How to visit the Alhambra in Granada: timetables and tickets

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Before leaving for Granada and visiting Andalusia, don't forget to book a ticket to visit the Alhambra, one of the most visited monuments in the world!

The flagship of Hispano-Moorish art, the Alhambra is a palatine city made up of sumptuous fortresses and residences, patios decorated with fountains and water basins. This architectural complex includes the Alcazaba, the Nasrid palaces, the Generalife, the gardens and the palace of Charles V.

Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, in Andalusia (Spain), it is strategically erected on top of the Sabika hill from where it dominates the city of Granada and its plain.



Built in the 3th century, this sumptuous complex attracts over XNUMX million visitors a year.

History of the Alhambra

Alhambra in Granada - Photo from Istock

The Alhambra comes from Arabic and means "the Red". The oldest part of the Alhambra is theAlcazaba and refers to the original citadel. Its architecture consists of a high tower, an internal medina - of which only the foundations remain - and the hammams. This first nucleus appears to have been built on the ruins of a previous fort.

The construction of this complex is attributed to Mohammed ben Nazar, founder of the Nasrid dynasty, who entered Granada in 1238.

His son, Mohammed II, and his descendants pursued the enterprise. Over the centuries, the Alhambra has been enriched by thirty defense towers and rich palaces built by the Moorish rulers who made the Alhambra the capital of the kingdom of Granada. The Nasrid style reached its peak in the XNUMXth century.

The historical heritage of the Alhambra in Andalusia was not directly influenced by the capture and fall of Granada in 1492. Despite the desire of the Catholic kings to erase the traces of Islam, the Moorish palaces were spared due to their great beauty.



It was in the XNUMXth century that the most important transformations took place. Emperor Charles V decided to build a Renaissance palace, with a circular internal courtyard, in the central part of the Alhambra.

Visit the Alhambra - What to see

This masterpiece of Arabian art is a 140.000 m² complex of ancient buildings, built with views over the city of Granada. It is a true medieval city, with its palaces, its museums, its baths, its mosque and above all its beautiful gardens. Therefore, below we present the different areas and attractions to visit in the Alhambra:

Alcazaba

Alcazaba - Photo from Pixabay

This is the oldest part of the site: it is the defense and surveillance center that belonged to the military garrison of the Alhambra, under the dynasty of Nasrid kings in the fourteenth century. Built on the southern pediment of the hill, it is the primitive fortress of the site.

Characterized by its towers and its lush gardens it is the highest area of ​​the Alhambra. From the top of the towers we have the best views of the city and the surroundings of the complex.

Nasrid Palaces

Nasrid Palaces in Granada - Image from Pixabay

One of the most attractive areas of the visit to the Alhambra is the area of ​​the Nasrid Palaces, also known as La Dar al-Mamlaka. Here you can admire the three main components of Arab-Muslim art: calligraphy, arabesques and geometric motifs.


The Nasrid palaces are organized into three groups, integrated into the fortress and interconnected by vestibules and courtyards. The most notable monuments are:

  • It Mexuar - the oldest part where the administration of justice and state affairs took place
  • The Comares Palace - is the largest and highest room in the building. It was the sultan's official residence intended for private audiences with ambassadors
  • The Palace of the Lions - was the private area of ​​the palace, where the Harem was also. Here are the finest and most elaborate arches. Its gallery of 124 white marble columns opens onto an internal courtyard, the courtyard of the lions, consisting of a magnificent central alabaster basin.
  • The Partal Gardens - made of pergolas and successive levels, they are located at the end of the Nasrid palaces and offer a panoramic view of the Albayzín district, whose physiognomy has changed little since the Moorish era.

The Generalife

Generalife to Grenada – Photo by Pixabay

This is another palace and it was the summer residence of the sultans. It was in its inner courtyard, dotted with fountains, among exotic plants and colorful flowers, which came to cool off, a stone's throw from the seat of their government.


The Gereralife it consists of two buildings, connected by the Patio de la Acequia. Since the purpose of its construction is to be a place of peace and relaxation, you will not find any ornamental excess inside.


The palace of Carlos V

It was Carlos V who had this built Renaissance palace within the Alhambra complex, as the Alcázar which was his summer residence, did not cover your needs. In fact, he decided to build a large and mighty custom-made building next to the Arab palaces suitable for a Roman emperor.

It is an imposing construction whose architecture is not very consistent with the context in which it is located. Charles V never lived there. Today the building houses the Museu of Fine Arts with works of art from the Alhambra.

How to get to the Alhambra?

There are several ways to reach the Alhambra from Granada:

By bus: With line C3 (Alhambra - Plaza Isabel La Católica). They are red minibuses that start running around 7 am, with a frequency of 8 minutes.

By car: if you rent a car in Granada or have your own vehicle, be aware that it is necessary to take the ring road “Ronda Sur” which goes around the city because the access of vehicles in the city center is forbidden. You will find paid parking at the entrance, not very cheap.

 

Hours of visits

Day visit

From March 15th to October 14th: every day from 8:30 to 20:00
From 15 October to 14 March: every day from 8:30 to 18:00

Night visits:

From March 15th to October 14th: Tuesday to Saturday from 22pm to 00pm
From October 15th to March 14th: Friday and Saturday from 20pm to 00pm


Night visits to the gardens and the Generalife palace

From March 15th to October 14th: Tuesday to Saturday from 22pm to 00pm
From October 15th to November 14th: Friday and Saturday from 20pm to 00pm

Visits to the gardens

From March 15th to October 14th: every day from 8:30 to 20:00
From 15 October to 14 March: every day from 8:30 to 18:00

The Alhambra is closed on December 25th and January 1st.

Types of tickets for the Alhambra

Depending on the time you want to dedicate to this monument and what you want to spend, there are different types of Alhambra tickets that you can buy.

General visit

General admission to the Alhambra is priced at 14 euros and is the most comprehensive that can be purchased. It includes the Alcazaba, the Nasrid Palaces and the Generalife, guaranteeing an exceptional tour of the entire monument. The estimated duration of the visit is 3 hours.

Full price: 14 €
Children under 12: free
People over 65: € 9
People with reduced mobility: € 8

Entrance to the gardens, Generalife and Alcazaba

This ticket has a price of 7 euros and will allow you to access all the spaces of the Alhambra except the Nasrid Palaces. The duration of this itinerary is about two hours. Our recommendation is that unless you are short of time, opt for general admission to visit the Alhambra, as the Nasrid Palaces are exceptionally beautiful.

Adults: € 7
Children under 12: free

Night visit to the Alhambra

If you want to visit the Alhambra in a completely different way and get to know it at night, with a night visit. If you want to try this experience, we recommend that you get your tickets even more in advance than we already recommend for day tickets, as capacity is less at night and seats usually sell out weeks in advance.

Night tour of the Nasrid Palace

Adults: € 8
Children under 12: free.

Generalife night tour

Adults: € 5
Children under 12: free

Book your ticket to visit the Alhambra

This tourist site is among the most visited in Spain and for good reason: it is one of the most authentic testimonies of the Arab Islamic occupation in Andalusia.

Due to the large number of tourists, it is necessary book the ticket to visit the Alhambra more than a month before! Available places sometimes end up to two months in advance! And the tickets are neither cancellable nor refundable, so pay close attention to the formula you choose.

What we recommend that you book online is the guided tour which includes the Alhambra, the Generalife and the Nasrid palaces.

Useful information for visiting the Alhambra

  • You should know that when buying the ticket to visit the Alhambra you have to choose not only the day, but also the time. It is important that you are present at the monument within the allotted time. Otherwise you will lose access.
  • It is allowed to eat inside the Alhambra in the areas designated for it.
  • There is an itinerary for people with reduced mobility that allows access to the main areas of the monument.
  • It is possible to rent an audio guide for 6 euros, an ideal complement that will help you understand and get to know the history of the Alhambra much better.
  • Flash photography is strictly prohibited, and special permission is required to take pictures with a tripod.
Alhambra in Granada - Photo from Istock
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