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Photo Gallery and Travel Guide to the Alhambra, Granada, Andalucía, Spain

Andalucia's Crowning Glory - The Alhambra of Granada  by Heather McMillan

There are few visitors to Andalucia who do not have the Alhambra of Granada at the top of their agenda. This marvellous palace complex, home of the last ruling Muslim dynasty in Spain, is renowned throughout the world for the stunning beauty of its architecture and decoration. The Alhambra received around two and a half million visitors last year, and it is advisable to reserve tickets in advance if you do not want to miss what will no doubt be the highlight of your trip. Reservations can be made by phone, fax or online and your ticket will specify a window of time during which you can enter the Alhambra.

There are several buildings within the complex, including the Royal Palace (where the most beautiful Moorish decoration can be seen), the Renaissance Palace of Carlos the Fifth, Holy Roman Emperor, and the Generalife, which was the summer palace of the Moorish rulers whose beautiful gardens are legendary. Most memorable to the visitor are the intricately-decorated ceilings from which delicate plaster stalactites seem to hang, and the harmonious beauty of the geometric patterns used in the decoration.

It is always surprising to find that the Alhambra lay neglected for many years during which time its beautiful buildings and gardens fell into disrepair. A French occupying force during the Peninsular War realised the magnificence that lay dormant and undertook considerable repairs, although they blew up part of the exterior walls on their departure! Later, the American writer Washington Irving spent a long period in residence at the Alhambra in the early nineteenth century. His subsequent book, Tales of the Alhambra, which extolled the beauty of the palace and recounted many exotic Arab tales, seized the imagination of the public. Restoration began a few years later and has continued ever since. The success of many years of restoration can be gauged by the fact that the Alhambra only narrowly missed being selected as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World in a recent international competition.

Of course Granada, backed by the beautiful snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada, has much more to offer the traveller than just the Alhambra. The historic quarter known as the Albaicin, whose streets are in many parts too narrow for cars, allows visitors to experience life as it must have been back in Moorish times. Traffic-free, whitewashed streets, delicious cooking smells, exotic bazaars and Moorish-style tea shops, all transport the visitor back in time. The nearby cave-houses of Sacromonte are a popular venue for flamenco performances. Granada’s marvellous Renaissance cathedral also merits a visit. Finally, Granada is a college town (the university is one of the oldest in Spain) with excellent nightlife. Tapas bars and restaurants abound, many of which are open into the early hours of the morning, allowing the visitor to experience the delicious traditional cooking and vibrant atmosphere for which Andalucia is famous! 
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Latest update:November 29, 2020