We really enjoyed traveling around Southern Spain and one of the highlights of our trip was staying a couple of days in Granada and visiting the Alhambra fortress and palace. Before traveling to Spain, we weren’t aware of how much of influence the Moors had on the region. The Alhambra is a magnificent example of Moorish architecture and the colorful details are amazing.
In the late 15th century Ferdinand and Isabella used the Alhambra as their royal court. During that period, there were some changes to reflect the Renaissance tastes of the time. What is amazing is that they found the original beauty of the Islamic palace so beautiful that they didn’t destroy most of the existing structures, but just augmented it. The gardens that were added are still absolutely breathtaking and you could literally spend the entire day just walking around them.
One of the most interesting features of the Alhambra is its use of water and the unique delivery system. Water is brought from an aqueduct and then runs down, even along the stairs, to feed the various fountains and ponds on the palace and fortress grounds. We enjoyed all of the fountains, but the Court of the Lions, with its fountain surrounded by stone lions is one of the most interesting.
You will definitely need a full day to see everything that the Alhambra has to view. There is the palace itself with its stunning mosaic walls and the fortress walls with the spectacular views of Granada. No matter what time of year that you visit the Alhambra, you will want to purchase your tickets weeks in advance or you won’t be able to get them. In order to maximize our time in the Alhambra, we ate lunch at the Hotel America that is actually located on the grounds of the Alhambra. The food and atmosphere was amazing and was well worth the somewhat higher prices.
No visit to Granada would be complete without a visit to the Alhambra. Washington Irving made this palace and fortress famous in his book Tales of the Alhambra and it is definitely deserving of the notoriety. The history of the Alhambra is so fascinating that we definitely recommend getting a book on it as there are so many interesting facts to learn about the wonderful place. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is definitely worthy of the honor.