The Red Castle of Spain
The Alhambra, a palatine city built in clayey stone, was originally called al-Qalá al-Hamrá, in Arab, which means “the red castle”. But, who could pronounce that?
Actually, its name is not the only thing that is special about this complex. There are also its monumental dimensions (2363 ft. long by 721 ft. wide) as well as the abundance and complexity of its decorations.
Tour of the Alhambra
When you visit this touristic attraction, we recommend heading to the Alcazaba in the first place. It’s a military area that is also one of the oldest buildings on site. There, one of our main suggestions is to climb up the Torre de la Vela from which you’ll enjoy a great view of all of Granada.
The Nazari Palaces
Afterwards, go to the Nazari Palaces, the part of the complex where you’ll spend the longest time. You’ll find three palaces built during different periods: the Mexuar, Comares and Lions Palaces. This last one is considered the finest example of Nazari art. What’s more, it harbors the Courtyard of the Lions, full of rich decorations that possess proportional and visual perfection. The treasure found in this area is the Lions Fountain, which was built using a complex engineering system that allowed the water to look like a thin metal plate without ever overflowing. How is this special? Remember that water was the most precious element for the Islamic people who came from the desert. That’s why it’s even more impressive that they became such great masters in the hydraulic techniques they inherited from the Romans, the Persians and the Egyptians.
On the other hand, the Comares Courtyard, also known as the Arrayanes Courtyard, has a huge water mirror that was created with such technique that the nearby building’s reflection shows no deformation.
Visiting the Alhambra
It’s important to know that the Patronage of the Alhambra and Generalife has established a maximum limit of 300 people per half-hour visit. Therefore, check your tickets to find the specific 30 minutes during which you’ll be allowed to visit the Nazari Palaces.
Your next stop is the Generalife, a space that’s conformed by gardens and a palace that served as a country house for the monarchy. Once there, go to the Acequia Courtyard where you’ll see some awesome jumping jet fountains.
Add a touch of contrast to your tour by visiting the Palace of Charles V. This Spanish monarch was so embellished by Muslim architecture, that he moved his court to the Alhambra. Nevertheless, he also added his Western artistic taste to the complex by building a Renaissance palace.
And so, the Alhambra merges two contrasting worlds: the Western world with its solid and sober architecture, and the Eastern world represented by more feminine structures with fine details, thin columns and rich decoration.