Granada and its Alhambra, a gem in Spain’s jewellery box

Terry and I went to Granada this week which is about an hour’s drive north of Nerja. The city was extremely busy as it was the last couple of days before January 6th, the “real Spanish Christmas” when gifts are exchanged. There were people everywhere rushing to get their shopping done. It was quite difficult to walk little Amy Lou in the busy streets of Granada. We had to carry her a lot but we managed and truly enjoyed the city’s incredible energy.

The Albaicín neighborhood and the Alhambra were undoubtedly the highlights of our stay. A friend of ours said that the Alhambra is a gem in Spain’s jewellery box. I would totally agree with this statement. What is the Alhambra you may wonder?

You may have heard that the Alhambra was a palace and fortress complex built for defense purposes by the Moors but it was in fact much more than that. It was truly a city of three parts: the alcazaba (military citadel), the alcázar (the palace) and the medina (the city).

It was originally constructed as a small fortress in 889 on the remains of Roman fortifications, and then largely ignored until 1238 when Mohammed Ben Al-Ahmar, the Nasrid Emirate of Granada started to build the Alhambra we know today. It was converted in a royal palace by Yusuf 1, Sultan of Granada in 1333. I was surprised to learn that the Arab civilization occupying Andalucia called the Moors, occupied Andalucia for over 800 years, a much longer period than most might think.

In 711 the Islamic Moors of Arab and Berber descent in North Africa (Moroccans) crossed the Strait of Gibraltar onto the Iberian Peninsula, and in a series of raids, conquered Christian Hispania. The Christian re-conquered the Andalucia territory in late 1400s, “the Reconquista”, and the Alhambra site became the Royal Court of Ferdinand & Isabella. Throughout the Alhambra city, you can see both Catholic and Moors art and architecture. It is truly fascinating to walk through the fortress and castle and learn how the Sultan lived.

The name Alhambra means “The Red” in Arabic for the sun-dried brick of which the outer walls are built.

The Alhambra is like a book that you can read, mostly stories about Allah and the sentence “the only conqueror is Allah” is carved or etched 9000 times on its wall.

Take a look at these few pictures. Unfortunately, they do not come close to the beauty and grandeur of the site and art. You must plan a trip to experience Granada and its magnificent Alhambra yourself.

We spent 3 days, 2 nights to see Granada and it was just about right. You could do it in one day but you would need to be prepared for a very full day. Make sure to book the Alhambra several days in advance. Some say months but it is easier if you book a 3 hour tour and is well worth the extra money I found.

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