Alhambra Palace, Granada Casa Real, Alcázar
On the north side of Charles V's palace is the entrance to the Alhambra Palace, residence of the Moorish rulers of the Nasrid dynasty. Work on the building of the palace began in the reign of Yusuf I (1333-54) and was substantially completed in the reign of Mohammed V (1354-91). Like all Moorish secular buildings, it is externally plain and unpretentious: it depends for artistic effect on its carefully contrived ground plan and its sumptuous decoration, one of the finest achievements of Moorish art. The palace, surrounded by its walls and numerous towers, was known to the Arabs as Medinat al-Hambra, the ''Red City'', after the color of the stone.
Alhambra Palace Map
Opening hours: Mar 1 to Oct 31: 8:30am-8pm
Nov 1 to Feb 28: 8:30am-6pm
Nov 1 to Feb 28: 8:30am-6pm
Entrance fee: Adult Admission Cost, Senior over 65 Discount, Grounds / gardens only around attraction Discount, Child 7 & under Free, Disabled Free
Facilities: Restaurant or food service
Transit: Bus: 2
Alhambra Palace Highlights
The interior of the Alhambra Palace is an outstanding example of Islamic palace architecture, with its careful articulation into three sections - the Mexuar, used for the public administration of justice and for large assemblies; the royal palace proper (the Divan or Serrallo); and the women's apartments or Harem, designed for the private and family life of the monarch. In each section all the rooms open off a central courtyard, as in the old Greco-Roman house; in the Divan this has a large ornamental pond (Court of Myrtles), in the Harem a fountain (the Lion Fountain).
An antechamber at the Alhambra Palace leads into the azulejo-clad Mexuar, originally an audience chamber and court-room, which after the Christian conquest was used as a chapel. Adjoining the Mexuar is the Patio del Mexuar, on the left of which is the Cuarto Dorado (Golden Chamber), on the right one of the Alhambra's finest facades.
Court of Myrtles
The Patio del Mexuar leads into the Patio de los Arrayanes or Patio de los Mirtos, which takes its name from the hedges of myrtle round the central pond. The court is 37m/121ft long by 23m/75ft across, with a graceful arcade at each end. At its north end, beyond the Sala de la Barca (Hall of Blessing), is the 45m/148ft high Torre de Comares.
Hall of the Ambassadors
In the Torre de Comares is the Sala de los Embajadores (Hall of the Ambassadors). In this room (11m/36ft square, 18m/59ft high), also used as a throne room, the rulers of Granada received foreign envoys. With its magnificent larchwood dome, its many tall windows and its profusion of ornament (over 150 different patterns, including verses from the Koran and floral and geometric themes), this is one of the richest and most beautiful apartments in the Alhambra.
Court of Lions
From the southeast corner of the Court of Myrtles at the Alhambra Palace in Granada the tour leads through the Sala de los Mozárabes into the Patio de los Leones, the central feature of the royal winter residence built by Mohammed V, with the adjoining Harem. In the center of this spacious court (28m/92ft by 16m/52ft) is the Lion Fountain, its basin supported by twelve marble lions. The arcading round the court, with its 124 columns, is of extraordinary lightness and delicacy.
Hall of the Two Sisters
On the north side of the Court of Lions is the Sala de las Dos Hermanas which together with the succeeding apartments was probably the women's winter lodging. Its tile and stucco decoration is perhaps the finest in the whole of the Alhambra. The honeycomb dome, the largest of all Arab stalactitic vaults, has some 5,000 celles. The hall owes its name to the two large identical slabs of marble let into the floor.
Sala de los Ajimeces
Opening off the Hall of the Two Sisters at the Alhambra Palace is the Sala de los Ajimeces. Between its two arched windows (ajimeces) is the Mirador de Lindaraja (or de Daraxa), a charming little enclosed balcony with three windows reaching down almost to the floor and overlooking the Patio de Lindaraja.
Hall of the Kings
At the east end of the Court of Lions Alhambra is the Sala de los Reyes or Sala de la Justicia. It is divided into seven sections with high stalactitic domes. In its alcove-like recesses are well preserved 15th century ceiling paintings. Highly unusual are three paintings on leather of scenes from court life and possibly portraits of rulers. The paintings show a consultation between ten magnificently attired councillors, a hunting scene and a representation of the rescue of a maiden from the clutches of a wild man.
Sala de los Abencerrajes
On the south side of the Court of Lions is the Sala de los Abencerrajes, named after a powerful aristocratic family who probably celebrated their winter festival here at the Alhambra Palace in Granada. In the center of the room, which is crowned by a mighty stalactitic dome, is a twelve-sided marble fountain.
Patio de Lindaraja
Leaving the Alhambra Palace and going down a staircase, twice turning left, the visitor comes to the Patio de Lindaraja, formerly the inner palace garden, which is planted with cypresses and orange-trees. The garden was not laid out until the victory of the Christian kings; the fountain formerly stood in the courtyard of the Mexuar.
From the Hall of the Two Sisters of Alhambra Palace, we pass along the gallery on the west side of the Jardín de Daraxa and through two other rooms in the outer gallery on the north side of the palace into the Tocador de la Reina on the upper floor of the Torre del Peinador, from which there are fine views, particularly to the east of the Torre de las Damas and the Generalife.
On the south side of the Patio de la Reja are the Baños, an extensive complex of underground rooms dating from the time of Yusuf I: first the Sala de las Camas, with a gallery for girl singers, then a small bath, a steam bath and two women's baths.
It is well worth visiting the towers of the Alhambra in Granada.The towers form part of the fortification and are associated with various historical moments at Alhambra.
Torre de las Damas
Immediately east of the Alhambra Palace is the Torre de las Damas, a defensive tower with an adjoining vaulted hall, a pool and a small mosque.
East from the Torre de las Damas, at the Puerta de Hierro or del Arrabal (where there is a path down to the Paseo de los Tristes), stands the Torre de los Picos.
Torre del Candil
Beyond the Torre de los Picos of Alhambra is the Torre del Candil, with a view of the former Convento de San Francisco, Granada's oldest religious house, converted in 1495 from an Arab palace and now a Parador Nacional.
Tower of the Girl Captive
The Torre de la Cautiva of Alhambra comes after the Torre del Candil, with a small patio and a splendidly decorated principal apartment.
The Torre de las Infantas
The Torre de las Infantas at the Alhambra Palace has a richly decorated hall and affords extensive views from the upper platform.
Torre del Agua
At the east end of the Alhambra Hill is the Torre del Agua, with the cistern which supplied the Alhambra with water.
Around the corner from Torre del Agua, on the south side of the Alhambra Palace, are two smaller towers, the Torre de Juan de Arce and Torre de Baltasar de la Cruz, followed by the tower of the Puerta de los Siete Suelos (''Gate of Seven Storys''), two other small towers, then the Torre de las Cabezas (''Tower of the Heads'') and finally the Torre de los Carros (''Tower of the Wagons''), at the exit.
More Alhambra Palace Pictures
Map of Granada Attractions