The palace of Alhambra in Granada, Spain is a World Heritage site and Spain’s most visited monument. We visited it a month ago now, on 3rd September.
As a general comment I’d say it is definitely worth visiting if you’re in the area but I’m not sure it is worth making a special trip just for the Alhambra. As we were short of time (and I wasn’t feeling great that day) we didn’t do much of Granada as a whole but we saw enough to decide that of all the places we visited in Andalusia, Granada is worth going back to. For example, our short bus trip in the city went through the area occupying the hill opposite Alhambra, El Albayzin, and that looked like a great place to while away a few hours.
Tickets to La Alhambra are very well controlled so if you are planning a visit make sure you book your tickets ahead of time. We had organised a private guided tour and the total price including entrance tickets came to close to 200 Euro. The guide was very good but I’m not sure it is really necessary unless you’re intending to spend many hours and ask hundreds of awkward questions. The advantage of controlling the tickets of course is that it was a very pleasant walk around Alhambra with very little crowding despite the small size of some of the places along the way.
Roughly speaking Alhambra has three main attractions;
- The old Moorish palace – our score 8/10
- The gardens of Generalife – 6/10
- All the other stuff – 3/10
Like thousands of others, I assumed the gardens were sponsored by the General Life insurance company. No such thing! The name comes from the Muslim for “Garden of the Architect” and is pronounced something like ‘Heneraliffay’.
As the scores suggest, the old Moorish palace is by far the best part, unless you’re a keen gardener. The maze-like arrangement of rooms, public-private, inner-outer, is something we’ve seen before at Topkapi in Istanbul. Similarly, the very intricate decoration was seen in Istanbul and at the mosque in Dubai earlier this year. I suppose if you’ve never seen it before it will be more impressive but even if you know what to expect it is still a good example of its kind.
What was different here compared to other places was the very expensive use of water features. Water in the shape of ponds, fountains and running water was everywhere.
Naturally, one of the main attraction was being restored when we visited. The Patio de los Leones was not what it used to be because all the lions had been taken away for restoration. Here we have the fountain bez lwy and one of the lions after restoration.
The insurance company’s gardens are nice and provide some good views back to Alhambra and the surrounding areas.
YOU CAN FIND ALL THESE PHOTOS AND MORE IN THE ALHAMBRA GALLERY.