Was I in the Middle East? No? Are you sure? Just Western Europe? Alright then!
The Alhambra is a 13th century royal palace located in Granada, Spain. It was built by Moorish ruler Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar who was a part of the Nasrid Dynasty, the last Muslim dynasty in Spain. This helps explain the Arabic inscriptions and gorgeous Islamic calligraphy you’ll find carved into the walls of this ancient palace. That’s right, there’s more to Spanish history and culture than flamenco, paella, and bullfighting!
In reference to the color of its buildings and the forest around them, a Moorish poet once described the palace as “a pearl set in emeralds”. One of my favorite aspects of the Alhambra are the stunning views of Granada that can be found almost everywhere. After all, it was designed with the mountainous surroundings in mind.
A visit to the Alhambra should not be rushed. It’s a visual feast for the eyes. I could not stop staring at the detailed carvings inside almost every room. Some carvings are so intricate that it’s almost hard to see that they are words and not simply drawings or designs.
With almost two and a half MILLION visitors a year, the Alhambra is Spain’s most visited tourist site. That being said, it’s quite necessary to book tickets ahead online. Another tip would be to set aside an entire day to thoroughly explore. There’s over 800 years of history spread across acres and acres of beautiful land.
The original Nazrid Palaces and the renaissance palace built by King Charles V in the 16th century are just a few of the royal complexes you can visit. When you’re finished gawking at those, I’d make your way over to the Alcazaba. This was the fortress where the soldiers lived and while it’s not as glamorous, the big towers you can climb will provide you with views over the city below.
There are magnificent pathways, fountains, and gardens that connect you to each building at the Alhambra. The Generalife, or summer palace and estate, boasts some of the most beautiful and tranquil gardens on the property. Built during the reign of Muhammad III in the early 1300’s, these are some of the oldest surviving Moorish gardens in the world.
Visiting places like the Alhambra are why I love to travel. I know it’s changed a lot over the last 800 years, but I felt temporarily transported. How lucky are we that it’s still standing? We get to walk the same halls as kings, queens, and notable figures throughout history. I definitely had a few “pinch me” moments during my visit and I’m sure you will too!
The Alhambra is a place you really must see to believe, appreciate, and realize its magnificence. Photos will never do it justice but I hope mine gave you an idea of how special this place is.
Have you visited the Alhambra before? Is it on your bucket list? I’d love to know in the comments below!