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5 Must-See Sights when visiting the Alhambra de Granada in Spain

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Alhambra de Granada is the most beautiful love song that you will ever see. As you wander the endless passageways and gardens, you can all but hear the melody of Europe's love song to the Moorish culture through the intricacies of the architecture and the colors of the mosaics. Since the 9th century the part-palace/part-fortress/part-World Heritage site has played home to many kings and vagabonds, but today the Alhambra instead plays home to a never-ending line of expectant visitors from near and far. For anyone intending a trip to Southern Spain, I recommend you add yourself to that line and let the Alhambra enchant you as it enchanted me.

I'll begin with a very important word of advice for you - do not intend to arrive to the ticket office that day and get tickets on the spot - it's just not going to happen. Instead you can book ticket through well in advance. To give you an idea of how popular this site is, I was trying to book my tickets 4 months in advance and there were only 5 tickets left to visit the Nasrid Palaces. Basically, the Louvre ain't got nothing on this place! Although as a follow up word of caution Ticketmaster will not let you use an Australian payment card. With this, the best way to see the Alhambra is on a guided tour. I cannot recommend enough that you take the tour with Granada a Pie. Even in peak season, the tour had a small group feel and as we were given quality ear pieces I was able to wander behind and/or infront of the group to explore the site on my own whilst having information about the site fed into my ear.  Whether you choose to take my advice, or figure out how to purchase your own un-guided tickets, what follows is five sights that you must see when visiting the Alhambra de Granada.

1. The Palace of the Lions

The architectural pinnacle of the Nasrid Palaces, the Palace or Court of the Lions makes Ryan Gosling look bad. The amalgamation of beauty and complexity that makes this claim viable is best demonstrated by the celebrated fountain which stands in the centre of the courtyard as a symbol of the palaces decorative richness and the four rivers of paradise according to Islam.

2. The Court of the Myrtles

As the courtyard around which all the Nasrid Palaces are based, the Court of the Myrtles is a pick pocketers paradise. I'm going to go ahead and assume that even when the Alhambra is closed to visitors there is a bunch of tourists standing around this courtyard, as it is hard to imagine it empty. Luckily, the unappealing number of tourists squashed into this relatively small area is relieved by the appealing aesthetic delight of the pool that plays courtyard to the courtyard and acts as both a mirror and artist, generating a geometrical projection that distorts the structured lines of the surrounding architecture and makes the crowds around you disappear (at least until you later look at your photos ...)

3. Charles V Palace

As logic would suggest this palace was named after King and elected Emperor Charles V who had the royal residence commissioned as a symbolic representation of the victory of his grandparents who were Catholic Monks over the Muslim citadel.  As a renaissance building amidst a see of moorish architecture, this building sticks out like a sore thumb. Having said that, it's for this very reason that you must visit it as the palace reminds us to appreciate our differences from the norm.

4. The Generalife

Strolling through the Generalife gardens, one can't help but feel like they've stepped into a scene of Game of Thrones as picturesque views of the attached fortress overwhelm your senses whilst smell of spring calms them. And who hasn't had such a dream?

5. The Mexuar - Oratory

Today this room brings nothing but carefree joy and intrigue to visitors as they enter the moorish maze of the Nasrid Palaces. However, under the rule of the Sultan these two adjoining rooms brought much contemplation and deliberation. Whilst the Mexuar served as the courtroom where the Sultan listenend to his subjects’ requests and dispensed justice accordingly, the connecting Oratory served as a place for religious worship. 

From Barcelona to Seville to Cordoba, click here to discover more sights that you must see when visiting Spain.