Situated on a hilltop overlooking the city of Granada, surrounded by a spectacular backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains, The Alhambra integrates natural site qualities with multilevel plateaus, structures and gardens. A testament to Moorish culture in Spain, and the skills of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian artisans, craftsmen, and builders of their era.
As you walk through the gardens and patios, and across the different levels of this hilltop fortress, you'll notice that the temperature is cooler than the rest of Granada. This is due to the many ponds and fountains, placed there to ensure a cool interior microclimate. Water is a fundamental design element, and used throughout the site, both for temperature control, and to irrigate the many flowers, plants and other arboreal enhancements, brought here by successive kings and rulers, through the centuries.
Originally constructed as a smaller fortress in 889, it was renovated and rebuilt in the middle of the 11th century, by the Moorish king Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Kingdom of Granada. In 1333, it was converted into a royal palace by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada.
With its many carvings, inscriptions, architectural detailing, the Alhambra is a reflection of the culture of the last centuries of the Moorish rule of Al Andalus. Artists and intellectuals had taken refuge here, as the Reconquista by Reyes Católicos (Spanish Christians) won victories over Al Andalus. Since then, many artists, poets, musicians, writers and film makers have used The Alhambra both for inspiration for their works, and a setting for their stories, poems, and films.
As Spain's most visited monument, millions of visitors come to admire the exquisite beauty of The Alhambra every year, to walk through its many rooms, patios and gardens. So get there early in the morning, to get a good parking space for your motorcycle, and to avoid the crowds.
EL ALBAICIN - THE MEDIEVAL DISTRICT TO THE NORTH
After you have explored The Alhambra on foot, and taken in the many layers of culture and history, you should treat yourself to an evening of walking around El Albaicín, an interesting Moorish village perched on the next hilltop, just north of The Alhambra.
Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you could spend a few hours walking around this beautiful village, which dates bat the 11th century. Take in the spectacular view of The Alhambra from the southern wall of the village, which is particularly good from the viewing point at the Mirador de San Nicolás.
You can ride up to El Albacín by motorbike, park it outside the village and continue on foot, or find a parking space near some of the restaurants, within the village walls. While you're there, you should visit the church of San Salvador, which is built on the remains of a Moorish mosque, as well as Granada's archeological museum.
Calle Real de la Alhambra