The Palace of Alhambra, along with Prado, Escorial and Sagrada Familia, can be considered one of the most important sights of Spain. The halls, courts and gardens of Alhambra are as magnificent that you may spend on them the entire day and you will constantly find something new and curious.
The Arabs who had conquered Spain in VIII century remained in the country for several centuries. Unlike the rest of Europe, living in «dark Middle Ages», architecture, science, literature and philosophy actively developed in Spain. It was just thanks to the Arabs that many works of ancient authors was preserved in those times. Alhambra is the most impressive ex-ample of Arab architecture in Spain.
The Palace of Alhambra (Arab for Red Palace) is rather an unassailable fortress. And it isn’t surprising as you couldn’t do without strong fortifications in XIII century, when the first buildings were erected. Alhambra was both military headquarters and caliph`s residence of the Nasride dynasty who ruled over Cordoba and then Granada Caliphate for over 4 centuries.
American writer Washington Irving gave quite a neat description of Alhambra: «From out-side Alhambra looks as a conglomerate of roofs and towers having not a hint of architectural grace, but inside you will be faced with beauty and charm.» Alhambra is located on the Sabic Hill towering above Granada, and indeed, when you approach it you see nothing but a multi-tude of various constructions of different styles against the background of snowy-white mountains of Sierra Nevada.
After Reconquest Alhambra was extended by Catholic monarchs but, of course, the largest attraction of Alhambra is in its older part – Alcazaba and surrounding palace constructions. It is a complex of luxurious gardens, and comfortable patios. The buildings have such a design as if they swing open to the outside. In other words, these patios are integral parts of residential buildings.
The most famous courts of Alhambra are the Lion`s Court and Myrtle Court with Comares Tower. In fact, Lion`s Court is the most recognizable view of Alhambra so named because of the fountain featuring 12 stone lions. The walls of surrounding buildings are all covered with «stalactites» of fine carving. The court is surrounded by a gallery supported on 124 columns.
Myrtle Court also known as Patio de Alberca (Yard of the Blessing or Yard of the Pond), is represented by perfect proportions and clear lines of the pond, evergreen myrtle bushes, and walls dominated by the Comares Tower, the tallest tower in Alhambra (45 meters).
Almost everywhere you can see picturesque gardens: Partal and Generalife (also called the ‘Garden of Architect’), the latter being the most wonderful garden of Alhambra. They were planted in XIV century on the hill dominating the palaces of Alhambra. There are many solitary pavilions and canals with tens of fountains.
If you decided to go to Alhambra during May - October, you should reserve tickets via Internet (you may do it at the web-site www.alhambra-tickets.es). This will make it possible to carefully plan your trip to Alhambra and go there on time for your appointed tour. Otherwise, you can only buy tickets for tours beginning in several hours or even on the next day. There are virtually no big queues even at high season, as all tickets are usually bought out in advance, however, if you go there in winter, you have a good chance to buy a ticket just upon your arrival.