- Castles/Palaces, Churches/Religious Sites, Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing Type
- 2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
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The Alhambra is the crown jewel of Granada. Perched high atop a hill in the center of the city, this UNESCO World Heritage site dominates the skyline. The Alhambra is not only Granada and Andalusia's biggest tourist attraction, it's one of the most-visited spots in all of Spain. It draws about 2 million visitors per year, with some traveling to Granada just to see the Alhambra. And for good reason – it boasts a rich history, magnificent architecture, gorgeous gardens and stellar views.
Aesthetics aside, to really appreciate the Alhambra is to understand its history. The palace was primarily built between the 13th and 14th centuries by the Moorish Nasrid Dynasty (though small parts of it were initially constructed in the ninth century by the previous dynasty), acting as a residence for royals as well as fortress. After the Conquest of Granada, Spanish rulers made the Alhambra more their own – transforming interiors, replacing the on-site mosque with a church and adding other Renaissance-style structures, including an extra palace for Charles V. Many of what visitors see today is centuries of rebuilding and restoration.
The Alhambra is big, with many recent visitors saying you could easily spend more than half a day exploring the site. The attraction's main points of interest include the Nasrid Palaces, Charles V's palace, Generalife (a relaxation area for previous kings) and the Alcazaba (the fortress and oldest part of the Alhambra), all of which are included in the daytime ticket. Tickets can be difficult to secure due to the immense popularity of the attraction, and as such travelers strongly encourage reserving in advance. Although there are multiple areas to explore indoors, the palace's perch atop the hill can make the sun quite unbearable; travelers who visited on a hot day advised bringing water to make traversing the grounds more comfortable.
Daytime general admission tickets cost 14 euros (about $15.50) for adults and 8 euros (about $9) for children between the ages of 15 and 12; entrance is free for children younger than 12. Nighttime tickets are available at a lower rate but don't include access to all the areas within the attraction. You can get tickets in advance at any La Caixa Bank ATM, at the Corral del Carbon on Mariana Pineda Street or even on Ticketmaster.es. The Alhambra is open daily but hours are seasonal. To control crowds, only a certain number of people are given access twice a day – 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. is the first time slot and 2 to 6 p.m. is the second. You can reach the Alhambra by walking from the Albaicín neighborhood, less than a mile north, but its location on a hill may be too big of a climb for some travelers. You can also take the C3 bus, which picks up at Plaza de Isabel La Catolica, located in the city's center. For more information visit the Alhambra's website.
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