Leaving the beautiful city of Ronda, there was one place on our visit to Southern Spain that I knew we had to find a way to fit into our travel plans and that place was The Alhambra.
For ages I’d been obsessed with The Alhambra and when I knew we’d be near enough to drive to it, it was pretty much a no brainer. Even photos alone, show you why this place has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site!
And so, in something of a long winded journey, we drove from Ronda, past the general vicinity of the airport (where we would need to head to later that evening) and on to Granada.
Within an hour and a half of driving, we could already see the snow capped Sierra Nevada mountains ranges (it’s very unusual to see snow-capped mountain in Spain – especially so in Southern Spain).
The thing with visiting the Alhambra, by the way, is that demand is very high for tickets and if you don’t book them in advance, you risk being very disappointed on the day when you can’t get in.
Luckily, we arrived on time (just barely) to get tickets for general entry. Alas, although we had general entry to pretty much everything, we missed out on the ticket to the Nasrid Palace… another excuse to come back I guess (plus, we were like amongst the last 20 people for general entry tickets so knowing we could have missed entry to The Alhambra entirely help set things in perspective).
The Alhambra is a sprawling Arabesque Palace and complex, built by the Moors on Roman remains and is an absolutely beautiful place! Let me show you around…
There are lots of different building in here so there’s a fair bit to see and the order in which you do so is entirely up to you (except for the Nasrid Palace – you get an allotted entry time for that one and you have to arrive like 20 – 30 minutes in advance as there’s usually a queue for entry).
The more we wandered, the more excited I got! The Alhambra was all I’d imagined and more…
After popping in and out of a myriad of amazing building, we headed over to the Tower of Justice.
The Tower of Justice (you need to have tickets for this one) is one of the best spots to get an amazing view of not just The Alhambra but also, the surrounding countryside.
Next to The Alhambra is the beautiful (also UNESCO World Heritage site) of Albayzín (also known as Albaicin). This neighbourhood is one of the most impressive, arguably in all of Spain, and sprawls across a mountain next to the Alhambra. (Alas, we didn’t have enough time to pop in properly but hey, that’s yet another reason to return to Granada soon).
On the other side of the Tower of Justice, you can also see the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains much closer than we did on the drive in. You can actually go skiing here (I know, right? Skiing in Spain!) as the mountain range is one of the highest in Europe! (Let’s just add a Sierra Nevada ski trip onto that growing list of reasons to return to Granada).
We headed off next to the Palace of Charles V and its courtyard, despite its name, was never actually home to any of the Monarch. This Renaissance building is actually quite different from the Arabesque architecture that you see dotted across the Alhambra yet fits in perfectly with the rest.
From the area around the courtyard, you can also get a sneak peek into the Nasrid Palace (below)… but only barely just!
We moved on through the Alhambra, slowly realizing that despite the fact that we knew it was huge and came prepared for this, it was even much bigger than we’d imagined.
Our next stop was the Partal (with its stunning reflection). By this point, we were eager to cram in as much of the Alhambra before heading off the the nearby Generalife (definitely not pronounced General-Life… it’s more like Hen-err-ah-lee-fay) though we’ll have more on Generalife in another posts – that’s a whole different complex and more photos than would fit into this post.
The buildings around the Partal is home to some really stunning and very intricate Arabesque walls, which, although you see them all around the Alhambra, never stops being fascinating. The detail is just stunning!
Eventually, spurred on my boarding pass notification in my iPhone passbook, we bade farewell to the Alhambra and hot-footed it over to Generalife. (I’m not even kidding either – we literally ran over to Generalife which is not as close as you’d think 🙂 )