“….overlooking Granada, Spain. Built by Moorish Kings in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Alhambra is the finest example of Moorish architecture in Spain” as defined by Wikipedia.
Having booked three months in advance and scoring the last two available tickets for the day, certainly amped up our anticipation, while arriving amidst the confusion of crowds and queues, really got the butterflies in my stomach excited.
The Nasrid Palaces are the most sought after attraction at La Alhambra – they consist of:
- The Mexuar
- The Comares, or Yusuf I Palace
- The Palace of the Lions, or of Mohammed V
Today I have only shown photographs and descriptions of the Palaces. (Look out for the Alcazabar and the Generalife in future posts). The founder of the dynasty, Alhama commenced building them in the thirteenth century, but the Palaces as they are today date from the fourteenth century.
The Nasrid Palaces are contained within the Alhambra fortress or citadel, perched atop al-Sabika, the hill that rises up from beside the Darro river, smack bang in the middle of Granada. From the minute we first strolled beside the Darro, looking up to the hill, La Alhambra and her palaces looked down on us, flags fluttering, inviting us to come on up.
The entrance to the Comares Palace and the Palace of the Lions is through the attached Mexuar – once used for Counsel of Ministers meetings, and the Oratory – a historical place of worship. The Nasrid Palaces whilst protected by strong functional fortress walls, contain delicate ornamental carvings on their internal walls and ceilings. The inevitable crowds could not detract from the beauty of these rooms. I looked up and let my imagination lead me.
Water trickles in channels, provides reflections in ponds, and sprays from the fountains throughout the whole complex, representing purity of soul.
It is channeled from the Darro River below and was also a practicality for sustaining life for the moors who originated from the desert lands of Northern Africa.
This close up shows an example of the hand carving that is seen throughout the Nasrid Palaces at the Alhambra as well as other sites throughout Spain and Morocco.
The craftsman applies a gypsum based mortar to the surface and carves his individual designs while the mortar is still wet.
Large gold fish inhabit the pond in the 42 metre long Patio de los Arrayanes (Court of the Myrtles), the Myrtles forming hedges on either side of the matching green pond. Completely surrounding this court is the Comares Palace. As seen in the photo below the paving of the Court is marble slabs.
We moved on to the Palace of the Lions where the fountain and lions had been removed for restoration work. The Fountain of the Lions consists of a central basin supported by 12 white marble lions whose mouths are the water jets of the fountain. We were so lucky that the lions had been returned in time for our visit, but not lucky enough to see the whole area restored and working again.
The Hall of the Two Sisters, immediately makes me think of two princesses, but NO – the two sisters are twin marble flagstones that make up the floor. From a channel in the floor, water flows to meet up with the Fountain of the Lions in the outside patio. But for me the most impressive thing about the hall was its elaborate walls and ceiling. Notice how the high windows flood light onto the flower like carving.
The palaces are 800 metres from the ticket office so take this into consideration when entering. A half hour time slot for viewing the Nasrid Palaces, is allocated on your ticket, and is strictly adhered to.
Apart from that you can wander around wherever and whenever you please within your morning (before 2 p.m.) or afternoon (after 2 p.m.) time allowance. Having said that the Alcabazar fortress or citadel is a once only entry and if you try to enter too close to the time of your Nasrid Palace time slot, the attendant will suggest you visit it after your palace visit so you will not be rushed.
Night sessions are also available see opening hours. Night time tickets are for 1.5 hours only from 8 p.m. or 10 p.m. depending on season, and are only for the Palaces or the Generalife, not both. Many people do this as an extra to their day time experience, as the lighting adds another perspective.
I was so glad we planned ahead and purchased tickets for La Alhambra. Although Granada is one of my favourite places in the world and I would happily visit there for the Albaicyn, the Tapas, and the cooling Sierra Nevada breezes alone, there is no doubt that La Alhambra is the jewel in Granada’s crown.
This post forms part of Budget Travellers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday. For snapshots of cultures from across the globe click on the link.