The Legacy of the Nasrid Dynasty: Granada La Alhambra
La Alhambra, meaning “the red one” in Arabic, was originally a fortress built in the 9th century. In the 13th century, the Nasid Dynasty largely expanded and renovated the building complex to include a palace. In 1984, the Alhambra was listed as the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is said that the Alhambra preserved the most complete Moorish style palace and not too much reconstructions were done by the Romans after they took over the Iberia.
Due to its popularity, booking the tickets to the Alhambra in advance is strongly suggested. To get the overview of the palace, the general ticket is more worthwhile than purchasing only the ticket to the garden. As the ticket will be checked at various checkpoints in the palace and garden, it is very important to keep the ticket with you at all times. During my trip, one of my friends lost his ticket. Luckily, he was still able to finish the rest of the tour with all of us presenting our tickets to prove that he entered with us and his receipt that he had paid for his ticket.
We started our La Alhambra tour from the Generalife Garden (Jardines del Generalife). Court of the Water Channel (Patio de la Acequia) is the main part of the Generalife Garden. From the top of the Court of the Water Channel, we can have the overview of La Alhambra.
Then we went to the Partal Palace (El Partal) which is near Hall of the Kings (Sala de los Reyes) and Hall of the Two Sisters (Sala de las Dos Hermanas). Partal Palace is especially nice with reflections from the water in front of it. Hall of the Kings (photo 2) and Hall of the Two Sisters (photo 3) are two famous ceilings inside La Alhambra, the former got its name from the artwork in the central dome; while the latter got its name from the twin marble stones, according to the official guide.
At the center of Hall of the Kings and Hall of the Two Sisters is the Palace of the Lions (Palacio de los Leones) (photo 1–2). After we passed by the Palace of the Lions, we entered the main parts of La Alhambra. Comares Palace (Palacio de Comares) (photo 3) was the Nasrid king’s residence. On the north side is the Comares Tower (Torre de Comares) (photo 4) which is the highest tower in La Alhambra. Court of the Myrtles (Patio de los Arrayanes) (photo 5) got its name from the myrtles plant surrounding the tower. Next to the Nasrid Palace is the Mexuar room (Sala del Mexuar) (photo 6–7). As little is known about how the construction of Mexuar is done, I will just share some pictures of this area. Although there are chairs in the Mexuar room, tourists are banned from sitting on it.
Going a little to the south is the Palace of Charles V (Palacio de Carlos V). It is a Renaissance architecture ordered by the Roman Empire Charles V. The building is a sharp contrast to all other ones in La Alhambra, as it is the only non-Moorish style palace. Although Palace of Charles V was constructed since the 15th century, it remained without roofs and thus was not inhabited by any royals until the 20th century. Despite it being roofless, all the rest parts of the palace are very exquisite. To be honest, if I didn’t know the name of this architecture, I would have guessed that it was an arena. But then we can never know what the king was thinking at that time and his plan for this building.
Our last stop was La Alcazaba (photo 1) which was the old fortress. From there, we can have a panorama of the old town of Albaicín (Albayzín) (photo 2–4). The town of Albaicín was also listed as the UNESCO world heritage together with La Alhambra, as the town still preserves some Moorish buildings and lifestyle.