Exploring the Moorish Architecture at the Alhambra

Posted on 04. Nov, 2011 by in Destinations, Europe Travel, Spain

My last trip to Spain was absolutely not planned in advance.

It was a total spur of the moment kind of vacation, due to a simple Facebook status change from two of my long lost friends. They had just moved to Granada! And since the February thick clouds over London had me longing for some vitamin D, I didn’t hesitate for long before I booked my flight to Spain. Olé!

The Alhambra, as seen from the Mirador San Nicolas

The Monica Geller in me found it was incredibly hard to let go of the itinerary control, but I guess the benefit outweighed the effort because I truly had a blast discovering the Moorish architecture in Spain, especially in Granada with its most famous piece, the Alhambra. Built in the 14th century, the “Red Fortress” is the largest Islamic fortress in Spain, with amazing architectural details and a large garden.

The first thing that strikes when visiting the Alhambra is the attention to detail. The architecture is focused on carefully carved arches, muqarnas, arabesques and Arabic calligraphy. I had never seen anything like it before!

Court of Lions, Alhambra, moorish architecture in spain

Court of Lions, Alhambra

One of the most popular places in the Alhambra is without a doubt the famous Court of Lions.

The 55m² court was commissioned by Muhammed V and features over 120 intricately carved white marble columns, and a beautiful 12-lion fountain in its center. True to Islamic gardening culture, the court is divided in four parts, which symbolizes the four parts of the world. Each one of them is irrigated by a water channel - the four rivers of paradise. The Court of Lions is actually an architectural materialization of paradise. Pretty impressive!

Court of Myrtles, Alhambra

Another fine example of Moorish architecture in Spain is the Court of the Myrtles, which is also the most photographed part of the Alhambra. The gigantic marble pool was used to cool off the palace visitors during the warm Andalusian days of summer, and actually represents power within the kingdom as water was in short supply at the time. I really liked the way the Torre de Comares is reflected on the pool and the tiny details around the windows of each wing.

Good to know for Alhambra Palace Tours

  • Plan a full day for it. It doesn’t take all day to visit, but you will be so tired afterward all you will want to do is go to the nearest tapas bar!
  • Respect the time slot on the Prince Palace ticket - if you’re late, they won’t wait, and you’ll have to buy another ticket.
  • Make sure you have ample space on your camera’s SD card.
  • There isn’t anything to eat on site, so plan accordingly.

Have you ever been on a last-minute holiday to Spain? Were you aware of the Moorish architecture in Spain? What’s your favorite piece?

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12 Responses to “Exploring the Moorish Architecture at the Alhambra”

  1. Christine

    06. Nov, 2011

    The Alhambra or Granada never get old! Moorish Spain is so fascinating. Great piece!

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      10. Nov, 2011

      Thanks Christine! Indeed it never gets old - so amazing to see this Islamic culture in Spain!

      Reply to this comment
  2. Abby

    11. Nov, 2011

    You can never go wrong with a last-minute trip to Granada! That happens to be where I studied abroad in college. Love it!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Angela

    13. Nov, 2011

    Wonderful, I’m going to see the Alhambra tomorrow!

    Reply to this comment
  4. Great article and good photos too! I live here now but still haven’t had the chance to check out the Alhambra yet. Any chance you want to come for a re-visit look me up!

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      31. Jan, 2012

      Thanks! The Alhambra is really a must, for both the gardens, the architecture, the history and the views over Granada. Truly worth a whole day!

      Reply to this comment
  5. norman taralrud-bay

    20. Jun, 2012

    Just don’t go in the evening, as we just did today (10 pm entry).
    Nothing is properly lit, there are no descriptions (unless you pay 10 euro each for an audi guide on top of the ticket), and tonight the three most interesting place swere all roped off for restoration -Court of Lions, Hallk of the Abencerrages and the Hall of Ambassadors.
    Extrenmely disappointing after reading Washington Irving for two months and fantasizing about a wander thru the palace(s). In fact you see about ten small rooms and the fine Court of Comares with its water feature. Nothing above ground level is open anyway, it seems. Even lingering to try (no flash) photos of the detailed ceilings it was hard to spend more than half an hour on this five minute walk. best go in daytime - all is indoors and you might see something. And maybe pay the 10 euros, or have your Irving with you - some of the rooms are named.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      21. Jun, 2012

      I think the Alhambra is more interesting during the day, and seen from the Mirador San Nicolas at night, for the best effects.

      Reply to this comment

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