The Alhambra was so called because of its reddish walls (in Arabic, («qa’lat al-Hamra’» means Red Castle). Located on top of the hill al-Sabika, on the left bank of the river Darro. To the west of the city of Granada and in front of the Albaicin.
Located on a strategic point, with a view over the whole city and the meadow (la Vega), and this fact leads to believe that other buildings were already on that site before the Muslims arrived. The complex is surrounded by ramparts and has an irregular shape. It limits with the valley of the river Darro on its northern side, with the valley of al-Sabika on its southern side. Also with the street Cuesta del Rey Chico on the eastern side. The Cuesta del Rey Chico is also the border between the neighbourhood of the Albaicin and the gardens of the Generalife, located on top of the Hill (Cerro del Sol).
How to reach the Alhambra?
- The most desirable way is to walk down the Cuesta de Gomérez from the Plaza Nueva, enter the grounds of the Alhambra through the Cuesta de Gomérez and subsequently through the beautiful Gate of Justice, after passing through the woods.
It’s a very pleasant walk that takes less than a quarter of an hour.
- You can take the red minibus Alhambra Bus C30 or C32, which leave every 8-12 minutes from Isabel Catolica Square to the Alhambra.
If you plan to stay in Granada several days and will be taking a bus seven or more times, you would be better off buying a Travel Card called Bonobus, so a trip will cost you cheaper. You can buy the bus ticket or the travel card directly on the bus.
- By taxi. This is the easiest and most convenient way to visit for about 6 euros (each way).
How to buy your Alhambra tickets?
Tickets for a day visit range from € 18 to € 49 (+/- £ 43). For tickets incl. the Nasrid Palace you’ll need to book weeks in advance. Most tourists will opt for the AlhambraCard that gives the best value for money. Check the availability of tickets incl. the Nasrid Palace:
Important: Given that Alhambra is often sold out weeks in advance (every hour there is a quota of 300 visitors), buying your tickets online is an unfortunate necessity (Update: Since January 2018 it is no longer possible to buy tickets at the palace itself!) You can choose from these reliable options:
Recommendation: Are you also visiting other tourist attractions in Granada and will you be using public transport? The € 49,- AlhambraCard is cheaper. Additionally, this provider has the most tickets available in the short term.
15 October – 14 March: Daily from 8:30 – 18:00. Evening visits Friday and Saturday 20:00 – 21:30.
15 March – 14 October: Daily from 8:30 – 20:00. Evening visits Tuesday and Saturday 22:00 – 23:30.
Closed on December 25 and January 1st.
Sights of the Alhambra
The Nasrid Palace is the original Moorish palace of the Nasrid Sultans who inhabited it during the 13th and 14th centuries. The palace grounds consist of the following buildings:
The Mexuar: The oldest part, where the sultan of Granada received his subordinates. In this reception hall, important decisions were made on legal and business affairs.
Palacio de Comares: This is the sultan’s palace which was built around the Patio de los Arrayanes. The water reservoir in the middle has a beautiful mirror-like function. In the palace, you will find several halls such as the ambassador’s hall, the Sala de Barca and the Torre de Comares with nine bedrooms.
Palacio de los Leones: This Court of Lion’s palace from 1377 features a patio with an impressive marble fountain in the middle, which boasts twelve water-spouting lions and surrounded by the palace’s 124 columns. The Court of Lions must surely be a reflection of paradise: the 124 white marble columns symbolise palm trees, the twelve lions symbolise the twelve zodiac signs and the four water canals leading to the fountain represent the four rivers of paradise. Around the patio, you can find the bedroom of the sultan and his wives and the Sala de los Reyes which is intended for large family gatherings.
Mirador de Daraxa: The residence of the harem of the Sultan.
Los baños: The impressive baths of the palace that were an important part of the Islamic tradition.
Sights around the Nasrid Palace
In addition, you will find the following sights around the Nasriden Palace:
Palacio Carlos V: This gigantic square palace in Renaissance style was built in 1527 by order of Carlos V and lies in the centre of the Alhambra. This palace of Carlos V was built after the complex was reconquered from the Moors and the large circular courtyard with two column galleries is certainly striking.
Generalife: The absolutely gorgeous gardens and adjacent summer palace where the sultans would find tranquillity between fountains, ponds and green terrace gardens in the Generalife summer palace. The many aromas of the herbs and vegetable garden complete the paradise-like experience of the Generalife gardens.
Alcazar fortress: The military stronghold and fortress from the 11th century; double defensive walls and mighty towers had to protect the city. This fortress formed the first basis for the impregnable stronghold of the Moorish kings. From the Torre de la Vela you have a splendid view over Granada, Sacromonte and the Albaicin District.
If you don’t want to take a tour, but haven’t been able to buy tickets…
You can explore the gardens for free. This option kind of sucks for the most part, because inside the attractions are awesome. What is cool about this, is you get a great view of the cit, near the entrance to Nasrid Palace. So it’s not a total bust, but also not the best.