Looking forward to something for an entire trip is both exciting and depressing. Seeing buildings, places, or monuments that are compared to the Alhambra, that are amazing in and of themselves, really gives you something to look forward to. Knowing that everything you see up to that point will simply not match up to the beauty of the Alhambra puts a bit of a damper on some of these must see items. Trips change people in ways that are unpredictable, memories are made and forgotten but somethings just stick with you for a lifetime. For us visiting Granada will be one of those memories and a large part of that will be due to Alhambra. Here are some of the highlights of our day…
First thing first, getting a reservation to the Alhmabra (<-Interactive map) is a bit difficult. There are about 8 options on the ticketmaster website and if you book a few weeks in advance you should be good but knowing which option to pick can be tricky. You want to make sure you get access to the Nasrid Palace -you will need a set time, Generalife and Alcazaba. To do this we booked the Granada Card for 37 Euros (kids were free). We got access to a bunch of other sites but being able to pick your time to see the Nasrid Palace is what you are really paying for. We probably would have booked a tour if it was just the two of us but this option worked out to be a great deal. We chose 9 AM so we could get there early, avoid the lines and most importantly avoid the 40+ degree heat. Also, no strollers at the Nasrid Palace so we doubled up on carriers and had a back pack to carry our water and snacks. The walk to and from is really something to see. We were in a rush so we cabbed it there but made sure we made the walk back home (well worth it even if you are tired).
After picking up the kids tickets from the Alhambra Office we had about a 1km walk to the Nasrid Palace entrance. Very few people in the lineup and we got in right at 9. Right away its almost like you step into a fantasy world, taking you back hundreds of years. The building and gardens are so well maintained you can really get an idea of what it felt like for the Royalty to walk through these walls.
We do a few laps around a few small rooms and courtyards listening to our audioguide teach us about the Kings that built the palace and used to call this place home.
Every door is detailed beautifully, the walls are the same and many of the ceilings all follow this geometric pattern
The next courtyard is the Patio de los Leones which was under a bit of construction. There were four rooms all with water coming out of them to the middle fountain which was built in a way it could not overflow. After that we passed through Jardin de Linderaja which is also a mirador or look out point. The views over looking the neighbourhood of Albazyn are outstanding. We spent at least 15 minutes here taking in the views and getting a rest in the beautiful garden below.
Next stop is through the Partal and back towards the Alcazaba (Fortress of Alhambra). The Alcazaba takes maybe 30 – 45 minutes to see everything. It had some prisons and dwellings of the most trusted soldiers in the Royal Army along with some amazing 360 degree views of Granada. There is also a snack shop around the entrance and a nice shaded place to get a coffee or fill up on water near the entrance here.
It was about 12 by this point and the place was starting to get busy so we made our move to our last stop Generalife which was used as a get away from the Palace for Royalty when they needed a vacation or some down time. The walk from the Alcazaba to Generalife is about 10 – 15 minutes along one of the walls of the Alhambra. You can stop to check out the key towers along the way but there was not much shade in this area so we had to keep moving. The Gardens are immaculate, trimmed to perfection with flowers from all over the world. Even the smell is perfect and the views of the Alhambra in its entirety are breathtaking. Our son loved playing in the fountains, splashing and putting water on his arms and head. We could have spent more time here but the crowds were getting large and we had trouble getting passed the ticket checker due to our tickets not scanning properly, add in the heat and we were ready for our walk home.
From Generalife we had about a 20 minute hike through some gardens and downhill back to our hotel. We had read the walk through the Alhambra Woods is not to be missed. You really get an idea of the size and height of the walls walking home from the Fortress. We started to imagine showing up to a ball riding along in horse and carriage wondering what it must have been like to see this for the first time so long ago. Neither of us our history buffs by any stretch of the imagination but it is next to impossible not to respect and admire the work and imagination that went into building this. We loved the Alhambra, we bought a few mementos we hope will help the memory live on. If you ever come to Spain, make Granada a stop, you will not regret it.