Friday, October 6, 2017

Alhambra Palace Walking Tour

Alhambra Walking Tour

The different parts of Alhambra can be confusing. Which sections require a ticket, which can you see for free, and what is the exact part of Alhambra of this picture you are looking at? I put together a walking tour with all the different parts highlighted to understand what exactly you should be looking for and some brief historical points for each. This walking tour requires some backtracking to get to the admission gate, but I like to get to the free section early and see all the sights before they fill up with tourist. Then I head to the admissions gate and get started on the ticket required sites. This may have to be adjusted based on your Nasrid Palace entry times and preferred amount of walking.

Walking through the "Puerta de las Granadas" and up the hill to the walking path to Puerta de la Justicia. This will take you to Puerta del Vino

Wine gate at Alhambra

Puerta del Vino: As you may have guessed, this stands for "The Wine Gate" and is one of the oldest monument of Alhambra. When walking through the gate, try to imagine the busy market that used to be here. The chattering of people going about their day, and the animals being herded back and forth. You have finally entered Alhambra!
Just past Puerta del Vino is a viewpoint that overlooks the Albaicin area. This is a great time to take a picture and take everything in. Walk through Puerta del Vino toward...

Palacio de Carlos V: The building was ordered to begin in 1527 by Carols V. This was to be supposed to be the family's primary home, as their summer residences were too small. The construction of this palace had it's struggles and disputes, so much that the ceiling collapsed. Walk around and the up the stairs to get a the overall view of the palace. Also take a peek inside the museum to see some of the magnificent doorways that were in the Nasrid Palace. (Museum is 1.50 Euros for non-EU citizens.)

Carlos V at Alhambra
Continuing up the pathway (to the left after exiting the Palacio de Carlos V) you will run into...

Saint Mary of Alhambra Church: This church was built over the site of the Great Mosque that resided until 1581, when the construction of the church began. Take a step in and remember the inordinate amount of gold and jewels, which is in contrast of the Nasrid Palace.

Arab Baths: In the baths it is hard to imagine that this was once a place the king would gather to relax and do what kings did at that time. However this most likely resembled a Roman bath with a hot, cold, and steam room.
Continue up the path, making sure to cross the street and see the replica of what is the modern day medina of Alhambra. The path will take you to...

Parador de Granada in Alhambra

Parador de Granada: If you are lucky enough to stay at this hotel, please leave a comment below sharing your experience! I'm jealous! Here is the most famous, and expensive hotel in all of Granada. This particular Parador is famed for being the original burial place for Isabel and Ferdinand. They were buried here while the construction of the Royal Chapel of Granada was being built. 

Now you will have to turn around and make your way to the admission gate. 

Gardens: After entering the admission gate you will walk along a beautiful gardens. The hedges and shrubs along the paths are to replicate the old ruins that have been destroyed over time. Take lots of pictures, and enjoy the fact that you are walking towards one of the greatest historical sites in the world!
Gardens in Alhambra

As you walk along you will find yourself passing the Parador, bathes, and going through the Puerta del Vino to enter the...

Alcazaba: This is believed to be built before the Muslims conquered Granada; however, the Moors definitely used it to their advantage, prolonging the Spaniards requisition of Alhambra. There are three towers: the Broken Tower, the Keep, and the Watch Tower. Clamber along the steps and take in the breathtaking views of Granada. If you have the energy walk up the Watch Tower, see the four flags flying and bell. There is a flag for Spain, Granada, Andalucia, and Alhambra. It is tradition that if you are a single women and ring the bell at the top of the tower, you will be married before the year end. Typically the bell is ringing all day!

Alcazaba in Alhambra Granada

Now it is the moment you have been waiting for! Exit out of the Alcazaba and get in line for the...
Inside Nasrid Palace Alhambra

Nasrid Palace: A ticket is needed to enter this part, and you will be provided with a specific hour of entry time. Don't miss your entry as the rules are pretty strict due to the popularity of this site. Another, maybe odd tip, is to use the bathroom before entering. There is a lot of running water and no bathrooms inside the exhibit; not the greatest combination for someone who needs to go.

Calligraphy in Alhambra

The Palace is immense, and it is important to keep in mind the three main areas . The Mexuar, the Comares Palace, and Palacio de los Leones were all built by different rulers and have their own impressions and themes. The Mexuar is believe to be the oldest portion of the Nasrid Palace and has gone through several restorations.  The purposes of this part of the palace has changed with the different rulers; however, is believe to first be used as the original Nasrid Palaces.

Outside Nasrid PalaceIn the Comares you will find the residence of the kings, Yusuf I and Mohammed V, which is heavily decorated with Islamic calligraphy. The writing you see on the walls is "There is no victor but Allah" repeated which was to remind the occupants to be humble and devout.

Inside Nasrid Palace near Lions

The Palacio de los Leones is an extension to the Palace done by the Mohammed V. This area has several Christian influences and is a symbolism of the friendly relations the Muslims and Christians had during this time. A further example of the friendly times are the 12 lions you see in the courtyard. These were a gift from a Jewish leader who wanted to celebrate the cordial relationship with the Moors.

Lions Palace in Nasrid Palace

Exiting the Nasrid Palace you will turn left and follow the signs to the Generalife...

Generalife in Alhambra

Generalife: Just when you think Alhambra couldn't possibly deliver any more beauty, you make the corner into the Generalife. Following a path of fragrant roses you start to get the feeling you are in for something good. This was built in the 13th century, making it older than the Comares portion of the Nasrid Palace. Even more phenomenal, is the irrigation system that was built to water the garden and deliver the source for the magnificent fountains. The Moors designed the system to pull water up from the Rio Darro and provide water throughout the entire site.
Different angle Generalife

The gardens are also rumored to be the site where a member of a rival family was caught courting one of the king's wife. It is believe the king, Muhammad X, was so furious that he beheaded 36 members of this family. Most likely this was done for political and power reasons; however, it is not hard to believe that a forbidden romance happened on these grounds.

Once you have exited the Generalife you are close to the exit. However, feel free to retrace your steps and revisit your favorite part of Alhambra. I think a great way to finish and remember the day is going  back to the rose garden (it is also close), sitting down, and discussing what an amazing day you just had.

Alhambra Map
Alhambra Palace Walking Tour

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