A Virtual Tour of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain
Have you ever been somewhere that was so incredible you didn’t feel like you were actually there? That’s exactly how I felt while walking through the Alhambra in Granada, Andalusia, Spain. Even now looking through photos it’s hard for me to believe it is real – and I was there!
While Granada was not my favorite stop on our 8 city, 4 country journey, the Alhambra was one of the most impressive places we went. A bit of history via Wikipedia – The Alhambra was built in AD 889 (as an American, I can’t even wrap my mind around buildings being this old) as a fortress, eventually being converted into a palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada.
The Alhambra integrates natural site qualities with constructed structures and gardens, and is a testament to Moorish culture in Spain and the skills of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian artisans, craftsmen, and builders of their era (Source: Wikipedia).
The Alhambra reflects a melding of cultures and architectural styles into one jaw-dropping fortress that sees millions of visitors every year. You do have to buy a ticket to visit, but if you’re going to be in Granada, it is worth every penny. Note: there are different tickets that will let you into more areas, so make sure you get one that allows you to see everything! We did not get to see the Nasrid Palaces because we bought the cheaper ticket.
I should mention that Kevin and I are both the worst with directions and get lost pretty easily when we aren’t familiar with the area. We had no idea which direction to go when we first walked in. The small map we had shows arrows of suggested routes so we started with that (shown below).
The Alhambra is enormous and sprawls across over 35 acres. We walked all over the places without much direction. If I went again I would spend a bit more time checking the map beforehand so I don’t miss anything. You can click here for an interactive map to help you navigate!
After walking down the walkway lined with Cypress trees (orange arrow on right of map), we turned left and walked down that path towards the Alcazaba (black arrow at end of orange arrow). Along the way is a section of the path lined with hedges that have windows cleanly cut out of them – perfect frames for a photo of the beautiful building!
Continuing to walk towards the Alcazaba, we stopped in the plaza area (13 on the map above) and used the bathrooms there which were very nice and clean. There were also some stands with snacks and vending machines with the usual soda and water, but also machines where you could get a hot coffee/latte.
The photos below show the view from the Plaza de los Ajibes (left) and just inside the doorway of the Torre del Homenaje (right).
The Alcazaba was one of my favorite parts of the entire Alhambra – tied with Generalife (that’s coming, be patient. Or scroll down to skip to it!). The grand views of Granada and feeling so tiny next to the massive structures was a surreal feeling. We walked up the stairs pictured in the photo above (right) and stopped many times to take in the view.
Onto the Alcazaba – we spent a long time meandering around here, going up stairs, looking out over Granada, avoiding tourists listening to their audio guide on full-volume speaker, etc.
In the first photo you see the people on an upper level on the right. If you go up to this level you will get the view of the photo you see on the right.
In the 3rd and 4th photos are the views you get if you walk up the stairs of the large building in the center of the first photo – Torre de la Vela, 17 on the map. The view from here is incredible and worth the extra time walking up the seemingly endless spiral staircase.
Some photogenic archways in this area. The stairs are narrow so people can’t go up at the same time people are coming down – you may have to wait a bit until the stairway clears.
We continued walking down the path through the Jardín de los Adarves (19 on the map) back towards the entrance we entered through and popped out at the plaza again. From here we went into Palacio de Carlos V (11 on the map) and walked around the pillared center.
From this palace, there is some way to get to the Nasrid Palaces, but since our tickets did not include this (we were on a TIGHT budget and didn’t want to spend the extra $7/ticket), we went all the way back the way we came and headed to the Generalife.
We couldn’t figure out how to get to the Palacio del Partal y Oratorio without going through the Nasrid Palaces or going the wrong direction (there were signs saying “wrong way” for crowd control). If you can figure this out or have tickets that include the Nasrid Palaces, do that part before walking the long walk to Generalife.
Below are the photos of our lovely walk towards the Patio de la Acequia.
We first arrived around 9 or 10am, but didn’t get to Generalife until at least a couple hours later. It started getting very crowded (and this was in the off-season of February) around noon which is when we walked through Generalife. The Patio de la Acequia had a narrow walkway around the center water feature which was pretty crowded with people. The spot I am standing for the photos below had a mass of people all trying to take the same shot – just so you know ahead of time!
View from the other side of the Patio de la Acequia.
We continued on the path through the Patio de la Sultana, which I don’t seem to have photos of, even though it’s beautiful. From there you’ll go up/down (my memory is failing me) the Escalera del Agua which I also do not have photos of. We were getting a bit annoyed with the crowds by this time. After walking through these areas, we ended up on a path lined with trees and sweeping views where you can see the Palacio del Partal y Oratoria – which is where we are heading next.
We went backwards to get to this area as mentioned before, despite signs saying it was the wrong way. We couldn’t figure out how else we were suppose to get here! Kevin set up his easel and painted while I relaxed on a park bench and enjoyed the views and resting my feet after walking around for hours. It was one of the most beautiful areas, but so was every other area of the Alhambra.
Plus, there were some bonus feral kitties here! They did not want people getting close, so these photos are pretty zoomed in – respect their space.
Hope you enjoyed your own virtual walk-through and get to visit this place yourself one day! If you’re going to be in Spain, it is definitely worth a stop in Granada to spend the day at the Alhambra. There is so much interesting history I couldn’t possibly include in all, but if you want to learn more you can visit this website for more info.