Afternoon at the Alhambra

The pathways were lined by legions of slender towering cypress trees, dark green tips meeting the deep blue sky in stark contrast. The hedges, so neatly trimmed, sharp edges lining the gardens. Orange trees, with bright citrus orbs peeping out from so many green leaves. A magnificent view of the city showcasing tiny buildings lining the hillside. Opaque white fluffy clouds floating against a deep blue sky. Beautifully patterned stone paths greeted our feet. We wandered in and out of shaded gardens, relishing spots of direct sunlight, then slowly meandering on. At every turn there was a gentle trickle of water, making me suddenly feel calmer, more serene. We oohed and aahed at courtyards, at arches, at views. We stopped for long moments, staring at the views before us.

Our ticket for the main palace had a time stamped entry for 16:30. We got to the line at 16:15. There was no one in line, no other tourists in sight. We approached the ticket taker. “No. Not time.” We shrugged, then sat down on a bench nearby, basking in the sunshine. I was drifting into sleep when the others said, “It’s time” and we re-entered the line.

The palace, so unassuming on the outside, was magnificent on the inside. Glazed tile in deep blues, greens, and yellows lined the walls. Faded blue tile peeked up from the floor. Ceilings offered intricate wood carvings. Views of the city appeared through intricately carved windows. Fountains met us at every turn.

Each time we entered a new part of the palace we stopped in our tracks, amazed by the beauty before us. How did they make such incredible architecture? How did they carve such intricate designs? How did they coordinate work teams with no smart phones?

We walked back to the city, quietly reflecting on all the beauty we had seen.

151 thoughts on “Afternoon at the Alhambra

  1. The Alhambra is the only “touristy” place I’ve ever visited where I bought a photo book, because I despaired that my own pictures could never do justice to its stark beauty. Your photos are fantastic!

    • Thank you! We were the only ones walking through that section of the garden. It’s hard to imagine that in such a touristy spot as the Alhambra you can be alone, but you can!

  2. Magnificent and fascinating site indeed!
    I also keep a great memory of an afternoon at the Science Park from my stay at Granada!
    Most people don’t know the site but as a science geek I couldn’t have missed it! πŸ˜‰

  3. Oh my gosh! I’ve been there before back in 2007! This was during my high school winter break for an entire week traveling all over Espana. If I could go back, I would! I fell in love with the architectural design, especially the calligraphy! You were very fortunate to have nice weather. It was all overcast when we went. Here’s a picture: . Thank you so much for sharing!

    Related Articles:
    For a few more pictures from Spain, check out, “Thinking Outside the Fingers; Linguistic Enthusiasm and Cultural Awareness,” at I mention my linguistic enthusiasm for studying foreign languages and then dive straight into the cultural awareness with my travel stories. I hope you enjoy it! Thanks again for the trip down Memory Lane!

    • I think most of the carvings are in stone, which makes me even more curious about how they were able to create them and have them appear so perfect – no room for error. The doors, and several of the ceilings, are wooden, but most of the walls were stone or marble.

  4. Been to the Alhambra twice. It’s a beautiful place and visiting never gets old. Though your feet hurt after spending a day in there because there is so much to see! Beautiful pictures. πŸ™‚

  5. I laughed about your waiting to wait in line! We did an afternoon and an evening entry. Dinner was slow, so we rushed back up the hill to get there in time, and again were told “not time”.

  6. Wonderful post and photos! You must have had a fabulous time! It brings back memories from long ago, when I was a high school student on a week-long trip to Spain. Our hotel was in Costa del Sol, and early in the evenings we would watch the fishermen pulling their boats and nets onto the beach. We took the ferry to Morocco, and a friend of mine smuggled a mug full of hashish back across the Strait of Gibraltar. (I shudder to think what would have happened to him had he been caught.) But the highlight of the trip was the Alhambra…

    • Thank you! Isn’t it wonderful when you can relive something you’ve experienced through words or pictures? That’s one of my favorite things about blogging – going back and reliving memories.

  7. Lori, This is gorgeous … and wonderfully told. We were there a few years ago and were gobsmacked for the same reasons as you. How did they create this beauty? Congrats on the FP – so well deserved. All the Best, Terri

  8. I was at Alhambra last year and first time in Andalucia and Granada as well. What a beautiful region! Would love to go back to Alhambra in Spring or Summer when the flowers are out. Did you do night tour? Lovely photos btw.

    • We did an afternoon tour. A night tour would be fantastic, though. Our lodging was at the base of the Alhambra, so each night coming home from dinner we looked up at the Alhambra, illuminated by spotlights. Equally beautiful.

  9. Lori, I found this post via Freshly Pressed (congratulations). Your photographs of the Alhambra were lovely and reminded me of my January term trip there is…wait for it…1992. Yikes! One of my favorite details were the wooden rails on some staircases in the garden. They were carved out and water flowed down them, clear and cold from the mountain. So cool. Thanks for the memories.

    • Thank you! Wow – 1992! That’s awesome. We loved the water flowing down the bannisters as well. We thought that on a hot summer day they would be lifesavers, just splash some water on you and keep walking.

  10. Thank you for reminding me of such a wonderful, miraculous place, one of the few I’ve actually visited. On seeing it, you no longer feel surprised that hardened Catholic warriors, after generations of bloody war and hatred towards Muslims, on capturing it nevertheless left this gem quite intact.

  11. The pics are just AWESOME..thanks Lori….no pic will really do justice to it’s unbelievable beauty..brought back lovely memories…AlcΓ‘zar of Seville – Royal Palace is another gorgeous place to fact I liked it more…

  12. i went to the main palace in the evening and morning….both are magnificent despite the difference of lighting…..your photos are beautiful i love the way you frame each one of them…..

  13. Dear Lori,
    have you ever been to the region, in Italy, that many call the “new Tuscany” (i.e. Marches)? If you ever do, please let me know and I’ll give you some really good suggestions – as I am fond of my land.
    Congratulations for your blog!

  14. This makes me want to come back :p I so love this city :O It’s just one of the most beautiful in spain…wait no there is also sevilla, madrid is beautiful too, barcelone, cordoba’s mosque, toledo…I can’t choose my favorite

  15. Gorgeous pictures! The Alhambra was one of my favorite places to visit in Spain, so thanks for the memories. We stayed in the Hotel America inside the Alhambra, but the bell in the church next door got stuck and tolled for 2.5 hours in the middle of the night. πŸ™‚ Still, absolutely wonderful place.

  16. Thanks for these lovely photos! We spent our honeymoon in Spain and I have such happy memories of Granada and most especially, the Alhambra. I am drawn to those patterns when I see them replicated elsewhere like no other pattern. I saw one just yesterday on a quilt and thought of the Alhambra fondly, funny to have run into this post on your blog today!

  17. Beautiful pictures. I went to Granada when I studied abroad in Spain in college. Brings back sweet memories! I am so envious that you’ve traveled to 47 countries! I’ve been to many, but probably about 17 shy of you…but oh can I relate to your love of travel. I love your blog. Blessings!

    • Thanks! I love reading others’ accounts of places I’ve been to; it always brings back such vivid memories. Thanks for stopping by. πŸ™‚

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