This Palace majestically standing above the city of Granada in Southern Spain, is one of our favourite European destinations. The site itself is in an area of outstanding beauty at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains. It is a spectacular setting, especially so with the peaks of the mountains covered in snow, a beautiful backdrop!
The meaning in Arabic of Alhambra, is ‘Red Castle’. It was first built as a military base and then became the royal residence in the mid 13th century, of the king Mohammed ibn Yusuf ben Nasr, or Alhamar as he was known. He was the founder of the Nasrid dynasty, and the area was under Moorish rule.
It was originally built at this location in Granada due to its perfect geographical position. Set high on a hill it was given protection, and the area is surrounded by mountains and forests, with the River Darro to the north.
Alhambra, as we know it, has had a chequered history which began in 889AD as a small fortress on this site. It was slowly extended after conflict, but only in the 9th century were ramparts and towers added, suggesting it then became a castle.
The Alhambra became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984.
The Alhambra is a top tourist attraction in Spain with over 6,000 visitors daily. It is, therefore, advisable to book your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment. You will need to spend half a day here to appreciate all its wonder, and in fact the tickets are sold with a choice of morning or afternoon entry.
There is a large complex of palaces, courtyards, and royal baths. It has amazing Moorish architecture, and the palaces are decorated with marble, arabesques and calligraphy.
After exploring the palaces, head out to the Generalife Gardens which are, in themselves, a spectacular feature. There are springs, fountains and water features with an incredible use of irrigation, and this is a fantastic example of a garden from this period. It is an awe-inspiring place to wander around, with beautiful views as a bonus.
Ticket Prices for General Entrance
Ticket prices are correct as of January 2018
Adult: 14 euros
Senior (over 65): 9 euros
Child (over 12): 8 euros
Child (under 12): Free
Visiting the Alhambra is one gem in Granada, but this is a beautiful city with so much more to it. The cobbled streets, shops and tapas bars serving local fare, are all overlooked by the majestic mountains. If you are fit and able, walk up to the Palace through the narrow streets, and you will be in for a real treat.
You can fly to Granada direct from London and Manchester.
Flight time: 2hr 40mins.