It was not a planned trip. In fact, at six o’clock in the evening of a normal Friday we decided to pack some clothes and set course towards Granada. The car trip was not too long, it took us about 4 hours to arrive from Madrid to the hotel.
Ready and with good prospects
Early in the morning, with good weather, we went directly to the city center, after having a tasty local breakfast. A very nice and rewarding walk which we will recount next time. In this occasion, given its historical relevance, we will focus on The Alhambra, one of the main cultural landmarks of Spain.
The access to this former palatine city is very easy. You can reach it walking but, if you are not too fit –the ascend is can be long and steep- it is easier and quicker to take the C3 mini bus, which stops just in front of the monument’s tickets windows.
Regarding tickets and the possible queues you may find at the entrance, we recommend that you previously buy them online and, after printing them in an ATM of La Caixa Spanish bank, you can probably enter directly. So we did and it was like entering a past age. It started pretty well.
The route is cleverly marked, so you don´t miss any detail, that are plenty and varied, of an historical city that has witnessed the presence of the three major cultures that are part of Spain´s history. Romans, Arabs and Catholics made of this place a magical city with a unique architectural beauty.
The Gardens of the Generalife
It was half past two in the afternoon when we started the visit to The Gardens of the Generalife. Visits to the Alhambra are structured into three shifts, corresponding to morning, afternoon and night. In our case, we chose the afternoon option.
In this area, located outside the walls of The Alhambra, to the East, Nasrid sultans gathered to enjoy and relax themselves. Ornamental gardens, orchards and a set of courtyard shaped buildings are established as one of the most relevant edification sets of the Muslim civil architecture.
The most representative of all is the Court of the Water Channel, due to its Arabic scheme of quadripartite yard, of Persian origin and traditional in Andalusia, with additions of the Christian era. Its uniqueness lies in its length, due to the Real Water Channel, responsible for bringing water to the gardens and to The Alhambra.
The Nasrid Palaces
We continued the tour towards the Nasrid Palaces, the most relevant building of this World Heritage Site, located within the fortress of The Alhambra. Before that, we decided to make a short stop for a coffee in the pretty floral patio of the Hotel America, a few meters from the palace of Charles V.
Passes to the palaces are organised every half hour, so people can enjoy the visit without crowding. We had ours at four o’clock. The enclosure consists of two palaces, Comares Palace and the Court of the Lions, both built during the first third of the XIV century.
After this, we found a beautiful courtyard and a room decorated with cedar ceilings, framed windows, ceramic borders, Gothic paintings, symbols and shields from the times of the Catholic Monarchs. And so on, one stay after another, from the Patio de la Alberca to the Tower of Comares, walking through the room of la Barca.
All of them created with an exquisite handmade decor, especially the Tower. Tiled plinths, plasterworks with the Nasrid emblem, shells, roses and stars, stilted arches, wooden blinds, stained glass windows, walls decorated with koranic verses and engraved poems are some of the amazing ornamental details that we admired, always with the presence of water, symbol of La Alhambra and its muslim roots.
We arrived at the second palace, the Court of the Lions. Certainly, another architectural wonder. In the yard, columns of Macael white marble, from Almería, support or underpin the filigree arches that surround the fountain with the twelve lions that give name to this edification.
We continued delighting our eyes with the remaining chambers and courtyards, including the Hall of Abecenrrajes or the Hall of the Kings, whose vaulted ceiling with paintings depicting knights and ladies attracts the attention for the delicacy of its features.
Mentally exhausted with the amount of visual information received, we ended our visit in The Alcazaba, the oldest part of the Alhambra. A fortress that served as a residence for the monarch, before adopting a military purpose.
We climbed to the top of the tower, stopping in several viewpoints, facing the Albaicin quarter, to enjoy the best and most impressive views of Granada city and Sierra Nevada.
Thus we ended our improvised and memorable experience at La Alhambra, under a beautiful sunset that followed us during our walk back to the center of the beautiful city of Granada.
Text © Alicia Jiménez
Photos © Nano Calvo
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