Alhambra Walking Tour (Self Guided), Granada

One of the first places a tourist wants to visit in Granada is Alhambra. This is one of the best-known sites, and it has a long history. However, Granada has many other things to explore than Alhambra. There are plenty of sights right around this gorgeous palace. So, before visiting Alhambra, take this tour and see what most of the tourists don't get a chance to look at.
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Alhambra Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Alhambra Walking Tour
Guide Location: Spain » Granada (See other walking tours in Granada)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles
Author: anna
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Puerta de las Granadas
  • Puerta De La Justicia
  • Torre de la Vela
  • Alcazaba
  • The Palace of Charles V
  • Court of the Lions and the Fabulous Fountain
  • The Nasrid Royal Palace
  • The Generalife
Puerta de las Granadas

1) Puerta de las Granadas (must see)

Built in the 16th century on the site previously occupied by another gate, called Nazari, Puerta de las Granadas has been the main gateway to the Alhambra palace since. It was built in the form of a Roman triumphal arch, designed by Pedro Machuca, who dedicated it in honor of Emperor Charles V.
Puerta De La Justicia

2) Puerta De La Justicia (must see)

Otherwise known as the Gate of Justice, this complex was built by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada, in 1348. However, it seems that its original name was Bib-Xaria, the Gate of the Esplanade, as it formed a grand entrance to the Alhambra palace gardens. Puerta De La Justicia comprises two elegant arches - a larger and a smaller one - both made from white Macael marble.
Torre de la Vela

3) Torre de la Vela (must see)

The Torre de la Vela is the watchtower found within the Alhambra palace complex. First built by the Emirs of Granada as part of the original palace design, it is now primarily used to commemorate the day that they were overthrown. On January 2nd, the anniversary of the Conquest of Granada in 1492, single women of the town race to be the first to ring the bell. Superstition dictates that the first woman to reach the bell will be married by the end of the year. The tower and its bell are not used throughout the rest of the year, although this was not always the case.

An effective watchtower for the Moors, the Torre de la Vela overlooks the Vela valley – hence its name. It also commands a superb view over the city and the surrounding mountains. The tower stands 27 meters tall, and has a solid square based of 16 by 16 meters. The interior of the tower has been modified since Moorish times, and comprised four floors supported by arches. The bell was used for centuries to chime over the Vela valley, informing local farmers of the best time to water their crops. It was moved into the western façade of the tower in 1840. Forty years later, the tower was struck by lightning, and had to be reconstructed.

4) Alcazaba

The ruins of a massive fortress perched atop the crest of the hill overlooking the city, this is the oldest part of the Alhambra and offers some of the finest views of anywhere in the complex, with an expansive panorama from the top of the prominent tower that gives you a spectacular view of nearly the entire city and the Sierra Nevada mountains. Within the fort's walls are the ruins of a town which once held soldier's homes and baths, though today only the outline of these rooms remain.
The Palace of Charles V

5) The Palace of Charles V (must see)

The Palace of Charles V is located on the top of the Assabica hill, within the fortified walls of the Alhambra palace. It was built in 1527 for Charles V, a Holy Roman Emperor, who wished to build a residence close to the Alhambra. It was his decision to request a brand new palace befitting his imperial status, rather than adapt the existing Alhambra palace, that prevented the original Moorish castle from being altered beyond recognition.

The palace is a Renacentist construction, designed by Pedro Machuca, a little known Spanish architect. Rather than adopt the Gothic style popular with the conquistadors of Granada, Machuca created a stunning building in the Mannerist style, influenced by Italian architecture. The layout of the palace was built around a 17 meter high, 63 meter wide square, with a circular patio area at its center – in keeping with Mannerist architectural tradition, but very unusual for the period. The rooms are laid out over two storeys and several mezzanines around this courtyard area.

A Doric colonnade around the patio’s lower portion, and a simple Ionic colonnade around the upper floors, suggests that Machuca aimed to incorporate elements of Roman Empire era design into the palace. This style is combined with the grandeur and sweeping lines of the Renaissance era to create a building that became a puzzle for architectural historians.
Court of the Lions and the Fabulous Fountain

6) Court of the Lions and the Fabulous Fountain

It was built for sultan Muhammed V in 1378, with a central fountain supported by 12 tame-looking lions. The poem which is engraved on the fountain, praises the sultan and this beautiful palace garden, planted with trees and aromatic herbs. It's surrounded by a gallery with 124 marble columns that overlooks three of the most attractive rooms in the complex.
The Nasrid Royal Palace

7) The Nasrid Royal Palace

The Nasrid Royal Palace consists of three main parts: Mexuar, Serallo, and the Harem. The Mexuar is modest in decor and houses the functional areas for conducting business and administration. Strapwork is used to decorate the surfaces in Mexuar. The ceilings, floors, and trim are made of dark wood and are in sharp contrast to white, plaster walls. Serallo, built during the reign of Yusuf I in the 14th century, contains the Patio de los Arrayanes (Court of the Myrtles). Brightly colored interiors featured dado panels, yesería, azulejo, cedar, and artesonado. Artesonado are highly decorative ceilings and other woodwork. Lastly, the Harem is also elaborately decorated and contains the living quarters for the wives and mistresses of the Berber monarchs. This area contains a bathroom with running water (cold and hot), baths, and pressurized water for showering. The bathrooms were open to the elements in order to allow in light and air.
Sight description based on wikipedia
The Generalife

8) The Generalife (must see)

The Generalife Gardens, together with the Alhambra palace and Albayzin district, are a designated UNESCO world heritage site, and the most popular tourist attractions in the city of Granada. The Generalife formed the grounds of the Alhambra, and both were used as summer retreats for the Nasrid Emirs of Al-Andalus. Al-Andalus was an area colonized by the Moors, roughly equivalent to modern Andalucía, from the 9th to the 15th centuries. The gardens were constructed with the palace during the reign of Muhammad III in the early 14th century. Largely untouched, they have been extended by a 20th century area, landscaped in the traditional local style.

The Generalife is one of the oldest surviving Moorish gardens. It was originally linked to the Alhambra by a covered walkway across the ravine that lies between them. The main section of the gardens is known as the Court of the Water Channel. It is composed of a long, lily covered pool framed by colonnades, fountains and flower beds. The centre piece of the Generalife, it is one of the best preserved examples of a medieval Persian garden. Another picturesque area is the Jardin de la Sultana, where tall cypress trees surround an Arabian style fountain.

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