Alhambra: One Of Granada’s Many Treasures

by Kaitlin Powers

Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains and at the meeting point of three major rivers, Granada is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. There are so many sights to see, ranging from old caves that are now used as venues for flamenco dance shows to its famous cathedral. Studying abroad in Granada ensures a great look into Spanish culture. One of the most impressive and noteworthy sights to see during your international education is the Alhambra.

The Court of Lions on the grounds of Alhambra de Granada. One of the main attractions to visit while studying abroad in Spain.
The Court of Lions on the grounds of Alhambra de Granada. One of the main attractions to visit while studying abroad in Spain. Photo by Kaitlin Powers

The incredible structure was initially constructed in 889 as a fortress, then later was altered to be a royal palace for members of the Muslim court. In 1492, following the Reconquista by the Catholic Monarchs, the Alhambra was utilized by Christian rulers. This change in ownership between Muslims and Christians can be seen in its development. There is Arab Islamic architecture, including arches, ceiling decorations, and calligraphy, as well as Christian influence seen in fountains, streams, and gardens.

Court of the Lions

One of the most significant parts of the Alhambra is the Patio de los Leones, or the Court of the Lions. The Fountain of Lions is found in the middle of this courtyard, and the entire courtyard is surrounded by 124 marble columns. The columns hold up a cream-colored ceiling that is covered in stucco and intricate designs, which shows off traditional Muslim architecture.  

Court of the Myrtles

Another significant portion of the Alhambra is the Patio de los Arrayanes, or the Court of the Myrtles. This outdoor courtyard has a long rectangular pool that stretches almost 112 feet from one end to the other. It is fed by a fountain on each end. It is filled with eye-catching, picturesque, emerald green water. On either end of the pool are columns and archways with lattice-like patterns by the ceiling.

Watch Tower

The third important element of the Alhambra is the Torre de la Vela, or the Watch Tower. This 4-story Watch Tower provides a breathtaking view over the entire city of Grenada and the Sierra Nevada mountains. You can climb up the levels and overlook the remains of old soldier houses inside the Plaza de Armas (Arms Square), and also get close to the bell that was used to signal to farmers that it was time to water their crops. The legend today is that any single woman who rings the bell will get married before the end of the year. The landscape from the top of the Watch Tower is the perfect place to take pictures, so bring a camera and a smile!

Generalife

Generalife

Generalife

Another portion of the Alhambra that is particularly important is the Generalife. The Generalife is a summer palace that was built for the kings among 13 beautiful gardens, fountains, ponds, plants, and flowers. Walking through the gardens feels like a different world. The maze of tall, trimmed bushes, oversized flower beds, and flowing fountains will make you feel as if you are miles away from city life. The Generalife is one of the oldest Moorish gardens that are still preserved and intact today, yet it also has contemporary updates to reflect traditional Granadian gardens.

The Alhambra is one of the most important sights to visit when spending time in Granada. It can be seen high in the mountains from almost anywhere in the city, and it only gets more amazing the closer you are to it. Take time to visit the Alhambra and explore the ruins of the city that used to live inside of the castle walls. Learn more about the history and the different influences that played a part in the construction and preservation of each room. Take beautiful pictures and make wonderful memories. The Alhambra is a gorgeous piece of history no one should miss.