The second day of my all too brief visit to Granada was dominated by the must-do visit to the Alhambra Palace. This is the single most-visited tourist site in all of Spain so it’s advisable to book in advance (http://apc.ticketmaster.es/nav/en/mucho_mas/granada/alhambra_y_generalife_09oz/alhambra_general/entradas.html?canalMB=ALH) which, unusually sensibly, I did, at a cost of €14.
Taking the bus up there was the easy alternative and, since there was a bus stop about twenty meters/yards from my hotel, there was no way I was doing anything else. After a brief journey of around 7 or 8 minutes I was there. There then followed some waiting around until the ticket office opened around 8.30 and then we were in.
To collect your tickets you must have the card with which you purchased them, so just remember that if Granny bought your Alhambra tickets then you need to pack Granny when you come to Spain.
A brief walk through some of the landscaped gardens and topiary-lined pathways brings you down to the first site to visit which is the Palace of Carlos V, a later Christian-era building erected after the reconquista, when Granada, the last of the Islamic ‘taifas‘ of Spain, was finally re-taken in 1492.
This is a somewhat deceptive building as it has a Romanesque facade but opens into a huge circular courtyard in the interior.
From here you carry on down the slight hill towards the older Moorish parts of the palace complex which to be honest we’re really all here to see. We enter into the Nasrid palaces, the first of which, known as the Mexuar, was an area used for conducting the business of the Moorish court, where ministers would meet and the Sultan dispense justice.
From here we enter the Comares Palace, also known as the courtyard of the myrtles, which was the residence of the Sultans and built to convey the wealth and power of the Sultanate since water was usually in short supply and the technology to provide the pools and fountains of the Alhambra was expensive and difficult to provide and maintain.
This area also contains the court of the ambassadors with its richly adorned walls, ceilings and courtyards.
The next stop is the courtyard of the lions, named after the fountain in the centre which has twelve lions, one of which would spout water from its mouth, with each taking their turn every hour. This is surrounded by some seemingly delicate pillars each richly carved and even though there was some restoration work taking place this was still impressive.
From here I went out into the gardens past the Partal Palace and into areas filled with pools and beautifully designed gardens with the other buildings of the complex surrounding them.
The last leg of the trip round this magnificent site took me up to the Generalife, a villa situated higher up and surrounded by some beautifully designed gardens with pools and some wonderful views out over the city and the rest of the Alhambra complex.
With that it was time to leave and head down into the city again, this time to meet up with a fellow blogger with whom I have the honour of sharing a surname. Alen McFadzean is a former journalist, among other things, who has a couple of excellent WordPress blogs, Because They’re There and Awkward Roads, both well worth your time perusing.
Alen has recently relocated from north-east England to the altogether sunnier climes of Orgiva, not far from Granada, so he accepted an invitation to meet up when I was in the city. After a bit of intial confusion we met up in the city centre and spent the next couple of hours having a good old conversation and a few beers whilst we tried to establish some sort of distant familial connection due to the shared surname, prattled on about politics, especially the stupidity of Brexit (he’s now trying to get an Irish passport through his wife’s connections to that country) and generally put the world to rights over a glass and some tapas.
Having spent a very pleasant couple of hours in his company it was then time for Alen to head back to his new home in Orgiva and for me to wander off for some dinner and a few more relaxing hours watching the world go by in the warm evening sunshine with an ice-cold cerveza or two.
That was more or less the end of my Spanish adventure. Some shopping was done for souvenirs and family gifts the next morning and then I travelled back to Malaga and stayed the next night there, as my flight home was very early the following day, but I shall definitely return to Andalucia again.