Explore Alhambra in Granada: Highlights, Getting There and More

In Granada, Alhambra stands as a stunning example of Moorish architecture and Andalusian history. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, with intricate Islamic art, Generalife gardens and majestic Nasrid Palaces, tells a tale of Spain's rich past. The f...

Also Known As

Qal'at al-Hamra

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Did you know?

The name 'Alhambra' originates from the Arabic term 'Al-Hamra', which means 'the red one', a reference to the reddish walls and towers of the complex.

Washington Irwing, the American author wrote 'Tales of the Alhambra' while actually living in the palace, which has since become a popular literary classic.

Alhambra's Nasrid Palaces feature intricate ‘honeycomb’ ceilings that were designed to symbolize paradise.

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How to buy Alhambra tickets & tours?

Alhambra Skip-the-Line Small-Group Tour with Nasrid Palaces
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3 hr.
Guided tour
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Granada Card with Priority Access to Alhambra
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Flexible duration
Transfers included
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Alhambra Premium Skip-the-Line Guided Tour with Nasrid Palaces
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3 hr.
Guided tour
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Alhambra Surroundings Tour
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1 hr. 45 min.
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What is Alhambra, Granada?

Alhambra in Granada is a medieval palace complex, known for its intricate Moorish architecture, scenic gardens, and rich history. Since of 1984 it has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On this page you will find information about Alhambra’s history, architecture, highlights and all you need to know about visiting Alhambra.

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What to do at Alhambra, Granada

Alhambra Granada
Alhambra Granada
Alhambra Granada
Alhambra Granada

Explore Charles V’s Palace

The Palace of Charles V is a Renaissance-style palace built inside the Alhambra complex in the 16th century. It was commissioned by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. It features a circular courtyard and houses the Alhambra Museum. There is also an entrance for visitors with pre-booked tickets, which is located on the west side of the complex near the Charles V Palace.

Alhambra Granada

Attend events at Alhambra

The Alhambra hosts a variety of cultural events and concerts. Symphony concerts have been held in Charles V's Palace dating back to 1883. The Granada International Music and Dance Festival is being held in 2024, in and around the Alhambra. It features symphonies and dance performances drawing over 30,000 attendees annually.

Alhambra Granada

Wander the complex and appreciate the architecture

Finally, take your time exploring the site and admiring the many details of the intricate Islamic architecture and design. From the delicate carvings to the vibrant tile patterns, every corner of the Alhambra offers something to admire and appreciate.

History of Alhambra, Granada in a nutshell

  • 12th Century: Alhambra was built primarily between 1238 and 1358, during the reigns of Ibn al-Amar, the founder of the Nasrid dynasty, and his successors, on a plateau that overlooks the city of Granada.
  • 13th century: The Nasrid dynasty expanded Alhambra of Granada, transforming it into a palace complex and the royal residence of the Emirs of Granada.
  • Over several centuries: Under the Nasrid dynasty's rule, Alhambra underwent expansion, with additional palaces, gardens, and fortifications added. Intricate Islamic art became more visible in the palaces with stucco work, ceramic tiles, and wood carvings heavily featuring in the medieval Islamic architecture and design.
  • 1492: The Catholic Monarchs, Isabel, and Ferdinand conquer Granada and take control of Alhambra. They make alterations, including adding a chapel, but largely preserve the Islamic elements, establishing Alhambra as one of Europe's best-preserved examples of Islamic architecture.
  • 19th century: Alhambra is rediscovered by European travelers and scholars after centuries of neglect. Restoration efforts commenced, leading to its opening to the public and designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
  • Present day: Alhambra attracts millions of visitors annually and serves one of Spain’s most popular attractions.

Architecture & design of Alhambra, Granada

Comprising several palaces, such as the Palacios Nazaríes, the complex is centered around courtyards, each distinguished by unique features.  

The Court of the Lions stands out with its central fountain supported by twelve marble lions.

The Generalife gardens, located within the complex, feature stunning fountains, flowers, and fruit trees, all carefully arranged to create a peaceful oasis within the palace.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Alhambra Granada

Alhambra was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 due to its exceptional cultural significance. Alhambra’s palaces, gardens, and fortresses showcase the artistic and technological achievements of the Nasrid dynasty, which ruled Granada from the 13th to the 15th century.

Beyond its architectural beauty, the Alhambra embodies the diverse cultural heritage of Spain, reflecting the interactions between Muslim, Christian, and Jewish communities during the medieval period. Its preservation ensures that the legacy of Al-Andalus, the medieval Islamic kingdom of Spain, is safeguarded for future generations to explore and appreciate.

Frequently asked questions about Alhambra in Granada

Who designed the Alhambra?

Alhambra was not designed by a single architect or designer. Instead, the complex was built and expanded over the course of several centuries by different rulers of the Nasrid dynasty, who brought their own ideas and influences to the design and construction of the site. The earliest parts of the Alhambra, including the Alcazaba fortress, were built in the 9th century by the Moors, while the palaces and gardens that make up the bulk of the complex were constructed between the 13th and 15th centuries under the Nasrid dynasty.

How many entrances does Alhambra, Granada have?

Alhambra, Granada has several entrances, each providing access to different parts of the complex. The main entrance is known as the Puerta de las Granadas or the Gate of Pomegranates, which is located on the north side of the complex and leads to the Generalife gardens. Another entrance is Puerta de la Justicia,  located on the south side of the complex and leads to the Alcazaba fortress. There is also an entrance for visitors with pre-booked tickets, which is located on the west side of the complex near the Charles V Palace.

How long does it take to explore Alhambra?

A typical visit to the Alhambra can take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, depending on the extent of exploration and interest in details.

Is it necessary to hire a guide to visit the Alhambra?

While not necessary, hiring a guide can enhance the experience by providing historical context and insights into the architecture and significance of the various sites within the complex.

Can I take photographs inside the Alhambra?

Photography is allowed in most areas of the Alhambra, but flash photography may be restricted in certain sections to preserve the delicate artwork and artifacts.

What is the best time of day to visit Alhambra?

The best time to visit the Alhambra is early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds and heat, especially during the summer months. Additionally, visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn can provide pleasant weather and fewer tourists.

Is there wheelchair access available at the Alhambra?

Yes, the Alhambra is wheelchair accessible, with ramps and elevators provided in certain areas to accommodate visitors with mobility issues. However, some parts of the complex, such as the Alcazaba fortress, may have limited accessibility due to uneven terrain and steps.

Are there any restrictions on what can be brought into the Alhambra?

Yes, there are restrictions on large bags, backpacks, and umbrellas, which must be stored in designated areas before entering the Alhambra. Additionally, food and drinks are not allowed inside the monument, although there are cafes and restaurants available on-site.

What should I bring with me when visiting the Alhambra?

It's advisable to bring essentials such as comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, a hat, and a bottle of water, especially during the warmer months. Additionally, don't forget your camera or smartphone to capture the stunning views and architecture.