Alhambra Granada Reviews
The Alhambra Nov 12, 2013
The Alhambra Palace is an enormous complex of palaces and castles dominating the town of Granada, a World Heritage site and one of the most stunning architectural complexes in Europe. One of the trio of major world heritage sites in the region (Seville Cathedral and Cordoba’s Mezquita being the other two), it is a very well preserved complex of Islamic era buildings including an extremely ornate palace, the defensive castle, the gardens of the Generelife, and various chapels, former mosques and baths. There are very few places like this in the world.
The palace is decorated with ornate geometric carvings and calligraphy (and if anyone can read the walls, I’d love to know what they say). In line with much Islamic art, there isn’t much representation of living animals, although the famous patio of the lions is an exception. The palace buildings are centred on cool courtyards and fountains, and have grand high ceilings that are made of a unique kind of suspended plaster work. It is one of the most beautiful palaces in the world, built with materials that were well ahead of anything else in Europe at the time; even the fountains are perfectly engineered so that the shape of the basins gives the pools the right amount of ripple to make the reflections prettier but not actually disturb them. Tickets for the Alhambra give you a specific time to visit the Nasrid palace to prevent the crowds being too overwhelming; you’ll still have to step around people painstakingly lining up the perfect photo quite a lot, but it’s not as bad as it could be.
The fortress – Alcazaba - has intact towers and walls to go up, and parade grounds, but there is little in the way of interpretation boards if you don’t opt for the audio tour so you need a bit of imagination too. There is a beer and sandwich kiosk just outside the gates in, which is a very civilised feature that I wish more castles had. I did not visit the museum in the Charles V palace, but we popped into the chapel in the complex (typical Southern Mediterranean Catholic, in that it looked a little like a gold factory had exploded and sprayed everywhere, and then someone had added some gory pictures of dead saints). The Arab baths were interesting, especially if you’ve splashed out on one of the local hammams, which are the modern, reconstructed version. But the other highlight for me was the gardens of the Generelife area. We had gone up towards the end of our visit as the sun was setting, and the gardens are beautiful. It’s well worth the climb to the top of the complex to visit.
Access to the complex is by ticket. You can buy on the day, but they recommend prebooking as ticket numbers are limited and it’s a good idea on weekends and in peak seasons. Your ticket allows you entrance to the Nasrid palace at a specific time, and you won’t be allowed in if you miss your slot. For the rest of the site, you have a half day long period to visit the other castles and palaces, but your ticket will be scanned at the entrance to every major attraction and many only allow you in once. The site is steep in places, and disabled access is probably limited so it would be worth checking. You’d be fine with a buggy. This is one of the highlights of a trip to Andalucía and well worth the journey to Granada even as a day trip, which is how most tourists do it, but Granada is a nice city and spending a little longer here would be well worthwhile.
Part of the Andalusia 2013 travel blog
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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A must see Oct 19, 2011
Alhambra is beautiful, very beautiful, but very busy.
group tours are not that great.
The best way is do your homework and get to know the place before you go, book your ticket online and take your time seeing it.
Private tours are very expensive and group tours are crap, certainly they found the way to make money.
My tour cost €49 for 2.5 hours of walking with a head set which didn't work half the time, a guid who was spanish and his English was barely understandable so I guess if I would have done it on my own, I would have seen more and not such a rush...
it will take you 3-4 hours to see everything, there are maps and audio guides available which I guess it will give you a great amount of information and to be honest I don't think a guide would be neccessary.
the only problem will be buying the ticket way a head but these days with internet I'm sure you wont have any problem booking online.
overall, this was an amazing place to see and I say it's a MUST see in Granada.
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Prepare to be amazed! Oct 03, 2011
You must not pass up on seeing the Alhambra in person, no picture or review will ever do this magnificent man made structure justice. It was constructed in the 14th century by Moorish rulers. The detail work done on this structure is absolutely breathtaking. No door knob, roof, window, floor etc. is forgotten. Every square inch is perfected, even the littlest detail serves a purpose.
Not only is the Palace itself magnificent but the lush gardens surrounding the fortress carries its own level of brilliance. There is water flowing all throughout the property and there are numerous places to sit and be awe stricken. This will be like nothing you've ever seen. I loved it, every inch of it, so if given the chance don't miss out!!
*** Buy your tickets before arriving because this is the kind of attraction that sells out quickly, each and every day
*** Set aside atleast 2 hours to explore the premises because every time you think the tour is over, something beautiful is just around the corner!
Must see if in Granada Sep 22, 2010
Here's some tips if you're planning on visiting the Alhambra.
- There's a bus (#32) which runs through the city and up to the Alhambra (which sits on a pretty steep hill). We were staying in a hotel on Plaza de Los Campos and it took us about 20 minutes to walk there.
- Book in advance!!! I booked online and for an extra euro I had tickets for the day and time we wanted. It's easy to pick up the tickets there. You just need the credit card used to book the tickets.
- We arrived around 8:15am and they were announcing that there were less than 100 tickets left for the entire day and there were about 200 people standing in line. If you're lucky to get tickets for that day, you could be waiting for 4 -5 hours until you can see the palace.
- Your ticket specifies the time you can enter the palace. You can walk around the Generalife (gardens) and several other buildings whenever you want. Only the palace has a specified time.
- We were told to be at the ticket pick up spot 1 hour before the time specified to enter the palace. This allows time to stand in the ticket pick up line and walk the 20ish minutes to the palace.
- The line to stand in to pick up your pre-booked tickets runs alongside the bookshop, so don't queue in the massive line that you first see when you arrive at the entrance.
- I would recommend going as early as possible, even with booked tickets. Our entrance time to the palace was 9:30am. By 11:30 it was very hot and we were happy we were finished sightseeing by then (we visited the palace on September 22). There were way less tourists earlier in the day as well, so easier to take pictures.
Part of the Europe Take #2 - Spain, Paris, Scotland and London travel blog
A must see Jul 08, 2008
One of the more impressive sites I have ever seen. The whole place is very big and has lots to offer. The most famous place is the Palace, but it's not the only attraction there.
Just an amazing place.
The ticket has to be reserved at least two days before the arrival as the number of visitors is very limited.
Jul 15, 2007
I rated this great fortress and palace as a Life-changing experience, because it really is. I believe it is something everyone should see at least ones in his or her life. As for me, it is the most beautiful place I have ever seen.
The Alhambra, which name refers to the reddish ground of the hill it was build on, and to the reddish color of the Alcazaba walls, was build in several stages. It's main purpose was to be a fortress, that defended the city and palaces within from attacks. It belonged to the Arab sultans and kings that reigned Granada and the larger parts of Spain long ago. Later Christian kings have build their palace inside the walls too.
I could write pages and pages about the Alhambra, as it is the most beautiful place I have ever seen in my life. It was the second time I visited and still it got me all quiet and touched by its splendor. Yet you need to see it with your own eyes. Even the most professional pictures don't give the right impression. It definitely is something you need to feel, you need to experience it. So I'll try to keep this entry reasonable short.
SEVERAL PARTS OF THE COMPLEX
The complex consists of many parts. When you first enter you walk across the ancient entrance road, past the remains of the old Arab baths and the Medina. The oldest part of the Alhambra is the Alcazaba or fortress, with the many watchtowers. These walls are the main thing you notice when you watch the Alhambra from the outside (e.g. from in the Albaicín). They offer majestic views over the city of Granada, the Sierra Nevada mountains, the Generalife gardens, and the Alhambra itself.
The second part are the Nasrid Palaces. These are, in my opinion, most beautiful part of the Alhambra. They are the old palace of the Sultans, well preserved and full of artwork, marble, wonderful architecture, ponds and fountains, inscriptions, amazing ceilings, views over the Albaicín,... and so forth and so on. If you have seen some pictures of the Alhambra on book covers or something, it probably will have been pictures of the Nasrid palaces. The most famous parts of the Alhambra, as the patio de liones and the patio de los Arrayanes, are part of it. Since this is the most fragile and at the same time most visited part of the Alhambra, you have a entrance hour on your ticket. You get thirty minutes to enter (no earlier, no later), but once in you can stay as long as you want. This is a bit of a strange procedure, but smart too, since there never are too many people in one room and there is enough space to enjoy the wonders and magic of the building.
A third part of the Alhambra is the catholic palace of Carlos V, never finished and build in a completely different style than the rest of the Alhambra: renaissance. I never really liked it, but yet it is worth a visit too.
The last thing to see are the gardens or the Generalife (I would write it down phonetically as you definitely do NOT pronounce it the English way, yet I don't know how to do it correctly so I rather don't). They offer great views too, and are a nice ending of a long visit. Hanging around the shades, between the plants, sitting down to watch over the valley, walking through the summer palaces,... A lovely ending of a memorable visit.
GETTING YOUR TICKETS
It is wise to book your entrance tickets to the Alhambra in advance, as there are UNESCO restrictions to how many people can enter each day. When you show up, and the quota is reached, you won't be able to visit. It is easy to buy these tickets online. Use this (official) website: https://w3.grupobbva.com/SMVE/home.html
You can buy the tickets by telephone as well, or in several banks or shops, but I would suggest to reserve them yourself online, especially when you don't speak Spanish that well. This way you can be sure every dates and times are correct.
You can visit the Alhambra at three time periods: forenoon (8:30am to 2pm), afternoon (2pm to 8pm) or evening (not all the area's can be seen when you choose this type of visit). The most recent opening times can be seen here: https://w3.grupobbva.com/SMVE/home.html
When you buy tickets you will be asked to choose an entrance time. This time does NOT refer to the hour you will be allowed to enter the complex, but to the hour you will have to enter the nasrid palaces. For example, when you choose 4pm this means you can enter the complex at 2pm (the time you chose is in the afternoon, so you will get afternoon tickets), and have to enter the Nasrid palaces between 4pm and 4:30pm. I would suggest to plan the Nasrid palaces at the start of your visit (when you book a morning ticket at about 9am, when you book an afternoon ticket at about 2:30pm), so you don't have to concentrate on the time during your stay, to make sure not to miss the Nadrids.
With the tickets bought in advance, you still need to go to the ticket counters on time. These are the same desks as where the other tickets are bought, called to desk of the Patronata de la Alhambra. On your climb to the palace there will be maps across the road to show you the way.
GOING TO THE ALHAMBRA
Talked about going to the Alhambra, there are busses that take you uphill, but don't use them if you are phisically able to make a small climb. It isn't like mount Everest, and the walk is a perfect prologue to the Alhambra visit. There are several entrance ways, but the Cuesta de Gomérez, which leaves at Plaza Nueva, is the most beautiful one.
I would highly recommend to hire an audio guide. In my opinion, it is a MUST. It gives you a thousand times more info than you could ever collect yourself, and even with a good guidebook or well made preparations such a guide has priceless added value to offer. I think I read the whole official Alhambra website three times back and forth, and still the guide told me facts I didn't know yet. It is available in many languages and easy to carry around, so there really is no reason not to take it with you. The price is only 3 euro.
SOME USEFUL WEBSITES
We stayed in the Alhambra for about five hours, long enough to get a good impression of all the different parts. I think a shorter stay doesn't provide enough time to see all the details and to store all the impressions properly.
Part of the Spain 2007 - culture hopping travel blog
Part of the list UNESCO World Inheritance
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Jul 28, 2006
For 10€ you can't do better then the Alhambra. It is the huge castle that changed hands between the moors and the christians during the times of kings and queens. The audio guide is a great tour itself and the sights are beautiful. While I speak highly of the audio guide, having a book about Alhambra will only add to the experience and your understanding of the ancient place.
While there is a lot here there are two big sights. The Palacio and the Generalife. The Palacio is where you can see some incredible architecture and small gardens. There is a ton of history here as well.
The Generalife is the major garden and to me was a better visit then the Palacio. The care and time put intothese locations is tremendous.
It is recommended that you purchase tickets early and you can do this by internet at their website or at any BBVA bank. I recommend that you go on a Thursday or Friday. Weekends I hear are packed and several exhibits are closed earlier in the week. Additionally some exhibits are closed in the afternoon sothe morning would be preferable if you wanted to see everything. When you purchase your ticket you will schedule a time slot toenter the Palacio. If your Palacio time is in the morning then you have a morning ticket and you need to enter Alhambra in the morning and the same goes for if it is in the afternoon. Otherwise there are no other time restrictions. Once you are inside you can stay inside for as long as you want so you can see the other parts of the location. Much of Alhambra is actually free, but you'll want to spend the 10€ for the ticket so you can get into the Palacio, Generalife, and the castle.
They have a night ticket available as well and the Palacio is reportedly lit up well, but at night you can only see the Palacio, I'm not even sure if you can see the generalife.
Part of the Spain, 2006 travel blog
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