I gave myself up, during my sojourn in the Alhambra, to all the romantic and fabulous traditions connected with the pile. I lived in the midst of an Arabian tale, and shut my eyes, as much as possible, to every thing that called me back to every-day life; and if there is any country in Europe where one can do so, it is in poor, wild, legendary, proud-spirited, romantic Spain; where the old magnificent barbaric spirit still contends against the utilitarianism of modern civilization.Washington Irving, on his stay in the Alhambra, 1832
The Nazrid Palaces of the Alhambra, one of the world’s great architectural and cultural treasures, is the pinnacle of Granada’s plentiful touristic offerings.
The very fact of the palace’s survival, let alone its pristine state, is a miracle. Washington Irving, the American author who lived there for months as a guest, relates in his popular collection Tales of the Alhambra a legend about an ancient blessing, carved into the stone entrance, which has protected it over the centuries.
I find it more likely that even the most vicious and intolerant of marauding armies were unable to destroy such beauty.
The Alhambra (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) was built in the mid-14th century by the Moorish rulers of Al-Andalus, who had chosen Granada as their capital. Walking through the palace’s incredible quarters, it’s impossible not to sense 700 years of history encompassing you. The beauty and intricacy of the construction is unreal, but we’ll let the pictures speak to that.
For visitors to Granada, the Nazrid Palaces (palacios nazaríes) are a must-see. But take care: you’ll have to book tickets in advance. A limited number of people are allowed into the grounds at any given time. Once inside, though, you can take your time. Too many people don’t realize this, and show up at the Alhambra hoping to get tickets, only to leave disappointed.