Europe, Spain

Granada Day 4: Alhambra

December 24-28, 2020

December 27th was our second to last day in Granada, and our day dedicated to the most famous site in the city: the Alhambra.

The tickets were 14€, and we had purchased them the day before. When you buy tickets, you have to indicate your entry time into one of the main buildings, the Nasrid Palace. We had selected 10 AM. This is to regulate the amount of people in this building at a time, and even pre-COVID, this was the practice.

The Alhambra would the core of today’s adventure. This is the site to see in Granada, and even a quick visit will take most of the day. We spent over five hours exploring the huge fortress and palace complex and the 35 acres it encompasses. It was constructed as a small fortress in the year 889 and developed into the massive site it is now over several centuries. Built on the remains on Roman fortifications, it was later renovated in the 13th century under Arab rule and became a royal palace in 1333.

After the Catholic Reconquista (1492), it became Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella. This is is the site where Christopher Columbus received his royal endorsement for his voyage. The Catholic Monarchs expanded the palace in renaissance architecture style. The next monarch to live there, King Charles V, added additional buildings to the palace as well under a similar style. The Alhambra was greatly damaged during the French Domination in the early 1800s and took three generations of architects to restore it.

Gabrielle studied Spanish culture and history in college, so she had a lot of insight that was quite helpful in understanding the buildings, their purpose, and the eras they came from. If you don’t know much about Spanish history, I’d suggest getting a tour guide or doing some heavy research ahead of time. It will give a lot more meaning to what you’re seeing.

We started our day at Starbucks, and missed the 9:15 AM bus we intended to take. We got out quickly and aimed for the 9:34 AM.

It didn’t arrive until closer to 9:40 AM, and it was a 15 minute ride to the Alhambra. At this point, I was a bit stressed and Gabrielle was quite irritated. And then things took a turn for the worse: I had gotten us on a bus going the opposite direction. The buses here didn’t have the indication on the screen which way they were going. It just said C34, which was the bus we needed. When in fact, we needed the C34 one block over. So, at this point, stress continued to rise. We had been told they are extremely strict on the entrance time into the Palace, and this is a can’t-miss building. We brainstormed options, which included buying a second ticket for later in the day or the next day, neither of which seemed desirable. We took the bus the full route and got back to our starting point at 10 AM. Then, I got us a taxi to take us directly to the entrance of Alhambra.

When we arrived, we let the entrance staff know that our Nasrid ticket was for 10 AM. It was 10:15 AM at this point. We asked if we could change our time, and they said no. We then asked about buying a second ticket for the same day but choosing a new time. They seemed confused, and we said, “We missed our time.” They told us we could go ahead, we should just hurry and we had to get in during our slot (10-10:30). They actually let us pass through a long line of people waiting for their tickets to be scanned. The Alhambra is huge, like bigger than I can explain. It took about 20 minutes just to walk to the Nasrid Palace. At this point, we had two more security checkpoints to go through, and we were nervous the next set of staff might not be so lenient with our ticket times. I think with so few people visiting compared to pre-COVID, there was a lot more flexibility. They let us through, and we finally took a big sigh of relief.

The Nasrid Palace is made up of three parts, and we spent almost two hours just in this one segment of the Alhambra.

Next, we headed to the Palace of Generalife, which was a summer palace for the Nasrid rulers. There were quite a few royal gardens, and it was worth the hike up there.

We walked through the Alcazaba part of the Alhambra, which was much smaller than the Alcazaba we had visited in Málaga. This was likely my favorite part of Alhambra because of the amazing views of Granada we had. It was many stairs to climb to get to the different towers, but it was worth it.

I only took a few short videos during our day there, which won’t do it much justice. Regardless, I’ll still share it here for the mems.

After, we got takeout Thai food on the way back to the hostal and settled in for the evening. We were quite tired with very sore legs. The highlight of the evening was this demonic washing machine in the hostal that I used. We were a room away and could feel the room shaking at the power of this thing. I did not want to be in the same room as it because I was convinced it was going to explode. Videos are on my Instagram @wanderlustadventures97

We spent a few hours reflecting on the day, and then heading to bed in preparation of our last day in Granada.

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