Calle Real de la Alhambra, s/n, 18009 Granada, Spain
GPS: 37.178376001012, -3.5860433017598
The Alhambra palatial complex is an admirable group of royal palaces influenced by Moorish culture. This is one of Spain’s true architectural masterpieces and is one of the most visited monuments in Spain. Overlooking the city of Granada with the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the background, the Unesco World Heritage Site represents the capital of the last Muslim kingdom in Spain until the end of the 15th century.
The Islamic palace complex Alhambra was built in the early 13th century on one of the oldest ancient 11th-century fortresses (Alcazaba) by the founder of the Nasrid dynasty, Muhammad I of Granada. Its monuments within the Alhambra complex served as the residence of the Moorish kings (or sultans) and their courts. In the Middle Ages, the Mediterranean basin was dominated by a civilisation composed of Arabs and Berbers. This supremacy was embodied in turn by the Umayyads, the Abbasids and the Almoravids before the emergence of the Nasrids. Their territory, under Muslim rule, is called Al Andalus. It extended over the Iberian Peninsula and part of southern France between the beginning of the 8th and the end of the 15th centuries. At the time of the construction of the Palace of Alhambra, the caliphs (Muslim rulers) only controlled a small territorial entity in Spain. They retreated to the Emirate of Granada and built a fortified royal residence to protect themselves from the expansion of the Spanish Christians in Spain (this period of history is called the Reconquista). It was during the reign of the sultans Yusuf I and Muhammad V al-Ghanî, in the first half of the 14th century, that the Alhambra’s heritage was adorned with its most refined Moorish elements. As figurative art was not very popular in mediaeval Islam, Granada’s monument is provided with magnificent abstract, geometric and floral decorations as well as texts or poems in Arabic and extracts from the Koran.
The Alhambra in Granada with its impressive enclosure is also known as the “red fortress” (qalat). It includes one of the world’s last vestiges of this mediaeval architecture, the Nasrid Palaces. Reconquered by the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile in 1492, the buildings of the Alhambra resisted the desire of their new occupants to destroy them and thus erase all links with Islam. To rival the splendour of Moorish architecture, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V had a new Renaissance style palace built in 1527. This great monument, together with the Alcazaba, the Nasrid Palaces, the Palacio de Generalife and the magnificent lush gardens, are the jewels of this medieval acropolis, which many consider one of the most beautiful in the Mediterranean. If you have time to visit and are able to visit you may take a guided tour depending on the time of the day and buy tickets in advance or take a self-guided tour. When you visit Alhambra and stay in Granada you may take time to walk to the oldest part, the city center or city centre, a moor fountain or arch, the summer palace, the orange trees, the fortress of Alcazaba, the court of the lions, the courtyard or also visit another attraction in the rest of the Alhambra that was well known to the kings of Granada or the Nasrid rulers of the Nasrid kingdom when on your trip to the Alhambra you visit the Nasrid palaces and see views of Granada.