The Alhambra: The Best of Spain at My Fingertips

Mary Diduch is a student at Lawrence University and an ISA Featured Blogger. Mary is currently studying abroad in Granada, Spain, on an ISA Fall 2A program.

The Alhambra at night

I didn’t just visit the Alhambra once…nor twice. I visited the Alhambra 3 times, and each time continued to be breathtaking. The first time I went was September 25 when ISA provided a tour for us. Sunny, clear blue sky — it was the perfect day. The second and third times were the week of November 19. My mom and sister visited me for a week, and I knew they couldn’t miss this fantastic place. I made the mistake of not buying the correct tickets the first time with my family. They excluded the Nasrid Palaces, so the second time I made sure we bought the tickets where we could see every part of the complex. I am going to take you on a tour of my favorite places of the Alhambra. Each day was different and unique in its own way, so I’ll go day by day. And I really hope someday you are able to visit this monument. It is something you will never forget.

View of the Alhambra from the Generalife

I’ll start with my first visit September 25. As you can see from the photo above, we were given the perfect summer day (ironic because soon after we had a couple weeks of constant rain, and I was starting to wonder if it was ever going to stop). The entire area is called “The Monumental Complex of the Alhambra and the Generalife”. This is a view of the Alhambra from the Generalife. The Generalife is beautiful because it is full of intricate unique gardens and fabulous views of Granada. Everywhere you turn there’s something new to see. This was where the Granadan monarchs came and escaped from their busy lives, and it was constructed for the purpose of their escape from mental pressures.

Plaza de Armas

This is a photo of the Plaza de Armas (Gate of Arms). This is in the Alcazaba, which is one of the oldest parts of the complex. As I walked through this military quarter, I couldn’t help of thinking of the countless lives that have walked here, lived here, breathed here. Surrounding this plaza is the terrace of the Puerta de las Armas, Torre del Homenaje (Keep), Torre del Cubo (Round Tower), Torre de la Vela (Watchtower), Torre de la Pólvora (Gunpowder Tower), and Jardín de los Adarves (Wall Walk Garden).

This is me at the terrace of the Puerta de las Armas — beautiful view of the city
Patio de Arrayanes in the Summer

This is the Patio de Arrayanes (Court of the Myrtles) in the Nasrid Palaces. To see the Palaces, you need to buy a slightly more expensive ticket, and you can only enter at a certain time. There are three palaces from different periods. Mexuar Palace is from 1362 to 1391 (Ismail I and Muhammad V), Comares Palace is from 1333 to 1354 (Yusuf I) and 1362 to 1391 (Muhammad V), and Palace of the Lions is from 1362 to 1391 (Muhammad V). My favorite thing about this part is the Torre de Comares (Comares Tower) in the water. The reflection is so clear, you can barely tell it’s a reflection at all.

Autumn in the Alhambra

This was during my first visit to the Alhambra with my mom and sister. It was a beautiful fall morning. You can see this when you are heading toward the Alcazaba, Nasrid Palaces, and the Partal. On the way, you pass such sights as the Royal Water Channel, Torre del Agua (Water Tower), and Medina. This photo is taken near the Palacio Abencerrajes (Palace of the Abencerrages) Archaelogical Area.

on the way to the Alcazaba

As we passed the Archaelogical Area, on our left side was a breath-taking view of the trees changing colors in Granada. From this photo, you can see it was a bit of a foggy day. I loved this view because above the trees, and above the fog, you can see the line of the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains.

Panoramic of Granada from terrace of the Puerta de las Armas
Patio de Arrayanes in the Fall

This is the Patio de Arrayanes again, but it looks quite different because it is 2 months later and the weather is different. The sky is different, the reflection is different, and the Torre de Comares even looks different. 

To say the least, the Alhambra is a fascinating monument. The history is rich, and it is one of the things that differentiates Granada from any other city. I could go to the Alhambra 5 times, 20 times, 100 times….yet every time I would see and learn something new. Did going to the Alhambra just get added to your life’s bucket list? I think so…

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