Hey, fellow Steemians!
Europe is full of places that display a mix of several cultures. The turbulent history of this continent gave birth to a vast variety of languages, religions, architecture styles and most importantly - countries. If you tried walking from country to country, town to town, village to village, you’d notice how all of these things subtly and gradually change. Be it a local dialect or slightly different customs, you could notice it if you paid attention. What we loved about southern Spain, or Andalucia to be more specific, is how you get an intriguing touch of Arab culture mixed into traditional Spanish essence. It makes it quite a unique region in the world actually. A perfect example of this mix is the palace of Alhambra.
Alhambra was initially built as a small fortress and gradually expanded with additional walls, towers, patios, gardens and royal chambers. Many parts of the palace were built by the Moorish sultans which can easily be spotted by the characteristic design of arches, columns, battlements and inscriptions in the walls. After several centuries of Moorish rule over the Iberian Peninsula, the Spanish regained control and Alhambra fell into their hands. Spanish rulers, such as Charles I and Charles V expanded the palace with additional buildings but used the Renaissance styles to add variety to the plate.
Alhambra gets many (many) visitors over the year so there’s no chance you’ll get to have it exclusively to yourself. One thing you can do is get there as early as possible and you may get an hour or two without too many people around. We recommend you to buy tickets online, in advance (even a couple of months in advance if you’re visiting during high season), since the daily number of admissions is limited. Don’t miss out because of this!
There are three main parts of the Alhambra: the Alcazaba (fortress), the palaces ( Nasrid Palaces and Charles V Palace) and the Generalife (palace and gardens).
The Alcazaba is actually the first section of the palace to have been built. The thick walls and tall towers overlook the city of Granada and its old counterpart Albaicín. Behind the walls are the remains of the barracks where soldiers used to sleep and spend their time off the duty.
The southernmost tower, Vela tower, provides a fantastic view of Granada. The large bell on top was used to warn the townsfolk of impending danger. There is also a legend that says that if an unmarried female would ring the bell on January the 2nd, she’d find a husband by the end of the year. Why January the 2nd? Well, it was on that day that the Spanish regained control of Granada (in 1492).
Nasrid Palaces are perhaps the most astonishing part of the entire complex. Built by the last dynasty to rule Granada, they are what makes Alhambra a royal palace.
Walls covered by plaster inscriptions truly give an authentic feel to the royal chambers. There are as many as 10,000 of them and not only do they include parts of the beautiful poems but they also show interesting ornamental figures. You can’t help but marvel at them as you pass through the corridors and rooms.
One of the most fascinating parts of the Nasrid Palaces is the Lion’s Palace. Built by the bidding of Mohamed V, it’s an architectural masterpiece where four streams join in the middle of the enclosed garden where the Lion’s Fountain sits.
Finally, there’s Generalife. This quaint villa surrounded by lavish gardens was used as a summer escape for royalty.
Unfortunately, the way the gardens look now is not the same as they used to look many centuries ago. The reworks started in 1931 and are still in progress. Despite that, it looks pretty impressive.
Alhambra is best described by the same poets who had their words immortalized in the walls of Alhambra. They called this wonder "a pearl set in emeralds". Why these exact words? The answer lies in the setting where the palace is built - it stands out from the lush green forest growing around it, shining brightly under the setting sun.
Thank you for reading, hope you enjoyed this post!