Granada´s top tourist attractions
On the Sabika hill is the palatine city, called Al-hambra, which means “Red Castle” (redness of its exterior walls). Nowadays the Alhambra Palace is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a symbol of Spain’s and Europe’s culture. In 2014, the number of visits to the Alhambra Palace sky rocketed and set a new record: a whooping two million people.
The Alhambra Palace was: a palace, citadel, and fortress. Over time it was home to the Nazaries Sultans, high ranked public servants, court gestors and high ranked soldiers until the mid XIV century, coinciding with the sultans of Yusuf I and the second reign of Muhammad V.
The city had been growing ever since with ramparts and into different neighborhoods up until the Reconquista in the XV century. In 1492 the Catholic Rings established the Royal Palace in the area, conducting intense reparations done majorly by Moor artisans.
Furthermore, in 1526, the grandson of the Catholic Kings - Emperor Carlos V, decided to give the Palace his name while visiting the Alhambra Palace after his wedding with Isabel of Portugal along with some other buildings symbolizing the victory of Islam.
We should point out that in the XIX century, the Napoleon occupation was one of the most negative periods the Alhambra Palace has ever lived through. It suffered a lot of damages in 1812 when the French troops tested their weaponary before retreating.
The Generalife has lower & upper gardens, the palace, water stairs, a canal patio, rosebay promenade and the Sultan’s Cypress Patio. They were built to be the place of rest for the Granada Kings when they wanted a break from official palace duties. In its gardens you can find beautiful fountains, water tanks and irrigation canals that show cases the hydraulic work that was put in. These gardens offer a stunning view of the Albayzin and Sacromonte.
The “Nazarie Palaces” is a group of three palaces, each one built in a different era. The Mexuar is the oldest one in which you can visit the different rooms such as the Prayer Room, the Golden Room and the Mexuar Patio.
The Comares Palace: It was the official residence of the Sultan where the throne room was found. Here you will find the Patio de los Arrayanes, the Sala de la Barca and the Ambassadors Salon.
The Lion Palace: Considered as the summit of the Nazarie art, it includes the Macarabes Room, the Lion Patio, the Abencerrajes Room, the Dos Hermanas Room, the Ajimeces Room and the Daraxa lookout.
The Alcazaba is the fortress that protects the Alhambra Palace. It is the most ancient part of the Alhambra that was built in the XIII century during the reign of the Nazarie Sultan Alhamar. He was rejected from the north of Andalucia so he decided to settle in Granada. Today, there is not much left of the fortress but the nice thing to do, whilst you visit the Alhambra, is to go up this fortress to enjoy the beautiful views of all the other palaces, the Generalife, the Carlos V palace and the old Albaizyn neighborhood with the background of Sierra Nevada.
The Torre de la Vella is the one of the highest towers, in which the Christians, after taking over the city, hung a bell at its top calling it “la vela”. They used it to announce victories over the Moors. It was a symbol of Christianity by excellence.
From the top of the tower, you can see the other lookout of the city, the San Nicolas lookout, situated on top of Granada´s old neighborhood hill.
Recommendations: You should plan your trip accourding to the time length of the itinerary. It is about three and a half kilometers lasting for about three hours.
Also, the palaces only have room for about 300 people. Each entry of the monument indicates a 30-minute period where you can only access the Nazarie Palaces.
If your are looking for places to visit in Granada you should definitely go to the lookout of San Nicolas, the epitome of the Albaicin neighborhood. Here you can enjoy some of the best views of Granada and the Alhambra.
The Albaicín retains both the original urban physiognomy as well as various medieval buildings. The three elements have a complementary value creating a universal and unique meaning.
The Albaicín was Ziríes Court monarchs in the XI century and is considered the last Arab stronghold before being expelled completely from Granada. Since the Moors left their homes, the rich Christians from the lower part of town acquired these building to create rich and sumptuous “cármenes”. The carmen is a traditional type of housing in the hillside neighborhoods with a closed exterior space, surrounded by walls and lush vegetation, which sometimes had their own gardens.
Today the Albaicín is a suburb of the city from where the Alhambra divides. There are still remains of the Arab wall as well as the different doors such as the Puerta Elvira, the Boards door, linking the walls of the Alhambra and the neighborhood of the citadel and under which the Darro River passed.
The Albaicín word has several meanings, however the closest one to reality is "slanted neighborhood." We can therefore recommend going up by bus which departs from the stop near the Isabel la Catolica Monument.
Strolling through the streets and finding ourselves in front of monuments such as the church of San Juan de los Reyes, the church of San Pedro, the Plaza de San Miguel Bajo, the Cordova Palace and its Gardens. Descending the Darro you will find the Castril house which highlights its plateresque entry, an archaeological museum and finally the Bañuelo (Arab baths).
We recommend you go down the path from the Albaicin until you reach Sacromonte. These little streets reflect the history of this lovely place and are less crowded than the Albaicin. Here, in the inside of these little caves you can find the Zambra Flamenco Show. These natural caves carved in stone were home to the gypsies, bohemians and flamenco artists for centuries.