Nothing can quite compare with the splendour of the Alhambra. This fortress was originally built in 889 AD on top of Roman ruins, but it has since undergone many changes and transformations, housing sultans, kings and queens over the centuries. Located in Granada, the palace complex consists of several buildings and extensive gardens, full of roses, orange trees, tall palms and green hedgerows. Some buildings have been magnificently restored, whilst others stand as excavation sites, allowing your imagination to run wild. Regardless of how you approach The Alhambra, it is an overwhelming experience and an essential stop in southern Spain.
I suggest arriving early, to beat the heat and the crowds. You will need to book in advance to secure a timed entrance to the Nasrid Palace (tickets are available online for 14 euros). The rest of the day can be spent at your leisure, wandering the gardens, exploring Roman baths, fortresses, view points and gardens. We spent six hours in total and you could easily spend longer. Be sure to bring a water bottle, which you can top up with fresh water at drinking fountains. There are small kiosks where you can buy snacks and souvenirs too.
The audio guide is available for purchase at the front gate for those interested in the history of the place, but it is also possible to simply soak in the beauty of it all: the palaces are full of intricately hand-carved wooden doors, walls and ceilings, colourful mosaic floors and tiled walls. Outside, beauty comes in the form of gardens, trickling fountains and breath-taking views framed by pretty archways. While you are in Granada itself, take some time to make your way up to St. Nicholas viewpoint to watch the sun set over the Alhambra (for free).
Here are a few photos to inspire you!
Have you been to the Alhambra? What other palaces around Spain would you recommend visiting?