October 23, 2008

The Alhambra.

The city of Granada is known for its quietude and quaintness as a southern Spanish city, its surrounding mountains, its free tapas, and most importantly the Alhambra. The Alhambra was a palace fortress of Moorish rulers from the 13th to mid-15th centuries and is in three sections: The Palacios Nazaries (Royal Palaces), the Generalife (an incredible garden used as the sultans summer home) and the Alcazaba (a fortress that seems was used mostly as a lookout point and was also the most destroyed part of the palace grounds). Though there are only three sections left there used to be a whole city complete with mosques, bathhouses, mansions, schools and smaller houses.

After the Christian conquest of the city, Isabel and Fernando lived there, fixing it up as they saw necessary but left the actual structure unchanged. It was their grandson Carlos V (who I also believe caused some destruction and change to the Alcázar in Sevilla) who destroyed a whole wing of the palace to build up something much more grand and slightly out of place aesthetically with the rest of the palace.

Though there was much destruction that came upon the Alhambra, it was still pretty amazing to walk around the grounds and among the three areas. The entire group sits high atop a hill in Granada and gives you the most amazing view down over the city and off to the mountains.

Looking at a map one might think its pretty easy to get there by foot as my guidebook said it was though Kathy and I followed signs in the town and somehow ended up walking down a street that wasn’t even on my city map anymore. We eventually retraced our steps and found our way to the Alhambra through a series of steep slopes and hills ¬– it was definitely our main workout of the week!

Only 8100 people daily are allowed into the palace grounds as they want to preserve it as much as possible. Not only that, but when you buy your tickets (which should be done ahead of time at any Spain branch of La Caixa and not at BBVA like the Alhambra website and my guidebook say) you have to pick a timeslot to enter; either 8:30 – 2 or 2-8. I think this also helps reduce tourist overflow which makes for a more pleasant visit and picture-taking experience.

Photos above are from our first stop, which was to the Generalife, a most serene and beautifully manicured garden palace with views over the other areas of the Alhambra.

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