Back in November we spent a wonderful sunny week in Andalusia, with lots of day trips to nearby towns. The biggest billing in our itinerary was tickets to the Alhambra in Granada, something that’s been on Matt’s bucket list for years. November turned out to be the perfect time to visit, still pleasantly mild but with far fewer tourists than in peak summer months.
I do have a full blog post planned for the whole week (Granada, Córdoba, Ronda, oh my!) but I couldn’t wait to post the gorgeous photos of the Alhambra.
What is the Alhambra?
A palace and fortress complex in the hills of Granada, the Alhambra is one of the most famous monuments of Islamic architecture and one of the best-preserved palaces of the historic Islamic world. In a nutshell, it was home to Nasrid rulers until 1492 when it became the royal palace of Ferdinand and Isabella. It was abandoned for a few centuries and then rediscovered by British, American and Northern European romantics (novelists, artists, you know the types) in the 19th century. It’s since been restored and is now a UNESCO heritage site.
The complex is made up of the Generalife, the Nasrid Palace, Charles V Palace, and the Alkazaba.
This is not in fact the insurance company that sponsors the site, as we thought when we first booked our tickets (here at General Life, we care about your wellbeing…). It’s actually pronounced “Heneral-EEF-ay” and it’s essentially the summer house, which is situated a bit further up the hill from the main palace with a view back across the valley.
Palace of the Convent of San Francisco
The best place to eat lunch on your visit — Parador de Granada is quiet, the daily specials are great value, and it has this incredible view back at the Generalife.
The main Moorish palace, this is the bit you need to book a ticket for, and they’re wildly strict about the time you enter. It has to be the exact time on your ticket, no earlier, no later. It’s pretty far into the complex, so make sure you arrive at least an hour before your booked time.
Charles V Palace
Ferdinand and Isabella’s grandson, Catherine of Aragon’s nephew, Charles V definitely left his mark on the Alhambra, and whacked this massive contemporary building right in the middle of the palace, probably knocking down some Moorish architecture in the process. It doesn’t seem to really do anything or serve much purpose. It’s just big.
The oldest part of the palace, and the military bit, with amazing 360 views. No army’s sneaking up on you with this vantage point!
Mirador de San Nicolás
Arguably the best view back at the Alhambra is the Mirador de San Nicolás in Granada. You’ll have to climb up some steep streets, but it’s totally worth it.
Gorgeous. Stunning. Highlight of the week.