If someone asked me ‘What is the most beautiful human made structure you have ever seen?’ I would answer ‘The Alhambra Palace’. A masterpiece of architecture and Islamic art, it is one of the main reasons people come to Andalusia; even the story has a sad ending it hasn’t lost its elegance during all these years. The legend says that when the last ruler of Andalusia, Boabdil, retreated to exile and turned to have one final look at Granada he cried and his mother said “You weep like a woman for what you could not defend as a man."
Situated on top of a hill, in ninth century a little fortress was built on the remains of Roman ruins. Then in thirteenth century, the ruler of the Nasri Dynasty, Muhammed ben Ahmar, started to build a royal palace on the same site. After the ‘reconquista’ catholic kings Fernando and Isabel used the same palace as Royal Courtyard.
Hambra, meaning ‘red’ in Arabic, is the colour of the palace from the exterior, in fact it takes several colours through the sunlight. The palaces are simple from the outside, yet you will find tons of details inside them. The square shaped buildings containing several halls opening to a courtyard always with fountains, the wood crafting on ceilings, colourful tiles with geometrical shapes, Arabic verses on the walls from the Koran, the smell of the jasmine flowers, the palaces are an incredible work of art and architecture. You will truly admire them. The gardens which are located on the hill next to the palaces, which can be visited with the same ticket, are named Generalife and are quite big as well.
Alhambra tickets need to be purchased long time before your visit, any time of the year it is packed with visitors. For the most famous Nasrid palaces (with the lions fountains in the courtyard;) you need to confirm also the time of your visit as a limited number of visitors can only be accepted inside them. Do not forget to check before you go.
Right across the hill where Alhambra is situated is the neighbourhood of Albaicin, another Unesco site like Alhambra. It is a well protected neighbourhood with narrow cobblestone streets, white coloured walls, a perfect view of the Alhambra and the big Mosque of Granada built by contemporary Muslim community.