Day 13: The Alhambra (Granada)

Our second day in Granada was dedicated to visiting the Alhambra, the last and greatest Moorish palace. To see the splendor of the previous Moorish civilization, this is the place. Cordoba was reconquered by the Christians in 1236 and Sevilla in 1248. The Nazarids, one of several groups of Spanish Muslims, held out in Granada until 1492. There are four groups of sights clustered atop a hill. We visited them all on Friday afternoon.

Ready for a full day at the Alhambra.  Heading for breakfast before the uphill trek.

Ready for a full day at the Alhambra. Heading for breakfast before the uphill trek.

A beautiful, yet tiring, uphill walk to the Alhambra

A beautiful, yet tiring, uphill walk to the Alhambra

The birthday girls stopping on the way up the hill for a little recuperation and recovery. :)

The birthday girls stopping on the way up the hill for a little recuperation and recovery. 🙂

The Justice Gate, through which we entered the Alhambra complex

The Justice Gate, through which we entered the Alhambra complex

We first visited the Alcazaba, a fort which is the oldest and most ruined part of the complex. The present structure dates from the 13th century. From this fort, soldiers defended the entire Alhambra which had 2,000 Muslims living within the walls.

The Alcazaba

The Alcazaba

A view of the Albayzin (you can see the St. Nicolas bell tower that I climbed the previous day to view the Alhambra) from atop the fort (Alcazaba)

A view of the Albayzin (you can see the St. Nicolas bell tower that I climbed the previous day to view the Alhambra) from atop the fort (Alcazaba)

Looking down inside the fort and on the ladies from the tower

Looking down inside the fort and on the ladies from the tower

A view of Granada from the tower of the Alcazaba

A view of Granada from the tower of the Alcazaba

Cindy doing a little drawing/sketching from within the Alcazaba

Cindy doing a little drawing/sketching from within the Alcazaba

Part of the fortress

Part of the fortress

A cool look at the Granada Cathedral from atop the Alcazaba

A cool look at the Granada Cathedral from atop the Alcazaba

A view across the fort

A view across the fort

Leaving the Alcazaba through the gardens (snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains visible in background)

Leaving the Alcazaba through the gardens (snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains visible in background)

A view from the Alcazaba Gardens

A view from the Alcazaba Gardens

The ladies in the Gardens

The ladies in the Gardens

Next, we visited the palace of Charles V (the Holy Roman Emperor). He built a modern Renaissance palace within the complex which he used for official functions. He used the Palacios Nazaríes (which we’ll come to momentarily) as his royal residence in Granada.

The entrance to the Renaissance Charles V Palace

The entrance to the Renaissance Charles V Palace

You'd never expect to find a circle inside the square exterior of the Charles V Palace.   Great acoustics inside - it's used for musical events.

You’d never expect to find a circle inside the square exterior of the Charles V Palace. Great acoustics inside – it’s used for musical events.

Cool fixtures on the Charles V Palace exterior

Cool fixtures on the Charles V Palace exterior

From within the Palace, we looked out across a pool to witness a wedding.  "You may kiss the bride"

From within the Palace, we looked out across a pool to witness a wedding. “You may kiss the bride”

Thirdly, we visited the Generalife Gardens, which lie outside the protection of the Alhambra walls. These gardens served as the sultan’s vegetable and fruit orchards. It was also a summer palace retreat. There is also a beautiful, small palace located in the gardens.

The "baths" of the Alhambra.   We passed these on the way to the Generalife Gardens

The “baths” of the Alhambra. We passed these on the way to the Generalife Gardens

My lovely bride putting the beautifully-colored vines to shame.

My lovely bride putting the beautifully-colored vines to shame.

Walking through the Generalife Garden, which was filled with these sculpted Cypress shrubs

Walking through the Generalife Garden, which was filled with these sculpted Cypress shrubs

One of the fountains in the Generalife Gardens.  The small palace in the background.

One of the fountains in the Generalife Gardens. The small palace in the background.

The walls of the Moorish palace

The walls of the Moorish palace

View through the palace windows.

View through the palace windows.

Fountains/Courtyards of the Generalife Palace

Fountains/Courtyards of the Generalife Palace

Leaving the Generalife Gardens

Leaving the Generalife Gardens

Finally, we visited the Palacios Nazaríes, for which we had to buy tickets weeks in advance obtaining a reserved time during which we were allowed to enter the palace. The palace, which consists of royal offices, ceremonial rooms, and private quarters, was built in the 14th century. Many of the rooms were decorated from top to bottoms with carved wooden ceilings, stucco “stalactites,” molded plastic walls, and ceramic tiles.

Interior walls of the Palacios Nazaríes

Interior walls of the Palacios Nazaríes

Beautiful

Beautiful

More interior shots of the Palacios Nazaries

More interior shots of the Palacios Nazaries

Pool/Fountains inside the Palace

Pool/Fountains inside the Palace

Walls of the Palace

Walls of the Palace

Traces of the once beautiful colors remain

Traces of the once beautiful colors remain

More Palace shots

More Palace shots

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The walk up and down the hill to and from the Alhambra just about did the girls in. We did manage to find an excellent place for tapas before returning to the hotel.

Tapas for Dinner at this cozy place!

Tapas for Dinner at this cozy place!

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