The Alhambra in Granada, Spain

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In Granada, there is a palace and fortress complex which is unique in its mix of Islamic and Christian influences.  It’s called the Alhambra which means the red fort in arabic.  As with a lot of places I’ve been to on my travels, it’s a UNESCO protected world heritage site.  Due to preservation efforts, only a couple thousand people are allowed to enter each day.  Tickets are sold out online for a week or two in advance, even in late December.  It’s a must-see for Granada, and thought I would have to miss it, but I inquired at the visitor center about tickets and was told they reserve 200 tickets every day for people who show up early in the morning.  Once they’re gone, they’re gone, and you have to try again the next day.  On a day that had a forecast for good weather, I woke up early in the morning, and trekked up this big hill to the entrance.  I had to wait in line a bit, and was worried I wouldn’t get in before the 200 cutoff point for non reservation, but I made it and was definitely glad.

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Its original outer walls were built as a fortress around 900 AD.  Over the centuries and various changes in rule over the area, new construction added other palaces and churches .  The complex was originally under control of the Spanish Moors who were Muslim inhabitants of Southern Spain and parts of Northern Africa during medieval times.  In 1492, the Alhambra was captured by the christian kings.  Churches were added to the grounds, but the original islamic art and architecture was preserved.  The complex eventually fell into disrepair, but in recent decades has undergone a lot of restoration.  It’s really an amazingly beautiful place.

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The Hall of Lions.  This was a pretty cool space in the main palace grounds.  The mix of marble, fountains, and garden space  creates this tranquil vibe that you just want to hangout in and absorb.  I took a ton of photos of that space, but tried to summarize it with just four…IMG_3802IMG_3813IMG_3805IMG_3810

The remainder of the palace, gardens and grounds.IMG_3819IMG_3818IMG_3823 IMG_3828 IMG_3838 IMG_3849IMG_3855IMG_3862IMG_3872IMG_3880IMG_3921IMG_3923IMG_3936

I think I spent around four hours there that day.  The fortress and palace parts were impressive, and not like anything I’ve seen on my travels.  It’s fun walking around there imagining what daily life would have been like.  I have to say, though, I thought the gardens at the Alcazar in Sevilla were more impressive than the ones at the Alhambra.  I guess the highlight of the Alhambra isn’t the garden anyhow.  Granada isn’t a very big city, and the Alhambra dominates the scenery, so it’s something you have to see in that area.  If you’re planning a visit, I’d book tickets online a few weeks ahead of time so you dont have to get up super early and hope a ticket is waiting for you at the gate 🙂

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