The Alhambra, the Albaicín and Sacromonte in Granada Spain

Granada is a city full of history. It is the southern Spanish city which is the home of the Alhambra and here you can find a lot of things about the Nasrid dynasty or Charles V of Spain, as well as see such incredible places like the Granada Gardens, the court of lions or the lion fountain. Have you booked your tickets yet?

La Alhambra in Granada, Spain

WHY GRANADA

For more than seven centuries, the city lived under the Muslim caliphate and, even today, it is full of Arab culture. The clearest example is the Alhambra, but also in its squares, streets, mosques and Cármenes del Albaicín.

Millions of travelers visit the Andalusian palatine city every year to admire not only the magnificent interiors of its Nasrid Palaces, but also the beautiful gardens in the Generalife, its fortress and its breathtaking views out onto the neighborhoods of Albaicín and Sacromonte.

View from the Albaicin neighborhood in Granada, Spain

ALHAMBRA: DISCOVER THE JEWEL OF GRANADA

The Alhambra, or the Red (al-Ḥamrā), is the only Muslim medieval palace that has survived until modern times in the Western world.

It is the most visited monument in Spain and a must-see for anyone who travels to the city. Besides, you will have the company of guides who accompany you throughout the tour to discover the mysteries, legends and secret places. This way the experience acquires perfect quality. Join our tours avoiding long lines and unnecessary waiting.

Something about the Alhambra meaning

The name Alhambra has its origins in an Arabic word – al-qal’a al-hamra – meaning “red castle or vermilion”, perhaps due to the color tone of the towers and walls that completely surround the hill of La Sabica, which under the light of the stars is a silver color, but in the light of the sun acquires a golden tone.

Created originally for military purposes, the Alhambra was a fortress, a palace and a small medina, all at the same time. This triple character helps us understand the many characteristics of this monument.

La Alhambra in Granada, Spain
La Alhambra in Granada, Spain

VISIT THE OLDEST PART OF ALHAMBRA FROM GRANADA: ALCAZABA

The Alcazaba is one of the oldest parts of the Alhambra, as is the case of the Vermilion Towers (Torres Bermejas). The first historical reference to the existence of the Alcazaba dates from the 9th century and it is believed that it was built during the fights between Muslims and muwalladins [Christians who converted to the Islam and lived among the Muslims].

The Alcazaba became a real fortress, where the king established the royal residence and was used as a fortress for military purposes. At different moments of its history, during long periods of time, it was used as a state prison and then abandoned. In the late 19th century and beginning of the 20th century the restoration, exploration and plumbing works in Alcazaba were started.

THE ALHAMBRA LIBRARY

The magnificent Alhambra library from Granada along with Generalife gather together and conserve all the documents (books, periodicals, pictures, maps, sound and video recordings) in its collection.

Ever since it was founded, the library had various homes over the course of the 20th century, from the rooms on the top floor of the Tower of Justice to the Palace of Charles V of Spain, by way of the Arabic Royal House.

Alcazaba in Granada, Spain

Chapines: thick platforms shoes

One of the most interesting things you will see in Alhambra’s Museum from Granada is the chapin: a type of shoe on thick platforms. The origin of this shoe type traces back to the Roman period, when Roman women commonly used shoes on high cork platforms.

The piece is nearly complete and has been restored. Its decoration is based on plant and animal motifs on the leather elements.

THE GENERALIFE: SUMMER RESIDENCE OF THE NASRID SULTANS

The Generalife of Granada is located on the hill known as Cerro del Sol, adjacent to the Alhambra.

The name comes from the term Yannat al-Arif which means Garden of the Architect and it was owned by the sultan.

The Generalife was the summer residence of the sultans of the Alhambra. Today it is a set of historic gardens from various eras and its palatial buildings, some from the Nasrid era.

These ancient gardens in Granada are the only remaining example to give us an idea of what the Hispano-Muslim gardens were like.

Generalife in The Alhambra, Granada (Spain)

WANDER THROUGH THE ALBAICÍN

After exploring the center of Granada, it’s time to venture a bit further north and explore the historic Arab quarter of the Albaicín. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Albaicín is famous for its whitewashed buildings and narrow cobbled streets.

Though you could easily get lost in the winding streets, it is very interesting to take a tour as you will get a better historical context of the area.

Have you heard about the Aljibes?

An aljibe is a water deposit tank or cistern and aljibes is the plural word. In Granada many of these historic structures can be seen dotted around the Albaicín quarter.

Walking from the Mirador de San Nicolas along the Calle Santa Isabel la Real you come to the Aljibe del Rey which is the largest aljibe in Granada. Built in the 11th century at the time of the Rey Badis, it served the Zirí Dynasty too.

Albaicin in Granada, Spain

SACROMONTE: THE GYPSY QUARTER OF GRANADA

Beyond El Albaicín you can wander along the cobbled path that hugs the barrio of Sacromonte, birthplace of the traditional Zambra (a flamenco dance performed by the Gitanos of Granada).

Granada’s Gitano district is famous for its caves and flamenco bars. Here you can visit the Abbey in Sacromonte, that houses Christian relics.

Besides, to gain an insight into the history, culture and daily lives of the past inhabitants of the Sacromonte caves visit the Museo de las Cuevas del Sacromonte.

Flamenco guitarist in Sacromonte, Granada (Spain)

BOOK YOUR GRANADA TOUR WITH US

With an incredible history, beautiful architecture, and one of the best gastronomic scenes in Spain, making time to include Granada as a stop on your Andalucía itinerary is worth every minute you spend there.

Also, no trip to Granada is complete without a visit to these fascinating places. Allow yourself time to have a wander and be prepared to get a little bit lost in the beauty of this magnificent city.

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