Granada’s Alhambra: the magic of the Thousand and One Nights in Andalusia
Discover the splendour of the Sultans of ancient Al-Andalus and experience the magical world of the Thousand and one Nights in the gardens and patios of the Alhambra. It is one of the most beautiful monumental sites ever built by man, and Spain’s most visited.
The Alhambra and Generalife together form an impressive monumental site, built atop a red-coloured hill that dominates the city and plain of Granada. The Alhambra was once home to the Al-Andalus Sultans and today it is Spain’s most visited monument. Every year, millions of visitors come to admire the exquisite beauty of its many rooms, patios and gardens.
Everything in the Alhambra was designed to reach perfection: from the ancient “Alcázar”, or military fortress, to the Royal Nasrid Palaces, decorated in plaster and tile work, with inscriptions from the Koran that evoke the notion of Heaven on Earth. The famous Patio de los Leones (Lions’ Patio) or the Cámara de la Sultana (Sultana’s Chamber) are examples of this poetic architecture that feeds the imagination.
Besides its intricate decoration, water is a fundamental element, ever-present and used throughout the site as if it were another architectural tool. The whisper of fresh water from the Alhambra’s numerous fountains and ponds create a cool interior microclimate: you will notice the difference in temperature between this magical site and the rest of Granada.
Next to the Palaces, on the slopes of the “Cerro del Sol” (Hill of the Sun) you will find the Generalife. The site is surrounded by intimate gardens that provide a sense of peace and calm, with an abundance of different flowers whose scent will overwhelm you. Here it is well worth taking a moment to sit, rest and enjoy the shimmering tones of light reflected in a host of water features.
Granada’s Andalusí heritage can also be experienced at the mirador (viewpoint) de San Nicolás located in the old Moorish Albaicín neighbourhood. This is the local people’s favourite spot to look out over the Alhambra, jewel of the Nasrid kingdom. As the sun sets, the palatial citadel is at its very best, seeming to emerge from the mountainside – an imposing image, difficult to forget.
After visiting the Alhambra you must stay on in Granada. The streets and squares of one of Andalusia’s most important cities, brimming with history and culture, are as seductive as its happy-go-lucky people and exquisite cuisine. Tapas, fried fish or gazpacho are some of Granada’s specialities, which you could follow by a visit to a flamenco show or by simply soaking up the city’s lively nightlife.
Less than 100 kilometres from the city you can have a dip in the warm Mediterranean waters of the Costa Tropical (Tropical Coast). This region has warm temperatures practically all year round. Furthermore, the snowy peaks of Sierra Nevada, set within a National Park of the same name, are a unique destination for skiing in winter as well as all kinds of mountain activities, like hiking, in the summer.
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