The Alhambra, declared a World Heritage Site in 1984, is a palatial city on the Sabika hill, near the Darro river. Its name comes from the colour of its walls (Al-Hamra in Arabic) which were made using the clay found locally, and the reddish tint this gave the bricks.
The Moorish part of the complex is comprised of the Generalife gardens, the Nasrid Palaces, and the Alcazaba, or citadel. The Christians built the palace of Carlos V and the church of Santa María, built on the former mosque. The Nasrid Palaces are grouped together in an irregular way and the different rooms are connected by courtyards or passages.
The Alhambra originally dates from the IX Century, when the first historical reference was made of the Alcazaba used as a military building. It was in the XIII Century when the first Nasrid ruler, Mohammed I, made his royal residence there. His successor, Mohammed II, finished the walled ramparts. In the XIV Century, coinciding with the reigns of Yusuf and Mohammed V, the Alhambra would acquire its splendid monumental appearance that we see today. Yusuf ordered the Comares Palace to be built, with its great tower overlooking the city. The inner apartment of the Palace housed the throne of the sultan, placed under the canopy that represents the concept of the universe of Allah. This ruler also reinforced the complex with enormous gateways, such as the gateway of las Armas (the main entrance to the Alhambra) or the Justice gateways.
Mohammed V reformed the Comares Palace and added the spectacular façade of the courtyard of the Cuarto Dorado (Golden Room). He also had built the innovative Palace of the Lions, setting aside the model used to design palaces of the time and creating a new structure consisting of four parts, based on the Eastern Islamic models.
The Alhambra is an unparalleled example of how light and water can make significant decorative effects on the architecture. A careful selection of materials means that this decorative effect changes with the varying patterns of light. The water acts as a kind of mirror, reflecting the architecture and decorative figures, adding to the sense of calm and tranquillity. Moreover, the water combining with the light creates settings with optical illusions, and helps to soften the harsher lines of the horizontal architecture, as can be seen and admired in the Courtyard of the Myrtles.
The Alhambra was abandoned in the XVIII Century. During the French domination, part of the fortress was destroyed, and until the XIX Century, work did not start on the reparation, restoration, or upkeep of the building, which is an ongoing process.
One of the ways to enjoy the rich and diverse monumental legacy of the Alhambra is a visit that distinguishes the Muslim buildings from the Christian ones:Alcazaba
From November to April, entrance is restricted to 6,300 people per day.
Mondays to Sundays from 8.30 a.m. to 18.00 p.m.
Night-time visit, Fridays and Saturdays 20.00 p.m. to 21.30 p.m.
(This visit only includes the Nasrid Palaces).
Closed: 25th December and 1st January
From March to October, entrance is restricted to 7,700 people per day.
Mondays to Sundays from 8:30 a.m. to 20.00 p.m.
Night-time visit, Tuesdays to Saturdays from 22.00 p.m. to 23:30 p.m.(Nasrid Palaces or Generalife ).
More information about types of tickets.
Advanced booking: (+ 1,30 €)
By telephone: 902 888 001.
From outside Spain: 0034 958 926031
Purchase on the Internet: www.alhambra-tickets.es
Information about visits for schools: 958 57 51 26.
Tourist Voucher Bookings:
A discount tourist voucher is available to see the most significant monuments and museums of the city
Tel: 902 100 095 - 91 5962693
Purchase on the internet: www.cajagranada.es
How to get there: Minibuses nº 30.
The wonderful view from the terrace area called the Mirador de San Nicolás in the Albaicín quarter is a good way to appreciate fully the unique architecture of the Alhambra in its entirety.