The Alhambra, one of many Spanish royal palaces, sits on top of a mountain overlooking the city of Granada. It is the last standing medieval Arabic palace in the world and has been preserved as well as possible over the years.
Spain was ruled by the Arabic empire for hundreds of years, and this palace was originally constructed by Muslim rulers. Granada was the last city in Spain to be conquered by the Christians, so this palace was under Arab rule for a long time. Once the Christians took over, they decided to preserve the palace, adding on here and there of course. But the majority of the beautiful architecture here can be attributed to the Arabian rulers.
Like dumb tourists, my friend and I didn’t bother to research how to actually get to the top of the giant hill. We just plugged the location into google maps and walked all the way up the hill in the freezing mist. Halfway up the hill we stopped, wheezing from the intense climb, and a mini Alhambra bus zoomed past us on its way to the top of the hill.
Yes of course there are shuttle buses. We should have figured that out. But even if we had, we still may have made the hike. One euro is a lot of money to a broke college student.
Once we finally got to the top and found our tour group (in English this time, so most of my information is likely accurate), we got our tickets and then sat around in the rain for another half hour. Hooray! My tour guide said that about 7,000 people visit the Alhambra every day, so we had to wait our turn to enter.
The first place we visited once we finally entered was an abandoned palace. It’s in use now as a museum of sorts, but for hundreds of years nobody lived in it. The king that built it never returned to Granada, and nobody after him ever wanted to live there. Talk about feeling unwanted.
Apparently it didn’t even have a roof until sometime in the past hundred years. Fun fact: it’s the only building in the world that is square on the outside and circular on the inside, like a confused piece of toast trying to be a bagel.
I’m confused as to why people wouldn’t have wanted to live here. I would definitely live here, even pre-roof construction. It’d be much roomier than my college dorm.
After we left the sad, rejected building, we moved on to an indoor area. Here I learned that most of the palace is made up of marble floors, wooden ceilings, colorful, patterned ceramic tiles, and super intricate stucco (plaster) wall designs.
The majority of the stucco used to be painted with vibrant colors like red, blue, yellow, white, etc., so this building must have been 1000000 times more beautiful back when it was built. Now it’s all faded to a white-ish gray color. And the same thing happened to the outdoor walls of the palace, which used to be whitewashed and are now a reddish brown color.
We walked past a super reflective pool that has some religious significance and makes for a beautiful picture. I was disappointed to learn that swimming was not allowed. So much for that Insta picture idea.
Then we walked outside and -CATS-
I think Alhambra is actually supposed to be pronounced “heaven” with all of its cute kitty residents. There are a bunch of cats just chillin’ in the garden. They are descendants of the royal kitties that first lived in the castle.
Of course I tried to befriend one, but I don’t think they enjoy the presence of vile peasants like myself.
Back into the palace and away from my feline friends I went *tear, tear,* entering the room that was used for political stuff. The sultan would have sat in this room, discussing important political things like building walls, banning immigrants and such.
Oh wait. That’s modern day stuff. I don’t know what political problems were like back then. They were probably more logical, like trying to decide which pieces of land to conquer next, or which trade route to China was the least dangerous.
There are religious poems written all over the walls of the Alhambra, but one saying repeats itself literally everywhere.
It means “There is no victor but Allah” and is repeated hundreds, probably thousands of times all throughout the palace.
The coolest room in the whole place was definitely the queen’s bedroom. And I mean that in both senses of the word cool: teeth-chattering chilly and “que guay” awesome. In the olden days the upstairs rooms were used during the winter months because heat rises. And in the summer they’d live in the downstairs portion because it was colder. Science!
The queen had the best view around, and could see all of Granada from her window. Oh, it’s good to be queen! But you can’t see Granada from the window anymore because the pesky Christian conquerors built an ugly building blocking the view.
We went into the new addition, and the whole time our tour guide complained about how ugly it was in comparison to the parts of the palace that the Arabs built. He was definitely right. The sections constructed by the Christians were very plain in comparison. I didn’t even take any pictures it was so unspectacular.
Onto the gardens we went; unfortunately not the same gardens with the cats. These gardens had some pretty awesome pools with fountains, all powered by gravity.
And finally, inside the gardens were breath-taking views of the entire city of Granada. Definitely worth the money and time spent in the chilly rain.