The Alhambra and the Generalife

The Alhambra and the Generalife

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The Alhambra is a unique self-contained hill-top city, developed from a military fortification through many centuries by Andalusian Arabs.  Its timeless beauty reflects the essence of the past and gives an unforgettable splendor to the city of Granada today. To fully understand the Alhambra, several…

The Alhambra is a unique self-contained hill-top city, developed from a military fortification through many centuries by Andalusian Arabs.  Its timeless beauty reflects the essence of the past and gives an unforgettable splendor to the city of Granada today.

To fully understand the Alhambra, several visits are recommended to capture the dramatic play of natural light and shade at different times of day and appreciate the ineffable changes of seasons.

An initial visit reveals a diverse and complex city.  Once inside the Nasrid palaces, the delicate stucco decoration overwhelms. It is hard to define its origins: Indian, Oriental or Moorish? The history books say Hispano-Muslim style.

Throughout the ages the Alhambra has come to signify many things for a diverse public with varied interests. It can be civilian or military architecture, Muslim or Christian history, the city Bonaparte encountered or the one of Washington Irving and the romantic travelers. The Alhambra offers a mystical or esoteric experience to many visitors. Its quintessential landscape is in constant restoration. Gardeners, decorators, architects, engineers and designers come from all over the world, looking for inspiration.  No visitor leaves disappointed.



Purchase Alhambra entrance tickets

The Alhambra official website:

The Nasrid palaces are the highlight of any visit to the Alhambra.  However the entrances are timed and strictly monitored, permitting 300 people to enter every 30 minutes during daytime opening hours.  Visitors arriving after their assigned time slot will not be allowed to enter the palaces.  They may visit the rest of the Alhambra buildings and the Generalife palace and gardens at their leisure.

Ticket options

  1. General Alhambra ticket: allows visitors to enter everything within the complex during opening hours.
  2. Garden Ticket: Provides unlimited entrance to all areas excluding the Nasrid palaces during opening hours. This includes the Generalife and its outstanding summer palace, the Partal garden, the Secano area and the fortress gardens.
  3. Night tickets: Visit the Nasrid palaces by night.
  4. Dobla de Oro tickets: Includes entrances to the Alhambra and Generalife complex plus other interesting monuments in Granada.


Some further information to plan your tour:

Opening times:  The Alhambra opens daily at 8:30h and closes depending on the season, at 18:00h or 20:00h. Closed on Christmas Day, New Years Day.

Alhambra by day:

Autumn -Winter:  October 15th – March 31st.  08.30h –  18:00h

Spring-Summer:  April 1st to October 14th.  08.30h – 20:00h


Alhambra by night :

A 90 minute visit of the Nasrid Palaces. In the summer, the visitor can also visit the Generalife gardens.

Autumn-Winter: October 15th -March 31st. Fridays and Saturdays only: 20:00h – 21:30h.

Spring-Summer: April 1st to October 14th. Tuesday to Saturday: 22:00h – 23:30h




Entrance gate: Puerta de la Justicia:  Oldest Alhambra gate that is open to all. An impressive entrance built for defense during the Middle Ages, horseshoe arch .

Main Street: Real de la Alhambra:  Walk on this main street between the two major gates, known as Alhambra royal street.

Santa María de la Alhambra Church:  Originally site of the Alhambra’s main mosque, it became Granada’s first Cathedral.  The mosque was demolished to make room for Carles V palace and this  actual church was built.  It is named for Granada’s patron saint:  Santa María of the Alhambra or Virgin Mary of the Anguish.

Charles V Palace: This massive construction, the first Renaissance building in Granada was ordered by Emperor Charles V.  Dominating the adjacent Nasrid palaces, it is a clear statement of Christian power yet was never used by the Monarch.

Alhambra Hispano-Muslim museum:  The museum is on the ground floor of Charles V palace. It is an excellent collection of rare and delicate objects from the Muslim period.  The fascinating permanent exhibition is displayed in chronological order and features coins, books, valuable ceramic, toys, woodwork.

Granada Museum of Fine Arts:  Located on the upper floor of the Palace,  this collection includes Grenadine paintings and sculptures from 15th to 20th century, indicating the Christian heritage of Granada.

Puerta del Vino or Vine Gate:  Once the main entrance to the civilian city,  it became the wine-sellers space after the Christian arrival.

Plaza de los Aljibes: A pleasant open square with well tended gardens. There are panoramic views of the Albaicín and the military towers of the Alcazaba.  A refreshment kiosk is located in the center, where bocadillos, coffee or cold drinks are available. Public toilet facilities are close by.

Hotel America:  This old 18th century family home became a charming family pension in 1936. It was converted into a family hotel during the 80s.  Tasty snacks are available in its flower filled courtyard.

The Parador of San Francisco:  Originally a Nasrid palace, the building was given to the Franciscan monks by the Catholic Monarchs and remained a Convent for centuries. Converted into a Parador, a state run luxury hotel in the 20th century, the fascinating Arab and Christian history is  intermingled inside its walls.  The view from the café on the outside terrace of the Albaicin and Generalife palace is spectacular.

Visit guide from 12€

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Generalife gardens
It is a splendid green hilly space shaped in terraces next to the Alhambra citadel. It can be seen as a beautiful incline garden with a fantastic twentieth century baroque garden, running water fountains and at the end a long shaped white palace. Remaining of old historical vegetable gardens and a wide summer theatre for summer night shows. Imagine a real vision of a Paradise to be enjoyed.
Inside of the Alhambra
We have to think of the Alhambra as a whole royal city developed in different centuries. The essence belongs to the Muslim period. Imagine the Alhambra shaped as a ship and form by different quarters.
The Alcazaba
Is the bow of the ship. The oldest part of the complex and was built as a military fortress on 11th century, oriented to become Granada’s best defense.
The industrial section
Is the stern of the Alhambra. Where most of the workshops used to be placed and where most of the construction material, ceramic and further craftsmanship was produced. It is the highest part of the citadel.
The Medina
The Medina was the space where the craft men and their families used to have their homes crossed by the main street. -A Medina city center provided a main mosque, baths, functionary homes and shops for daily purchase. The mosque was replaced by Santa Maria´s church and next to it the enormous renaissance Charles V palace.
Nasrid Palaces
Behind Charles V palace, in a lower level, is where the Nasrid palaces from 14th century, are to be found. The royal residences an the ambassadors palace.
Partal Gardens
Was the noble neighborhood joining the palaces. Nowadays a new garden open to show its beauty and landscape. Something for the end, to finish with the best unforgettable remembrance of this unique space called Alhambra.

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