The Incomparable La Alhambra, Granada Spain

The Incomparable La Alhambra, Granada Spain

Sunday 23rd October 2016, 7.30am, our cruise ship MV Aegean Odyssey docked briefly at Motril, Spain to allow us to disembark. At 8.30 am we boarded a bus for the 1 hour trip to Granada and a tour of La Alhambra, while the ship set off for Malaga to meet us there late that afternoon.

Map of La Alhambra – used with permission under license © OpenStreetMap contributors

Link to the license under which the above map is used

Partial view of Alhambra from the Gardens of General Life

La Alhambra is a complex of palaces and a fortress located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain. Originally the site of a small fortress constructed in AD 889 on the remains of Roman fortifications, it was rebuilt and renovated in the mid-13th century by the Nasrid Emir, Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar. In 1333 Yusuf I, a Nasrid Sultan of Granada, undertook further works which converted it into his royal palace. After the Christian Reconquista in 1492, the site became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella and is where Christopher Columbus received royal endorsement for his expedition.

In 1526 Charles I (as ruler of Spain) & V (as Holy Roman Emperor) commissioned a new Renaissance Palace befitting his station, but it was never completed due to Morisco rebellions in Granada.

We started our tour at Charles’ I & V Palace.

Southwest corner of Charles I & V Palace
Our entry point to the Palace
Courtyard in the centre of the Palace

Near Charles’ Palace, and built in the same era, is this church

Iglesia de Santa Maria de la Alhambra

The Iglesia de Santa María de la Alhambra was built between 1576 and 1607 on the site of a mosque. It can be seen from many places in Alhambra and appears in the background of several of my photos, including the photo taken from the Gardens of General Life.

The other palaces of Alhambra, built as residences for the Nasrid kings of Granada, show a very different architectural style.

Entering the Court of the Myrtles
Structure surrounding the Patio in the Court of the Myrtles

While the founder of the Nasrid dynasty, Al-Ahmar, began to build in the 13th century, the buildings that have survived date mainly from the 14th century. These disclose the refinement of the last Nasrid Hispanic-Arab governors of Al Andalus.

Patio in Court of The Myrtles

It is believed the Court of the Myrtles received its name from the Myrtle tree hedge that lines the pool.

Entry / Exit for Hall of Blessings
Hall of Blessings, part of the Court of the Myrtles

The Hall of Blessing is a dark room with small shafts of light emanating from the “masked” windows (photo brightened to show beauty of decor).

Apparently this room was used for meetings with visiting dignitaries. The Nasrid King had the advantage of accustomising his sight to the dark prior to the entry of his guests, so he could observe them before they knew he was there.

Entry to the main courtyard of The Court of the Lions

Scaffolding for a current restoration can be seen in the background.

Central Fountain in The Courtyard of the Lions

The Courtyard of the Lions (Spanish: Patio de los Leones) is the main courtyard of the Nasrid dynasty’s Palace of the Lions, in the heart of the Alhambra.

vaulted ceiling of the Hall of the Abencerrajes

Each time I review the photo above I think of three women wearing niqabs. This comment is not intended to be irreverent or offensive and I certainly hope no-one is offended by it.

View from within the Mirador Deraxa into the Patio de Lindaraja
View from balcony into Patio de Lindaraja

As I viewed the bird bath / fountain in the Patio de Lindaraja I couldn’t help thinking of a  Spanish-Mexican Sombrero.

View of Granada from Alhambra (looking northwest)

We moved outside to explore the Jardines de Partal


After exploring Alhambra, the Gardens of Partal and the Gardens of General Life, we walked to the Alhambra Palace Hotel for lunch.

Alhambra Palace Hotel

Lunch was a generous and enjoyable three course meal for us and approximately 300 fellow tourists.

Lounge room of Alhambra Palace Hotel

Much of the decor within the hotel mimics that of the Alhambra Palaces.

A small section of the hotel dining rooms
View of Granada from the Hotel Balcony (looking southwest)

Near the centre of the above photo is Iglesia de Santo Domingo, Granada. This church forms part of the Santa Cruz la Real Monastery, where the Tribune of the Spanish Inquisition held its sessions in the early 16th century.

Port Authority Port of Motril to Málaga, Spain - Google Maps

Map shows the route taken from Motril to Alhambra (approx 1 hour) and then to Malaga to meet our cruise ship MV Aegean Odyssey (approximately 2 hours)

View of Malaga from MV Aegean Odyssey cruise ship, as we left the harbour

I feel privileged to have been able to visit La Alhambra. If you have the opportunity to do so, do not pass it up.

The next destination on our “Voyage to Antiquity” is Cadiz, Spain.

  • Diana
    Posted at 07:56h, 09 January Reply

    Ah!, What memories Thanks Alistair

  • Kevin @ Bev G.
    Posted at 09:41h, 14 January Reply

    A most interesting presentation, Alistair. Obvious traces of Roman and Arabic architecture mingled with Spanish classics, makes first class tourist ratings!
    Congratulations on your superb photography!
    Cheers, K’n’B.

    • alistairstravel
      Posted at 14:07h, 16 January Reply

      Thanks Kevin. I appreciate your response, as always.

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