace). It is one of the oldest building of Alhambra, of which we have just few remains. The gardens around the palace was built in the XX century. Also in this case, a big pool in the front of the palace, reflects the front of the palace itself.

 

Alhambra, The old cemetery (rauda)
The old cemetery (rauda).

 

Alhambra, Generalife
Alhambra, Granada Exiting from the Partal, the visit continues walking alongside external wall and thence to the Generalife, the area that was used to grow vegetables and animals. From the top-left picture, clockwise: 1) the perimetrical wall with a tower; 2) the Generalife gardens and palaces; 3) the Alcazaba and the Nasrid palaces seen from Generalife.

 

Alhambra, Generalife gardens Alhambra, Generalife gardens
The Generalife gardens contain an impressive number of plants, flowers and trees, cutted in nice shapes.

 

Alhambra, Generalife gardens Alhambra, Generalife gardens
Alhambra, Generalife gardens

On the top-left picture: me while exploring this beautiful labyrinth made of hedges. In the other pictures: play of waters in the palace's courtyard.

The visit to this incredible monument ends here, after 8 hours walking between these wonders. A minibus will shortly get me back to Plaza Nueva in the center of the new city.

 

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