The Alhambra is located in the Albayzin, or
Arab Quarter of Granada. It was originally built as
a fortress in the 11th century but was transformed by the
Nazrids into a sumptous palace for the Sultan. It's
one of the best examples of Moorish architecture in the world.
What's the history here?
When the Moors came up from Africa in the 8th Century they
successfully occupied Southern Spain for over 700 years, and
developed the most cultured society of medieval Europe. In
1013 Granada became their seat of power and was the last region
in Spain to fall to Christianity.
In 1491, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella
liberated Granada from the Moors. They laid siege to the town
and Boabdil of the Moors eventually decided to surrender.
It is said that part of the reason he gave up Granada without
a fight was to avoid the destruction of his precious Alhambra.
Boabdil signed his surender in the Salon de Embajadores
at Alhambra in 1492. Later that year, King Ferdinand met
here with Columbus in the very same room to discuss new trading
plans for the Far East.
When Napoleon's troops invaded Granada and seized
the Alhambra, the General intended to blow up the palace.
So the story goes, his plans were hampered by a wounded soldier
who had been left behind in the palace. The courageous man
succeeded in diffusing the bomb single handedly, and thus
saved this beautiful building for future generations.
The Alhambra's remarkable beauty has not always been appreciated
by the Spanish. Carlos V made his own addition to the palace
in the incogrous Renaissance style. When American author Washington
Irving visited Alhambra and fell in love with the architecture
and history he wrote Tales of the Alhambra, a collection of
storeis which brought this now popular tourist site to the
What's there to see and do?
There are always queues of tourists outside Alhambra, but
it is possible to purchase a ticket a day in advance from
any branch of the Banco Bilbao in the city. Three sections
of the palace are open to the public, the Mexuar (courts of
justice), The Serallo where the sultan would wecome
guests and foreign dignitaries and the Hareem, the
private part of the palace on the Sultan and his family were
allowed to enter.