Listed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Alhambra is essentially a palace and fortress complex located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain. Moorish poets have described it as “a pearl set in emeralds”, mainly due to reddish walls, from where the palace derives its name. Located at a strategic point, on top of the hill al-Sabika, it overlooks the entire city and the meadow. With the neighbourhoods of the Albaicin and Alcazaba in front, the bank of the river Darro is on the left of Alhambra. The palace has been designed in the Mudéjar style, which is characteristic of western elements reinterpreted into Islamic forms. Surrounded by ramparts, Alhambra today is now one of Spain’s major tourist attractions.
The first historical documents which mention about the Alhambra can be traced to the 9th century. However, it was not until the arrival of the first king of the Nasrid dynasty, Mohammed ben Al-Hamar in the 13th century, when the royal residence was established in the Alhambra. Ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-11th century. It was converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada.
How To Reach
As far as accessing Alhambra is concerned, tourists first need to reach the beautiful city of Granada in the Andalusian region of Spain. Situated 12 km west of the city is the airport of Granada. However, it is rather small and serves only a limited number of flights. Tourists also have the option of flying into nearby Malaga, as it is relatively better connected to other cities.
Once in Granada, there are a couple of options for visitors to choose from, in order to access Alhambra:
• On Foot: Begin from Nueva into the street Cuesta de Gomérez to have an interesting walk till the palace. Another route is via the street Cuesta del Rey Chico.
• By Bus: There are two city bus lines whose routes go to the Alhambra, lines 30 and 34, which visitors can opt for.
• By Car: Access to the Alhambra by car is via the south route of the city going towards the Sierra Nevada
The town strictly limits the number of visitors to the Alhambra to 6,600 people each day, with just 300 allowed every half-hour to the Nasrid palaces. Entry costs €13/£11. Two-thirds of the tickets can be booked in advance and the remaining are available on the day at the ticket office at the Alhambra.
The opening times are mid-March to mid-October from 8.30am-2pm and 2pm-8pm. From mid-November to mid-March, the timings are 8.30am-2pm and 2pm-6pm in the evening. There are also night visits on Friday and Saturday. The winter timings are 8pm-9.30pm and 10pm-11.30pm during summers.
Granada enjoys a mild climate. Summers are hot and extremely dry in this region, due to lack of humidity. So it is best to avoid the summer months if you’re planning a vacation to Granada. From about November to April are the winter months in Granada, with some amount of precipitation. Rain spells lasting several days can occur during this time of the year. Snow is rare in this region.
For a unique and different tourist experience, do include Alhambra in your itinerary, when planning a visit to Granada!