Granada’s Alhambra – Paradise on Earth

Wow! High on an “oh my god” hill above Granada is the grandiose Islamic style Alhambra, built 711-1492. A collection of palaces and fortifications, each structure built grander than the last, it is the last Moorish palace in Europe, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Alhambra complex stretches over 26 acres, more than a mile of walls and expansive sculpted gardens. There are seven gates and 30 towers (eight of which were destroyed in 1810-1812 by the French troops).

Tales of the Alhambra

The Arabs, astute and quick-witted, brought a higher civilization and style of thinking into Gothic Spain, “…wherever they established a seat of power, it became a rallying place for the learned and ingenious, and they softened and refined the people whom they conquered.” –Washington Irving, Tales of Alhambra, 1832.

Intricate Patterns – Walls, Domes, Alcoves.

Colorful ornate stucco, scalloped filigree windows, glazed tiles, honeycomb arches, frosty stalactites.

"Poetry breathing throughout the fairy architecture of its halls".  
Washington Irving.

Palaces & Generalife

Inside the Alhambra, the Palace of King Charles V was began in 1527, left unfinished after 1637.

The Generalife (13th cent.) was the summer palace and country estate of the last Arab Dynasty in Spain.

Survival and Restoration

In 1492 the Muslim Moors were driven out of Spain and Alhambra saw centuries of mistreatment, disrepair and decay.

In 1832, 400 years later, American author Washington Irving wrote a travelogue about Alhambra’s history, landscapes and inhabitants. Following publication of Tales of the Alhambra Spanish and foreign visitors came to see the exotic architecture. The government began to pay attention and restoration began in 1846, continuing today.

Alhambra survived earthquakes, fire, wars and vandalism – “. . . everything here is protected by a magical spell”. Washington Irving, 1832.

To read about restoration, open this article: Link: “When the Alhambra Was in Ruins” by Carolina Molina

Albayzín Moorish Quarter

On a hill opposite Alhambra, the mirador at San Nicolas Plaza has a “do not miss” sunset view.

If You Go

Alhambra is Spain’s most visited and most important heritage site. Buying tickets in advance is a must! We spent most of a day, minimum 2.5 – 3 hours. The two main entrances are Gate of Justice and Main Pavilion.

After Alhambra, visit Granada’s Historico Centro, “a most picturesque and beautiful city, situated in one of the loveliest landscapes that I have ever seen.” – Washington Irving.

Previous Posts: During this period, Andalusia had 3 Moorish capitals, Cordoba and Sevilla and Granada. See links below:

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6 thoughts on “Granada’s Alhambra – Paradise on Earth

  1. OH My…… unbelievably beautiful, magnificent, stunning , breathtaking … jealous of you guys, but thank you for letting me live vicariously through you. Love to both of you , stay safe, Norma.

  2. Well done! Loved the story and photos! The architecture including landscape architecture is amazing! Have never been there, but your writing and photos are an inspiration! It’s on the list thanks to your great piece!

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