Carol and I with Brian and Sue at Nerja

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Alhambra Palace in Granada          "Alhambra"

Spanish Music


This multi-storied complex was once an Alcazaba (fortress), an Alcázar (palace) and a small Medina (city), all in one. Although there was earlier construction here, most of what remains was built over a hundred year period from the mid-13th to the mid-14th century. Each of several successive rulers built his own palace within the palace complex. The Alhambra is considered the finest example of Moorish architecture in Spain. It owes much of its fame, however, to author Washington Irving, who was inspired to write his famous "Tales of the Alhambra" while actually living in an apartment in the Alhambra for a few months in 1829. The entire structure was badly deteriorating when Irving visited it, but extensive restoration began soon after. Gypsies, who had occupied the palaces for years, had added to the run-down of the area, and were eventually evicted from the complex.
Our coach tour guide hands over to Patricia, our guide for the nearly five hour tour of the Palaces

We first tried to visit the Alhambra Palace a year ago, when the four of us decided to make the journey by car from Nerja, a matter of 60 miles away, taking roughly 90 minutes, passing by Almuñecar and La Herradura before turning inland towards Granada, City of the Moors.
We arrived at mid day and went to pay for the tickets (cost
10 per person), only to find that the next available entrance was at 6.00pm in the evening. On asking why, it was explained that over 7,000 visitors daily visit the Palaces, more than 2/3rds are pre-booked by coach operators, so if you are planning to visit  privately either book before the day or arrive early!

There had been settlements in Granada, or Ilbyr as it was then known for many centuries before the Romans came, named the area Illibris  and built a fortress on Albaicin Hill, where the old Moorish casbah is now found. When the Moors arrived in the 8th century, they occupied the area along with the rest of southern Spain. But it was only after the fall of Cordoba to the Christians in 1256 that Granada became an important city. The centre of Moorish power was transferred to Granada, bringing a massive influx of nobles, architects and money which eventually led to the construction of the Alhambra. Granada was the only surviving bastion of Islam in Spain until finally the last Arab king had to relinquish the city to Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492. During those intervening two and a half centuries, the city reached a cultural zenith. The Spanish further enriched Granada with splendid Renaissance and baroque buildings for nearly another century before the city's importance began to decline.
Both Ferdinand and Isabella chose to be buried here because they considered the conquest of Granada their crowning achievement.

The Catholic monarchs Isobel of Castile and Fernando of Aragón entered Granada in 1492 and actually inhabited the Alhambra for a time. They restored some rooms and converted the mosque, but left the palace unaltered. By the 18th Century the Casa Real was used as a prison and in 1812 it was taken and occupied by Napoleon’s forces. They looted and damaged whole sections of the Palace and while retreating tried to blow up the whole complex. A wounded soldier who stayed behind and destroyed the fuses and thwarted the destruction of one of the most visited and admired monuments in the world.

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