The third and final primary point of interest at the Alhambra is the Alcazaba. Best described as the military area within the palace grounds, Alcazaba is the oldest part of the fortress and has the best position on the hill, overlooking the city. During your trip to Alcazaba, walk to the top of the watchtower for unmatched views of Plaza Nueva, the Albaicín, and the Sierra Nevada mountains beyond. Apart from the watchtower, the Alcazaba holds the Bucket Tower, the Arms Square, the urban military district, the terrace of the Arms Gate and the Ramparts ́ garden. The Alcazaba played an instrumental role in the Andalusian history and a visit to this fortress will help you better understand the culture of Granada.
Major Highlights of the Alcazaba
Puerta de las Armas
While there are many striking viewpoints at the Alcazaba, the Puerta de las Armas is something special. The building features a striking door that has functioned as the primary access to the Alhambra since the 14th century from the San Pedro forest. Puerta de las Armas is one of the main buildings of the Alcazaba and takes up the entire lower level.
Torre del Homenaje
Although this trapezoid enclosure was part of Granada before the Alcazaba, it is a popular part of the Alcazaba. The building was set up during the city's Moorish days and held immense defensive importance due to its impressive altitude. After the Alcazaba walls were strengthened, Torre del Homenaje was converted into an impenetrable fortress. While the structure is quite unremarkable in terms of architecture, it's still pretty impressive.
Torre de la Vela
One of the most recognizable features of the Alcazaba, Torre de la Vela is famous for its flags and bell tower. During the time of the Catholic Monarchs, the tower used to function as the living quarters of the bell ringers. Now, the bell is used by farmers to mark any changes in irrigation cycles. The bell tower has also been replaced and repositioned multiple times. Presently, 4 flags are hosted on the tower: the Andalusian flag, the Grenadian flag, the European flag, and the Spanish flag.
Plaza de las Armas
The official entrance to the Alcazaba, the Plaza de las Armas or the Arms Square comprises of different structures that offered various services to the residents of the fort. A rainwater cistern and a supposed bath lie on either flank of the Plaza de las Armas. In the middle of it, the foundations of several houses were discovered which is believed to belong to the residents.
Plaza de Los Aljibes
The Plaza de Los Aljibes lies in the trench between the Alcazaba and the palaces. The name is derived from the cisterns that were constructed in the square at the end of the 15th century. When these cisterns were buried, they created a large esplanade between the palaces, Puerta del Vino, and Palacio de Carlos V. Visit Plaza de Los Aljibes to witness glorious views of Alhambra, the city, and the Sacromonte.