Jardines de Pereda

Park in Santander

Jardines De Pereda, Santander
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Jesús Gómez Fernández

The Pereda Gardens are located in Santander on land reclaimed from the sea that was used as a port dock in 1805. The park was officially inaugurated in 1905 coinciding which coincided with the celebration of an Exhibition of Arts and Industries.

José María de Pereda

The gardens are named after 19th-century Cantabrian writer José María de Pereda, whose bronze effigy can be seen on top of a stone monument.  The engravings that surround Pereda’s bust represent scenes from his works.

The trees of Jardines de Pereda

The gardens are characterized by the trees of more than 200 trees from flowering apple trees, magnolias, holly,  cedars, horse chestnuts, pines, boxwoods, yews, linden trees, and palm trees. From September to March the trees offer shelter for thousands of small starlings that live here.

Visiting Jardines de Pereda


24 Hours



Address: Monumento a José María de Pereda 39004 Santander Cantabria Spain
Duration: 20 minutes

Tours and Activities from Santander

Paseo de los Tristes and Casa de las Chirimías

Park in Granada

The Paseo de los Tristes or the The Promenade of the Sad Ones is a paseo located in Granada, Spain. It is located to the north of the Alhambra Complex by the Darro river and offers stunning views of the towers.

Puente de las Chirimías and Casa de las Chirimías

The Paseo de los Tristes begins at Bridge of the Chirimias, which is named after the house it lies next to. The Casa de las Chirimias is a viewpoint tower, dating back to 1609 in the Baroque style. The tower consisted of three parts. It was used to watch the celebrations carried out in the esplanade below. The judge and constables would watch from the ground floor, the mayors and “Twenty-four knights” from the first floor and, on the third floor, musicians with Chirimias, which is a type of flute, trumpets and flageolets would play music.

The House of The Chirimías was built in the early seventeenth century, by the public authorities, on the plot that had been ceded by the lords of Castril, in 1609. This building was one of the first to introduce the Baroque style in Granada. It was built as a lookout tower, and from there the city authorities presided over the public festivities and events that were held on the esplanade of the Paseo de los Tristes, then called Paseo de la Puerta de Guadix.
TheThe Puente de las Chirimias was built in 1882 although there was possibly an Arab bridge in the same place.

At the end of the square there is another bridge: the “Puente del Aljibillo” and its name refers to a cistern that was on the promenade on the other side of the river.

History of Paseo de los Tristes

The official name is actually Paseo del Padre Manjón and prior to which it was  Paseo de la Puerta de Guadix. it was one of the most used public spaces in Granada until the 19th century. At the start of the 17th century, Castril Lords, who had their property and land in the area, denoted land to the city so a promenade could be built. The fountain found in the middle dates back to this time, to 1609.

It was in the 19th century that it began to be called Paseo de los Tristes or The Promenade of the Sad Ones. On the hill of the Sabica around 1805, above the Alhambra, it was situated the present-day cemetery of San José de Granada, formerly called the cemetery of Las Barreras. On the same land back in the times of Spanish Muslim it was housed a royal almunia and the Palacio de los Alixares.

The cemetery was accessed by going up the hill via the Cuesta de los Chinos and to get there, the funeral procession had to go down the Paseo de la Puerta de Guadix which is currently the Paseo del Padre Manjón. On many occasions the majority of the procession said their goodbyes to the deceased here, just before heading up to the Sabica. That is where the nickname Paseo de los Tristes comes from, the name all Granada today knows it by.

Visiting Paseo de los Tristes and Casa de las Chirimías


24 Hour



Address: Paseo de los tristes, granada Calle Reyes Católicos, 32 18001 Granada Spain
Duration: 20 minutes

Tours and Activities from Granada

Latest Blogs from Granada

Generalife occupies the slopes of the Cerro del Sol or Hill of the Sun, across the valley from the Nasrid Palaces. The Generalife was built in the 13th century as a leisure place for the kings of Granada when they wanted to get away from the official affairs of the palace.  The Palacio de Generalife or Architect’s Garden was built in the early 1300’s, as the summer palace and country estate of the Moorish kings of Granada.

The Alhambra and the Generalife Gardens are high up in the hills, and have panoramic views over the Granada and the river valleys of Genil and Darro. It’s a great place to just walk around and relax. 

The gardens are very well tended by 35 professional gardeners and one can see them at work while one wanders through the gardens. 

Generalife Alhambra – History Under A Minute

Palacio de Generalife and their gardens were initially planned in the 13th century as a summer palace for the Nasrid sultans. The Palace was built along the slopes of the Cerro del Sol or Hill of the Sun. It looks across over to the Alhambra and down over the Genil and Daroo valleys. The Palacio de Generalife was designed to offer calm and relaxing retreat. Like many Moorish palaces it included the use of water and vegetation. The sound of trickling water would have muddled with the gentle breeze and songs of birds, setting a peaceful tone for quiet reflection.

The name come from a translation of its Moorish name ‘Jardines del Alarife’ or the Garden of the Architect. The Generalife Gardens have been modified over the centuries, but the terrace gardens have retained their simplicity. The main architectural component of the gardens is a palace with patios, courtyards, and pavilions.

A Tour of Generalife, Alhambra

The Generalife is split between the Palace and the High and Low gardens.

Paseo de los Nogales

Paseo De Los Nogales, Generalife 6
CC BY-SA 3.0 / José Luiz

As you leave the main entrance to the Alhambra at the top of the Cuesta del Rey Chico, you walk up a path  shaded by trees. To the left of you is the entrance to the with Alhambra Alto and the Torre del Agua or Tower of Water and Torre del Cabo de la Carrera or the Tower at the End of the Street. You will come to a junction, the left turn is the main route to the Alhambra, the right is the way you return from the Generalife and you go through the middle path up Paseo de los Nogales or Promenade of the Walnut Trees to the Jardines Bajos. From here it will take 10 minutes to walk to the Generalife Palace.

There are great views over the walls and towers of the Alhambra from this walk. The first tower you see will be the forlorn looking Torre del Cabo de la Carrera or Tower of the End of the Street which was destroyed in 1812 by the retreating forces of Napoleon. The next is the Torre de las Infantas or Tower of the Princesses, which held the three daughters,  Zaida, Zoraida and Zorahaida of Emir Mohamed IX (ca. 1370-1453) prisoners.  Followed by the Torre de la Cautiva or Tower of the Captive named after its famous occupant Lady Isabel de Solís, who had been a captive but, converted to the Islamand became the Sultan’s, favorite wife. The final two tower before turning off the road would be the Torre del Cadí or Tower of the Judge and the Torre de los Picos with its distinctive crenelations.

While looking over at the Alhambra you will be looking over the Huertas del Generalife. The Generalife was surrounded by four orchards of fruit trees for the consumption of the court, and, in addition, the pastures for livestock were cared for there.

You will be guided up some steps to leave the Paseo de los Nogales and enter the Jardines Bajos or Lower Gardens.

Read more about the Paseo de los Nogales

Lower Gardens

Pool In Jardines Bajos, Generalife, Alhambra
CC BY-SA 2.0 / El Pantera

As you head up the steps you will see the Teatro del Generalife on your right, turn left into the Jardines Bajos or Lower Gardens

These gardens were laid out in the early 20th century is a beautiful series of gardens, pools, fountains and hedges, with occasional glimpses of the towers and walls of the Alhambra.

Read more about the Jardines Bajos

Patio del Descabalgamiento

Ref: PM 090983 E Granada; Generalife
CC BY-SA 4.0 / PMRMaeyaert

As you enter you come to the Patio del Descabalgamiento,  so called as its name from the presence of footrests that facilitate horse riders in their dismount. Also on hand are two side buildings, which were probably used as stables. As you pass through the next archway note the Key symbol in the archway.

Read more about the Patio del Descabalgamiento

Patio de la Guardia

Patio De La Guardia Generalife 4
CC BY-SA 3.0 / skymuss

You enter under an arch of Morcabes into a small courtyard with a fountain n the middle. To access the Patio de la Acequia head straight across into the doorway into what looks like a three floor tower. The tower in was used as a lookout tower over the main entrance gate. Through the doorway the narrow stairs turns to the left and you ascend into the Patio de la Acequia.

Read more about the Patio de la Guardia

Patio de la Acequia

Patio De La Acequia In Generalife, Granada, Spain 7
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Rumomo

The Patio de la Acequia or patio of the Water Channel  is the most important part of the Generalife. It is divided length way by an water channel that continues from here to carry water to the Alhambra. The channel is surrounded by several famous crossing jets and has a stone basin at each of its ends.

The rest of the patio is occupied by different vegetal species that have been changed according to the moment’s tastes. Nowadays there are myrtle bushes, orange trees, cypresses and rosebushes.

Read more about the Patio de la Acequia

The South Pavilion

South Pavilion Generallife
CC BY-SA 1.0 / Almbauer

As you entered the Patio de la Acequia you would have passed through the lower floor of the South Pavilion. This was thought to have been the Harem or rooms of the Sultan’s wives and family when they stayed here. The pavilion offers pleasant views of the gardens and he watercourse below.

Head to the north Pavilion by walking along the west porticoed galleries of the Patio de la Acequia. In the middle of this is a mirador or viewing platform. In the days of the sultan this would have been the only opening on this side. The arches in the other parts of the wall were made in the time of the catholic Monarchs.

Read more about the Pabellón Sur de Generalife

North Pavilion

Patio De La Acequia In Generalife, Granada, Spain 9
CC BY-SA 12.0 / Daderot

At the end of the Acequia courtyard lies the North Pavilion, thought to be the rooms of the Sultan when he stayed here. Behind a portico with five arches, you enter the Sala Regia or Royal Chamber, decorated with plaster-work, and leading to a 14th-century viewpoint in the Torre de Ismail or Tower of Ismail. The upper floors were added by the Catholic Monarchs in 1494.

You access the Patio of the Cypresses by ascending steps in the west of the Sala Regia.

Read more about the Pabellón Norte del Palacio del Generalife

Patio of the Cypresses

Patio Del Cipres Generalife
CC BY-SA 4.0 / PMRMaeyaert

You enter the Courtyard of the Cypress of the Sultana via an arcaded building which dates from 1584. In the center, nearly filling the courtyard is a pool, in a U shape, an island in the center holds another small stone fountain. The whole complex is surrounded by jets that release water, achieving a cool atmosphere that already in 1526 strongly impressed the Ambassador of the Republic of Venice Andrea Navaggiero on his visit to the Generalife.

There are the remains of a Cypress tree in the eastern side of this courtyard. There is a legend that this courtyard was the witness of a love affair between Morayma, the wife of king Boabdil, and a handsome knight of the Abencerrajes family. The lovers met under the shade of a cypress tree here. When the King found out in his rage he retaliated by luring the brother knights of the Abencerrajes to a banquet in the Alhambra. When the knights came the King beheaded the knights. According to legend, even today the iron rust stains at the bottom of the fountain of the Sala de los Abencerrajes contain the blood that was shed in revenge. For this reason the courtyard is also called the Courtyard Cypress of the Sultana.

The story was possibly a tale imagined by romantic travelers who visited Granada in the 18th century. Yet if the sultan’s cypress tree could talk, it may well tell even more amazing stories.

You leave the courtyard to the High Gardens, by passing the archway in the south side and ascending some steps of the Staircase of the Lions. On the top of the archway are two glazed earthenware figurines of lions facing each other.

Read more about the Patio del Ciprés

The High Gardens

Jardines Altos, Generalife, Alhambra
CC BY-SA 3.0 / rheins

These gardens were complete in the nineteenth-century. These gardens, are distributed on different levels, have small fountains with jets between the flower beds, with some beautiful specimens of magnolia trees, fragrant shrubs and a careful alternation of evergreen and deciduous tree specimens, make these gardens sheltered from the cold winds of the North, a small and romantic botanical garden, worthy of the best European humanist tradition.

Head to the east of the garden towards the Muslim water staircase and descending through a stepped pergola.

Read more about the Jardines Altos

Water Staircase

Escalera Del Agua, Generalife, Alhambra 2
CC BY-SA 3.0 / MauroMarinelli

To access the highest area of ​​the Generalife you need to ascend the Escalera del Agua. This is famous for the water that flows down it through its banisters and a central channel. The staircase has three landings with a small circular patio with a pool and fountains in the center.

Read more about the Escalera del Agua

Romantic Viewing Point

Mirador Romantico, Generalife, Granada, Spain
CC BY-SA 1.0 / Jebulon

At the end of the Water Stairway is the highest point in the Generalife. There is a neo-Gothic style building built here in 1836 by Jaime Traverso, the administrator of the site to be used as a Romantic Observation Point.

It was though to have been built on the top of a old Mosque.

Read more about the Mirador Romántico

House of Friends

Casa De Los Amigos, Alhambra
CC BY-SA 32.0 / Fabio Alessandro Locati

As you leave the high gardens by the Póstigo de los Carneros and the South Pavilion, you will see the remains of a building known as Casa de los Amigos. It would have been a separate complex of rooms for guests around a central courtyard. It was built between the 13th and 14th centuries.

Read more about the Casa de los Amigos

Walk of the Oleanders

Paseo De Las Adelfas, The Generalife, Alhambra 2
CC BY-SA 1.0 / Daderot

Paseo de las Adelfas or Walk of the Oleanders is a long path that runs along the upper part of the orchard, which it is separated from by a wall. The walk is all covered by a canopy of oleander.

Read more about the Paseo de las Adelfas

Walk of the Cypresses

Paseo De Los Cipreses, Generallife, Alhambra 4
CC BY-SA 3.0 / AdriPozuelo

The promenade of the cypress trees is a continuation of the The Walk of the Oleanders and leads the to the exit of the Gereralife.

Read more about the Paseo de los Cipreses

Best Generalife Alhambra Tickets

If you were wondering which tickets work best to explore the Generalife gardens of the Alhmabra? Here’s our selection of the top 4 Alhambra Gardens tickets.

Getting to Generalife Alhambra

The Generalife Gardens are separated from the Alhambra by the Cuesta del Rey Chico o Cuesta de los Chinos.

Once you enter the ticket office and the main entrance of the Alhambra Complex, you will find the Generalife Gardens on the right side, and the Alhambra Museum, Nasrid Palaces and Alcazaba on the left side.

The Alcazaba and the Nasrid Palaces are almost 1KM away from the Generalife and you need to access them on foot. There are clear sign boards indicating directions across the Alhambra Complex, hence getting around shouldn’t be a problem.

Generalife Gardens Opening Hours

The Alhambra Monument is open every day except 25th December and 1st January. The general visiting hours for the Alhambra are as follows:

Visiting Alhambra between 15th October – 31st March 

Monday – Sunday: 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM
Nasrid Palaces – Night session: (Fri to Sat) 8.00 PM to 9.30 PM
Generalife Palace – Night session: (Fri to Sat) 8.00 PM to 9.30 PM

Visiting Alhambra between 1st April to 14th October

Monday – Sunday: 8:30 AM to 8.00 PM
Nasrid Palaces Night session: (Tuesday – Saturday) 10.00 PM to 11.30 PM
Generalife Palace and Gardens – Night session – 1st April – 31st May: (Tues to Sat) 10.00 PM to 11.30 PM
Generalife Palace – Night session – 1st Sept – 14th Oct: (Fri to Sat) 10.00 PM to 11.30 PM

Tips for visiting the Gardens of Generalife

  • Keep aside 1.5 hours for a leisurely visit of the Alhambra Gardens
  • The Generalife Alhambra Tour is adapted for the disabled and those on wheelchairs.
  • Plucking flowers and walking on grass in the gardens is strictly prohibited.
  • Distance from the lockers to the Generalife: 100 m
  • Distance from the Generalife to Nasrid Palace: 700 m

You return to the junction where we started, by the entrance to the Alhambra. If you have not see the The Alcazaba try our Self Guided Tour of The Alcazaba, or our tours of the Nasrid Palaces The Mexuar, The Comres Palace and the Palace of the Lions.

Tours and Activities from Granada

Latest Blogs from Granada

The history of Granada is somewhat distinctive from most of Spain. Lying just a couple of hundred kilometers from Morocco, this part of Spain has experienced the best of the Moorish era. The way of living in this part of the country, its architecture and culture, still blatantly reflects its quintessential Andalusian roots. Granada’s Alhambra is a prime example and a testament to its origins.

Within the limits of Alhambra is the Alcazaba, a walled fortification meant for the rulers and their subjects. According to some sources, Alhambra’s Alcazaba was said to be built around the 11th century. This later became the last Moorish stronghold, and as such, is at the center of historical attention. It is also a bustling tourist attraction. So if you plan to visit the Alcazaba at Alhambra, make sure you book your tickets in advance.

Alcazaba Granada – History Under a Minute

History dictates that there was some sort of construction already present at the current Alcazaba site before it was transformed into the structure we see today. There are contradictory historical accounts regarding the final additions to the Alcazaba. The Broken Tower (Torre Quebrada), the Keep (Torre del Homenaje), and the WatchTower (Torre de la Vela) were subsequently added to shape it into a stronghold.

The king, Mohammed I is said to have initially established a residence there and was succeeded by his son, Mohammed II who lived there for a short while too. After the palaces were completed, the Alcazaba was used exclusively for military purposes. When the Christians subsequently took over, they carried out restorative work on the structure and transformed it into the state prison. Until the late 19th century, the Alcazaba lay unattended and since then different parts of the Alcazaba were explored and restored to the current state.

Tour of the Alcazaba Granada

Tower of the Cube

Torre Del Cubo, Alhambra, Grenada 4
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Rumomo

As you enter face the fortress from the Plaza de Los Aljibes, there are three towers. The center one Torre Quebrada stands overlooking the main entrance. To its right is the Torre del Homenaje or Broken Tower. which overlooks the Torre del Cubo. To the left the Torre del Adarguero is harder to make out as the hollow tower as it is also called has been partly demolished.

You will enter the dry moat of the Alcazaba beneath the Torre Quebrada, turn right and head up the steps at the end to ascend to the Tower if the Cube. The tower is a defensive artillery bastion, built by the Catholic Monarchs, over the top of and sealing up the Puerta de la Tahona or Gate of the Bakery.

From here there are great views over Granada and the Alhambra. As you look out to the left you can see the  Camino de Ronda leading to the Puerta de las Armas at the base of the Torre de las Armas. On the other side you have probably the best views over the Palacio del Mexuar and the Madrasa de los Príncipes and the Patio de Machuca. Along the battlements towards the Palacio Nazaríes you can see the Torre de Mohamed.

Read more about the Torre del Cubo

The Arms Square

Plaza De Las Armas, Alhambra, Granada 6
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Богдан Митронов-Слоб…

Head back down the steps and around the  Torre del Homenaje to enter the Plaza de las Armas or the Arms Square. This area was the main mustering grounds of the castle and it was also called the Barrio Castrense or Military Quarters of the Castle as it housed its soldiers and servants.  Just where you entered you can head up the steps to get a better view. The low walls are the foundations of the buildings that used to stand here.

You can walk along the northern battlements. The first tower you walk on is called the Torre del Criado del Doctor Ortiz  or Tower of the Servant of Doctor Ortiz , followed by the Torre de Alquiza and the final tower being the tower overlooking the Torre de las Armas. There are great views on the defenses below, the area between the wall you are currently on and the outer curtain wall was called the  Camino de Ronda and went all around the Alhambra.

Head back the way you came and descend to the Arms Square to wander among the ruins. Scattered around are the remains of a rainwater cistern, barracks, baths. The circular stairs  at the foot of the Torre Quebrada, which descending into the ground lead to a dungeon.

As you head towards the Torre de la Vela you should turn to your right and head out to the Torre de las Armas.

Read more about the Plaza de las Armas

Tower of the Arms

Torre De Las Armas, Alhambra, Granada
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Jhoczbox

As you cross to the far end of the Torre de las Armas, to your left you can see the small defensive tower called the Torre de los Hidalgos or Tower of the Nobles. The Torre de las Armas stands above the Puerta de las Armas, which would have been main access gate to the Alhambra in the early days of the Nasrid period. It gets its name as the visitors to the Alhambra would need to leave their weapons at the gate below.

There are not only great views over Granada, but also of the Alcazaba. You can look back at the Tower of the Cube, standing over the Gate of the Bakery, and behind you at the Torre de la Vela. If you look over the north side of the tower you should be able to make out the ruins of another tower by the river.  This was the Puerta de los Tablero or Gate of the Boards, a bridge over the river which had a water gate. The bridge had a damming mechanism that could store water and then flood the channel below in times of attack. There would have been a defensive wall connecting the Puerta de los Tablero with the Tower of Arms.

Head back the way you came and follow signs to the Torre de la Vela.

Read more about the Torre de las Armas

The Candle Tower

Torre De La Vela, Alhambra
CC BY-SA 24.0 / Rumomo

There is a little climb up a spiral staircase to climb through the four floors of the tower get to the top, but it is well worth it.  It is a very recognizable feature at the Alcazaba owing to its flags and the bell tower. Originally and as a defensive element, it had battlements on its terrace, which were lost during earthquakes.

The tower gets its name from its Bell, called La Vela, which was brought with the Catholic Monarchs took Granada.

Enjoy the spectacular views from the top before heading back down.

Read more about the Torre de la Vela

Torre de la Pólvora

Torre Polvora Alhambra
Copyright / Alhambra and Generalife

As you head down you will pass the Torre de la Pólvora or the Powder Tower is one of the minor small medieval Moorish defensive towers of Alcazaba. It receives its name because this tower is the place where the gunpowder used by artillery was stored. It will occasionally be open as part of the Alhambra’s “Space of the Month”. If it is pop in and have a look around.

The head down and enter the Jardín de Los Adarves.

Read more about the Torre de la Pólvora

Garden of Adarves

Jardin De Los Adarves, Alhambra, Genada 6
© la-alhambra.org.es

The Jardín de Los Adarves or Garden of Adarves are beautiful gardens built on the Adarves or battlements of the castle.

There is a mirador, or viewing platform on the western end of the garden, below which you can see the defensive wall that links to the Puerta de las Granadas and the Torres Bermejas.

The gardens has two water troughs filles with 3 water spouts from 1628. Among the fountains that can be seen in this garden, the one that stood on the bowl of the Fuente de los Leones in the Patio de los Leones  until 1949.

As you pass under the Torre del Adarguero you head towards the exit.

Read more about the Jardín de Los Adarves

Best Alhambra Tickets With Alcazaba Access

Getting to Alcazaba Granada

By Walk

If you are already in Granada, you could take a walk down Cuesta de Gomérez from Plaza Nueva. The 15 minutes’ pleasant walk takes you to the Gate of Justice after passing through the woods.

By Car

If you are getting there by car, you will only be allowed to take the vehicle up to Paseo de la Sabica and then opt for paid parking nearby. You can also take a taxi to the Alhambra and then walk to the Alcazaba. The closest entrance would be from Torre Quebrada, which will take you the Torre del Homenaje next. This route will end your tour at Torre de la Vela and Plaza de Los Aljibes.

By Bus

Bus C3 and C4 also take you to the Alhambra complex.

Alcazaba Granada Opening Hours

The Alhambra Monument is open every day except 25th December and 1st January. The general visiting hours for the Alhambra are as follows:

Visiting Alhambra between 15th October – 31st March 

Monday – Sunday: 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM
Nasrid Palaces – Night session: (Fri to Sat) 8.00 PM to 9.30 PM
Generalife Palace – Night session: (Fri to Sat) 8.00 PM to 9.30 PM

Visiting Alhambra between 1st April to 14th October

Monday – Sunday: 8:30 AM to 8.00 PM
Nasrid Palaces Night session: (Tuesday – Saturday) 10.00 PM to 11.30 PM
Generalife Palace and Gardens – Night session – 1st April – 31st May: (Tues to Sat) 10.00 PM to 11.30 PM
Generalife Palace – Night session – 1st Sept – 14th Oct: (Fri to Sat) 10.00 PM to 11.30 PM

Tips For Visiting The Alcazaba

  • Buy your Alcazaba entrance tickets online and well in advance. The Alhambra attracts the most number of tourists in this part of the country and you wouldn’t want to miss out.
  • Remember that the time mentioned on your tickets are for Nasrid Palace visit. Start with the palaces and then come to the Alcazaba to make sure you have enough time.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes or sandals. Suntan and hat are a must in the Summer.
  • There are steps so the Alcazaba is not suitable if you have mobility issues. If you’re fit, climbing to the top of the The Candle Tower for the terrific views of Sierra Nevada. The views are especially beautiful around sunset.
  • Read up about the Alcazaba and the Alhambra in general to enrich your visit. There are many articles available to quench your thirst for knowledge.
  • Be prepared to be surrounded by other tourists. The Alcazaba complex is large and has some interesting parts which are missed most tourists. Head to those places first and return to see the more famous ones later.

If you have not see the Nasrid Palaces yet the have a look at our Guides on visiting The Mexuar, The Comres Palace and the Palace of the Lions.

Tours and Activities from Granada

Latest Blogs from Granada

In the Alhambra, the Palace of the Lions or El Palacio de los Leones marks the highlight of its splendor. The Palacio de los Leones (Palace of the Lions) stands next to the Comares Palace but should be considered an independent building. The two structures were connected after Granada fell to the Christians. This palace was the private rooms of the royal family.

History of Palace of the Lions in Under a Minute

The Palace of the Lions changes subtly from the Palcio del Mexuar and the Palacio del Comres, with fewer  geometric decorations and a more naturalistic style. This is undoubtedly influenced Christian architecture and the increasing friendship between Mohamed V and Pedro I, the Cruel.

When Mohamed V succeeded his father Yusuf I (1377), he did not just complete the work that had begun, but began to build what would be his great work, the magnificent legacy he left us in the Alhambra: the Palacio de the Lions. 

Muhammad V built the Palace of the Lions’ most celebrated feature in the 14th century, a fountain with a complex hydraulic system consisting of a marble basin on the backs of twelve carved stone lions situated at the intersection of two water channels that form a cross in the rectilinear courtyard. 

A Tour of the Palace of the Lions

Palace of the Lions is located just after the Place of Comres and exits into the Partal Palace.

Room of the Mocárabes

Ceiling Of The Sala De Los Mocarabes
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Kolforn

The Sala de los Mocárabes or Room of the Mocárabes is the first room you will enter in the Palace. It is one of the most simple rooms in the Palace, and a soon as you enter your eyes will be drawn to the three arches on the east wall, and the view through them, which gives you your first sight of the Patio of the Lions.

The room received its name from the ceiling which was adorned with a magnificent muqarnas vault.  However looking up you will not discover it, as it was demolished after it was damaged in an explosion of a powder magazine in 1590. The ceiling you can see today is still impressive

Read more about the Sala de los Mocárabes

Patio of the Lions

Patio De Los Leones, Alhambra
Pixabay / Wilfried Santer

The Patio de los Leones or the Patio of the Lions,  is at the heart of the original place of the Palace. In the center of the patio is the La Fuente de los Leones or Fountain of the Lions, which spouts water from the mouths of twelve white marble lions. They are placed in a circle around a basin. There are four entrances to the patio and from each a channel of water flows to the center. The four channels are said to represent the four rivers of paradise.

Read more about the Patio de los Leones

The Hall of the Abencerrajes

CC BY-SA 2.0 / jvwpc

La Sala se los Abencerrajes or the The Hall of the Abencerrajes is the hall to the south of the Patio of the Lions. This was the kings bedroom. the alcoves to the east and west could have been partitioned with curtains for more privacy. In the center of the room is a small fountain which feeds the channel of water for the Fountain of Lions. The ceiling is of muqarnas whose stalactites like appearance combined with the pool at the bottom give this room a cave like appearance.

The room has a grisly legend associated with it. There was a rivalry between two powerful Granadan families, the Abencerrajes and the Zenetes. The Zenetes wished to destroy the Abencerrajes so they spread the rumor that one of their knights was having an affair with the kings favorite concubine. When the king heard he invited thirty-six knights from Abencerrajes family to a banquet in this hall. As they entered one by one the king decapitated each, throwing their heads into the fountain, which is still stained red with their blood.

Read more about the Sala de los Abencerrajes

The Kings Room

Paintings Of The 10 Kings, Sala De Los Reyes, Alhambra 2
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Junta Granada Informa

The Sala de los Reyes or The Kings Room is located to the east of the Patio of the Lions. This is the longest room of the palace and is split into three sections, between which are arches decorated with muqarnas. The ceilings have scenes painted on them. One is a scene with ten Nasarid nobles, thought to be kings and is where the room gets its name.

Read more about the Sala de los Reyes

The Hall of the Two Sisters

Vaulting In The Sala De Dos Hermanas, Alhambra 2
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Javier Puig Ochoa

The La Sala de las dos Hermanas or the Hall of the Two Sisters is located on the on the north side of the Patio de los Leones and the oldest of all those that surround the courtyard. Its name comes from the two central Macael white marble slabs on the ground. There is a dome of muqarnas which symbolizes the celestial vault.

The room was intended for the sultan’s favored wives or concubines ladies, who would have lived with some independence.

Read more about the Sala de Dos Hermanas

The Room of the Ajimeces

Doorway To Sala De Los Ajimeces, Alhambra 1
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Rumomo

The Sala de los Ajimeces or Hall of the Ajimeces is to the north of the Hall of the Two Sisters. This is a well lit room, due to its double twin balconies on its north wall and the entrance to the Mirador de Lindaraja. The room is rectangular and is covered by a dome of mocarabes from the 16th century. The walls are heavily decorated with plaster-work with religious inscriptions and coats of arms with the Nasrid motto.

Read more about the Sala de los Ajimeces

The Lindaraja Lookout

CC BY-SA 2.0 / Brett Hodnett

The El Mirador de Lindaraja or Lindaraja Lookout is a small room overlooking the gardens of Lindaraja. You enter it through a large archway of mocarabes. The lookout would have had views over the valley below, as the chambers further to the north were latter extensions built for Charles V.

Read more about the Mirador de Daraxa

Rooms of Charles V

Habitaciones De Carlos V, Alhambra 2
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Alberto-g-rovi

The Habitaciones de Carlos V or Rooms of Charles V were built around the Patio of the Iron Grille and the Gardens of Daraxa. They were built to house  Carlos V while his Palace was being built, although he never actually stayed in them. They are made up of six rooms, to which you are normally only allowed to visit the first two. As you walk through the first rooms look out of the windows and look for the elusive Comres Baths.

The four rooms you cannot enter are the rooms the Washington Irving lived in when he stayed at the Alhambra.

Read more about the Habitaciones de Carlos V

Queen's Dressing Room

Torre Del Peinador De La Reina, Alhambra 4
CC BY-SA 4.0 / LBM1948

The Peinador de la Reina or Queen’s Dressing Room was built around the year 1537 at the top of an existing tower and is so called because the Empress Isabel, Charles V’s wife, lived there. The original tower was built on the walk of the ramparts and it has a view over the whole valley of the river Darro. The tower was decorated by Yusuf I and finished by Mohammed V. During works carried out in 1831 a secret staircase was found that leads to the base of the tower.

Read more about the Torre del Peinador de la Reina

Patio of the Iron Grille

Fountain And Viewing Platform, Patio De La Reja, Alhambra
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Shesmax

The Patio de la Reja or Patio of the Iron Grille is so called because of the iron grilled balcony that was added to its southern wall in 1655. The patio was built at the same time as the Emperor’s Chambers. In the middle of the patio there is a stone fountain and in the corners there are hundred-year-old cypresses.

Read more about the Patio de la Reja

Gardens of Daraxa

Jardín de Daraxa
CC BY-SA 3.0 / AdriPozuelo

The Jardines de Daraxa or Daraxa’s Garden was originally a planted in the time of the Nasrid Princes. It was rebuilt between 1526 and 1538, when the Emperor’s Chambers were built.

In the garden there are cypresses,  orange trees and bushes which all surround the big central marble fountain. Originally the fountain was in the was in the Patio of the Gilded Room.

To the south of the patio, you can walk through the basements rooms below the Hall of the Two Sisters, which include a Hall of the Secrets. The room gets its name as if two people stand in opposite corners of the room and one of them speaks quietly towards the corner, the person in the opposite side will hear the words perfectly well. This is possible thanks to the acoustics provided by the special vault.

Read more about the Jardín de Daraxa

Best Tours to Visit Palace of the Lions

If you were wondering which tickets work best to explore the Palace of the Lions? Here’s our selection of the top 4 Alhambra Gardens tickets.

Tips on Visiting the Palace of the Lions

  • Brush up on your history — understanding the history behind the Alhambra is crucial to really immersing yourself in the visit.
  • An Audio Guide is helpful to guide you through the buildings and gardens without having to stop and read.
  • Bring snacks and drinks as there are limited options within.
  • Be prepared to be here for a few hours — wear comfy shoes, bring sunscreen or a jacket as the weather is changeable on the hill.

Palace of the Lions Opening Hours

The Alhambra Monument is open every day except 25th December and 1st January. The general visiting hours for the Alhambra are as follows:

Visiting Alhambra between 15th October – 31st March 

Monday – Sunday: 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM
Nasrid Palaces – Night session: (Fri to Sat) 8.00 PM to 9.30 PM
Generalife Palace – Night session: (Fri to Sat) 8.00 PM to 9.30 PM

Visiting Alhambra between 1st April to 14th October

Monday – Sunday: 8:30 AM to 8.00 PM
Nasrid Palaces Night session: (Tuesday – Saturday) 10.00 PM to 11.30 PM
Generalife Palace and Gardens – Night session – 1st April – 31st May: (Tues to Sat) 10.00 PM to 11.30 PM
Generalife Palace – Night session – 1st Sept – 14th Oct: (Fri to Sat) 10.00 PM to 11.30 PM

Getting to the Palace of the Lions

The Alhambra towers over Granada to the southeast of the old town. Two entrances are available – the pavilion main entrance to the far east of the Alhambra and near the Generalife and the Gate of Justice entrance closer to the old town but only for visitors with QR barcoded tickets.

Walking to the Palace of the Lions

It is at least a 15-minute uphill walk from Plaza Neuva to the Justice Gate and half an hour or more to the main entrance. Bearing in mind that a lot of further walking will be done inside the Alhambra, a taxi – around €8 – may be a sound investment.

Driving to the Palace of the Lions

Several parking lots are available near the Pavilion entrance – simply follow the signs for Alhambra parking. Driving is restricted in many parts of the old town – use the main roads circling around the center and approach the Alhambra by car from the south.

Bus to the Palace of the Lions

Bus C3 connects downtown (Plaza Isabel Catolica) with the Alhambra – use Generalife stop for main entrance or Justice Gate. This is a mini bus so may get full and best not used for time critical journeys.

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The Comares Palace was the official residence of the king and it comprises several rooms that surrounded the Patio de los Arrayanes. Its building was initiated by the Nasrid ruler of Granada, Ismail I (1314–25), and continued by Yusuf I (1333–54), though he was assassinated before he could complete the work. So Muhammad V finished it in 1370.

The Sultans wanted this palace to amaze the visitor, so he ordered the architects to build it and adorn it in a exquisite way. The Palace surrounds the Patio de los Arrayanes. The courtyard would be vitally important, it is the core of and building around which all the other rooms are distributed. 

Facade of the Palace of Comares

Patio Cuarto Dorado, Palacio Del Mexuar, Alhambra 1
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Øyvind Holmstad

Behind El Mexuar stands the formal and elaborate Comares façade set back from a courtyard and fountain. The façade is built on a raised three-stepped platform that might have served as a kind of outdoor stage for the ruler. The carved stucco façade was once painted in brilliant colors, though only traces remain.

A dark winding passage beyond the Comares façade leads to a covered patio surrounding a large courtyard with a pool, now known as the Court of the Myrtles.

Read more about the Facade of the Palace of Comares

Court of the Myrtles

Patio De Los Arrayanes With Palacio Carlos V Behind, Palcia De Comres
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Xavi

The Patio de los Arrayanes or Court of the Myrtles is the central courtyard of the Palacio de Comares. The elegant and tranquil space takes its name from the myrtle hedges that surround the beautiful reflecting pool. Finely carved arches atop marble pillars form porticoes at both ends of the patio.

Situated at the northern and southern and ends of the pool are the fountains, and behind the fountains are the corridors, each with seven exquisitely embellished arches. As you can see, the middle arch is higher than the other six.

This southern façade have wooden panels decorated with fretwork or intricate carvings and Koranic inscriptions. Across the center are lattice windows with a classic, Moorish arch design. The chambers that originally occupied the second floor were truncated during the construction of the adjacent Palace of Charles V.

The north end of the Court of the Myrtles is similar to the south, although single story.  In the background is Comares Tower, built in the first half of the 14th century.

Read more about the Patio de los Arrayanes

Sala de la Barca

Entrance To The Sala De La Barca, Palacio De Comares
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Ismael zniber

The Sala de la Barca or Hall of the Boat is entered via a pointed arch of mocarabes, in the northern gallery of the Court of the Myrtles.

The origin of its name is the Arabic word for blessing, and which seems to have degenerated into the Spanish word barca, which means boat. Although the shape of the ceiling does suggest the inverted hull of a boat, so that could be another reason for it. The original ceiling was destroyed by a fire in 1890 and it was replaced by a copy in 1964.

On the walls you will see plaster work with the Nasrid coat of arms and, inside it, the word “Blessing” and the dynasty’s motto “Only God is Victor”.

The ends of the hall were bedchambers, and the upper floors the Sultans winter quarters. The double arch in the northern wall leads to the Hall of the Ambassadors.

Read more about the Sala de la Barca

Hall of the Ambassadors

Salon De Embajadores, Palacio De Comres
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Shesmax

The Salón de Embajadores or Hall of the Ambassadors is the centerpiece of the Royal Palaces. The Hall is covered by a majestic dome of gilded wood. The ceiling, has a symbolic layout, emphasized the power of the Sultan, sitting on his throne and presiding over the room.

The lower part of the wall are tiles above which a rich plaster-work combines geometrical patterns with vegetal patterns decorated with leaf and flower motifs.

Read more about the Salón de Embajadores

Comres Baths

Bano De Comares, Palacio De Comares,Alhambra 5
CC BY-SA 3.0 / AdriPozuelo

As you walk down the eastern side of the Court of the Myrtles try and get glimpses of the Moorish baths of the palace. Although not normally open to the public, unless it forms part of the ‘Space of the Month’, you can see parts of it as you walk around here and in the Palacio de los Leones. The baths are two story and from the Court of the Myrtles you would enter and descend to the steam rooms.  The whole steam area of the hammam is covered with vaults perforated with a multitude of star shaped skylights, which were used for lighting and vents.

Read more about the El Baño de Comares

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The Mexuar was the first palace to be built by Ismail I at the start of the 14th Century. This became the semi public part of the palaces administering justice and controlling state affairs. It was partially destroyed by Yusuf II when he built the Comares Palace behind it in the mid 14th Century. This became the official residence of the ruler. The Palace of the Lions was added to this at the end of the 14th Century by Muhammad V and was the private area where the harem was and included the Royal baths.

Madrasa de los Principes

Torre De Mohamed, Alhambra, Grenada
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Øyvind Holmstad

While waiting to enter the Nasrid Palaces you will see stone walls in a garden. This was the Madrasa de los Principes, and at one time the main entrance to the Mexuar.

La Madraza was a school for studying science and philosophy. The Madrasa de los Principes or Madrasa of the Princes was exclusive for the children of the family of the Kings. There are only remnants of the Madraza left, but it probably contained a study hall, an oratory, and rooms for those who worked there. You can see one room that is at an angle, this would have been the minaret which points to the rising sun in a south easterly direction.

In Granada books and study were very important. Many manuscripts were translated to disseminate knowledge and information. Unfortunately not many of the manuscripts have survived because when the Christians conquered it, they burned many of them.

Read more about the Madrasa de los Príncipes

The Patio of Machura

Patio De Machuca, Palace Of Mexuar, Palacio Nazaries, Alhambra 2
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Rumomo

The next part of the Mexuar we come to is the Patio of Machuca, at the moment this has a portico to the north and hedge to the south and west.

The Patio of Machuca would have been a courtyard with buildings or Porticos built around it. In the center, would have been a pool shaped like the Roman nymphaea. Water would flow into it from the various round fountains flowed into the pool. The cypress trees to the south were planted at the beginning of the last century to simulate the portico that would have stood there, miroring the portico to the north.

It is called the Patio of Machuca as this the architect of the Palace of Charles V, Pedro Machuca lived in the small tower to the North. You can see the Patio of Machuca from just before entering the the main entrance to the Mexuar, of from the windows in the Sala de Mexuar.

Read more about the Patio de Machuca

Torre de Manchura

Alhambra 967024
https://pixabay.com/photos/alhambra-granada-andalusia-spain-967024/ / Pablo Valerio

Behind the northern portico of the  Patio of Machura you can see the roof of the Torre de Manchura. This is where Pedro Machuca, and his son Luis Machuca lived.

Read more about the Torre de Machuca

Sala del Mexuar

Sala Del Mexuar, Alhambra 9
© 2023 Andrew Ashton

At the normal entrance a passage leads directly into the Sala del Mexuar.

This room is the first one that you will enter in the palace. It was used as a council chamber and as a waiting room for the people who wanted to see the Sultan after climbing up  from the Albaicin through the Gate of Arms. Most of the public would not have been allowed beyond this point. The chamber has been altered considerably since the time it was built.

In the 16th century it was converted into a baroque chapel to celebrate the visit of King Philip IV. A second story was added behind the wooden balustrade, for the choir to be sat. Two coats of arms were added to the south wall which would have formed twin Hercules Columns on them with the missive “Plus Ultra”, with a crown above them. One has now been moved to the east wall, as it was moved when the entrance way was added. You can see its crown carved into the stone, above the doorway.  The alter would have been positioned between the two.

Look out for:

  • You can look out of the windows on the west wall for a closer look at the The Patio of Machura.
  • Look at the repeating Islamic tiles of the dado, probably dating from the sixteenth century, and the work of a Sevillian potter, Juan Pulido.
  • At the top of the dado the repeated inscription “al-milk li-l-lah, al qudra li-l-lah, al-´iza li-l-lah”, which means “The kingdom of god, the greatness of God, the glory of God”.
  • The crown above the doorway.
Read more about the Sala del Mexuar

Oratorio de Mexuar

Oratorio De Mexuar, La Alhambra, Granada 3
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Alejandro Moreno Calvo

At the far end of the Mexuar a new entrance leads into the Oratory, a small, narrow room whose outer wall is in effect one long balcony, though divided into twin windows. The mihrab is accurately placed and points ESE; it is built as a horseshoe arch, richly ornamented, and bears Arabic inscriptions, of which the aptest is that which says, ‘Don’t be one of the remiss. Come to prayer.’ This is only one of the spots from which a glorious view of the Albaicín and the mountains can be enjoyed, though a wider panorama will present itself later.

Read more about the Oratorio de Mexuar

Patio del Cuarto Dorado

Patio Cuarto Dorado, Palacio Del Mexuar, Alhambra 1
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Øyvind Holmstad

The Patio del Cuarto Dorado or Patio of the Golden Room is small and plain. During the Christian period wooden gallereies connected the higher chambers. The floor is laid with white marble slabs and a low, shallow fountain of darker marble in the form of a scalloped bowl plays in the center. The fountain is a reproduction with the original being moved to the Jardín de Daraxa.

Geometric tile mosaics adorn the lower walls and patterned ones surround the rectangular doorways. The one leading north into the Patio del Cuarto Dorado is a horseshoe, on slender columns with mocárabe or stalactite imposts. The upper windows are once more partly ajimez, with wooden jalousies.

Read more about the Patio del Cuarto Dorado

Cuarto Dorado

Arabesque, Cuarto Dorado, La Alhambra, Granada
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Javierbl 90

The Cuarto Dorado or Gilded Room is so called because of the beautiful coffered wooden ceiling, which was gilded and redecorated in the time of the Reyes Católicos (Catholic Monarchs. It is a small room entered through a series of three arches; it is in line with the Oratory, at the back of the mihrab, and has the same glorious view from its windows. It was decorated in the Mudéjar style by the Catholic Sovereigns.

Read more about the Cuarto Dorado

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Abu Abdullah was the twenty-second and last Nasrid ruler of Granada in Iberia. Boabdil is a Spanish rendering of the name Abu Abdullah. Boabdil was born in the Alhambra Palace his father was Abul Hassan Ali, who was also known as Muley Hacén and his mother the Sultana Aixa.

From the start, a shadow lay over him, as court astrologers predicted that he would suffer great misfortune, to the extent that he became known by the nickname El Zogoibi or the Unlucky One. 

Later his nickname would begome “el rey chico” or “the small king” which did not have anything to do with his stature but referred to the size of his ever-diminishing kingdom!

If you’ve seen paintings like “La rendición de Granada” by Francisco Pradilla; or a series like “Isabel” or “Réquiem por Granada” you’ll already have an image of what this king looked like: brown skin, jet black hair… but it seems that Boabdil was blond, tall, and pale.

Alhambra – a Palace of Treachery

When he was born the Alhambra was under the rule of his Grandfather the Sultan Abu Nasr Sad, and was a Palace of violence and treachery. In 1461 the his grandfather wanted to rid himself of the powerful Abencerrajes family, who had always been his supporters and promoters. The terrible story goes that he invited them all to a banquet at the Alhambra and had nearly the entire clan slaughtered there, including his own minister Mufarrij. Only a few escaped and fled to Malaga.

In 1464 Boabdil would have been about five when his grandfather was overthrown by his father, in a Palace coup. His grandfather was placed under house arrest in Salobreña castle,  and died a year later.

His father, Abul Hassan Ali, known by the Spaniards as Muley Hacén, He was known to them as Muley Hacén, ‘Muley’ being the Castilian version of the Arabic for ‘My Lord’ and ‘Hacén’ the Christian version of his own name, Hasan.

He gave his name to the highest mountain peak on the Iberian Peninsula, Mulhacén, where it is said he was buried.

Amidst this treachery and treason Boabdil’s early education would have begun at the age of five, sometimes at the mosque of the Alhambra but also with private tutors in the Madrasa de los Príncipes. He would have studied the Koran thoroughly, and learned not only arithmetic, Arabic grammar, poetry, logic, algebra, science, history, law and theology, but also how to ride, and to use a lance and sword.

His father was supposed to be a cruel and aggressive character and started his reign by trying to eradicate the surviving members of the Abencerrajes family. The Abencerrajes in turn through their support behind the king’s brother, Abu Abdallah Muhammad, known as El Zagal – the Valiant, and proclaimed him as their Sultan.

His father turned his attentions on constant attacks on the Christians. These raiding parties forced the enemy to sign a series of truces, leading to a relatively long period of peace from 1465 until about 1481. The peace was helped by the War of the Castilian Succession (1475 – 1479) between Isabella, who was married to Ferdinand, heir to the Crown of Aragon, and Portugal. By 1479 there was peace with Portugal and Castilian and Aragon united under the Catholic Monarchs.

At the same time the Sultan seemed to undergo a breakdown, devoting his time to pleasure and dancing girls, growing more confused and began to decline. This may have been brought on by a series of portends from the Kings Astrologers, from the appearance of a comet, horrific flooding of the River Daro, and predictions of an ancient weathercock.

A Woman Scorned

Boabdil’s mother was a powerful Nasrid princess, said to have been descended in a direct line from the Prophet Muhammad. She was the daughter of Muhammad IX (1396–1454), and the widow of Muhammad X (1415–1454), who was the eighteenth Nasrid Sultan who had been executed by Abul-Hasan on behalf of his father, Sa’d.

For the first twenty years of marriage war peaceful and Boabdil had a younger brother and sister.

The sultan had organised an attack on the small Christian town of Aguilar in 1471, and the raiding party captured Isabel de Solís, the daughter of the knight commander of the town. The young girl was very beautiful and of good appearance and they called her Zoraya, which means ‘lamp’ in Hebrew. At first she was a slave but caught the eye of the king. Abul-Hasan, fell in love and married Zoraya. He gave her land, houses and a privileged position at court. He lived with her in the Comares tower.

Aixa on the other hand had been banished to the rooms surrounding the Patio of the Lions with her children and loyal servants and advisers and the king never spoke to her or saw her.

When Zoraya gave birth to two sons, the Royal Princes Sa’d and Nasr there was a threat posed to Boabdil, and the position for Aixa became intolerable.

A Desperate Escape to Guadix

In 1482 it is thought that two Abencerrajes knights had heard of a threat to the life of Boabdil and his brother Yusef. They conceived a dramatic plot to remove the reigning sultan and replace him with Boabdil. They arranged a time for men to wait with horses next to an irrigation channel on the outskirts of the Generalife gardens. The two princes, using rope, climbed down the side of the tower that they were imprisoned in. They made their way to Guadix, where Boabdil was declared Sultan and they gathered their troops and waited for an opportunity to strike.

After an escalation of raids the Christians lead a successful surprise attack on Alhama and then an unsuccessful one on Loja. Abul-Hasan took his troops and defended Loja. While Abul-Hasan was celebrating the victory at Loja, the news reached him that, with the help of the Abencerrajes, his son had arrived in Granada, and occupied the Alhambra. Boabdil’s father retreated, for the next year he governed Malaga and Ronda which Boabdil controlled Granada and Almeria.

In 1483 Abul-Hasan enjoyed a great victory against the Christians, who had tried to capture Ajarquía, in Malaga. He also retaliated by seeking a proclamation from the clerics that Boabdil’s claim to the throne was not legitimate. The clerics agreed that Boabdil had broken his oath of fealty and had been consorting with Christians.

Boabdil Caputured

Not to be outdone and to gain more prestige, Boabdil endeavored to invade the region of Castile, unfortunately things did not go as planned and he was captured and imprisoned in the castle at Lucena for three years.

Boabdil’s father took back Granada in 1483 and Yusef retreated to Almeria. However his father began to suffer bouts of illness, to the extent that in September 1484 he was unable to take part in a battle due to a form of epilepsy which gave him seizures and bouts of blindness.

Seizing the advantage Boabdil’s brother El Zagal declares himself Sultan and the country erupts into Civil War. El Zagal is victorious and sends his brother like his father before him to Salobreña castle, where he soon died.

The Fall of Granada

In 1487, three years after his capture, in exchange for his freedom, Boabdil agreed to govern Granada under the Catholic kings, to released 400 Christian slaves and to pay them 12,000 gold doubloons.

The next six years saw more frequent civil wars and internecine strife, greatly favoring the ever-stronger Christian forces who took the Moorish cities one by one and eventually laid siege to Granada. The city fell on 2 January 1492 and, four days later, after total capitulation by its inhabitants, the reconquista came to an end.

Departure of the Boabdil family from the Alhambra
Departure of the Boabdil family from the Alhambra

From this magnificent center of culture, of science and learning, of glorious art and architecture, Boabdil was expelled and the armies of Fernando and Isabel, the Reyes Católicos, or Catholic Kings, raised the Christian cross on the Alcazaba alongside their royal standards of Castile and Aragón.

Boabdil was granted a fiefdom in the region of Las Alpujarras and left Granada by the southern route to La Zubia. About 12 kilometres from the city he paused at a mountain pass and looked back at Alhambra and sighed for what he had lost. His mother travelling with him is said to have been somewhat unsympathetic, telling him: “You do well to weep like a woman for what you could not defend like a man.

Farewell from King Boabdil to Granada - Alfred Dehodencq
Farewell from King Boabdil to Granada – Alfred Dehodencq

They moved to Andarax and there they remained until the Castilians, recanting once again on their agreements, decided to expel them from Spain.

Thus, in October, boabdil, his mother Fátima, his sister, his son Ahmed and Yusef together with a small retinue, left from the harbour at Adra towards Africa. Morayma “the only woman Boabdil was Known to have loved”, says one chronicler, “the only being who could have made the suffering of his exile bearable”, died a few days before leaving the Alpujarras.

Boadbil lived in exile for less than a year in the Alpujarras before travelling to Fez in Morocco where he died fighting other battles in 1527.

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The Nasrid dynasty was the last Moorish and Muslim dynasty in Spain. The dynasty rose to power after the defeat of the Almohad Caliphate in 1212 at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa. Twenty-three different emirs ruled Granada from the founding of the dynasty in 1232 by Mohammed I ibn Nasr until January 2, 1492, when Muhammad XII surrendered to the Christian Spanish kingdoms of Aragon and Castile.

Muhammad I (1195 – 1273)

Muhammad I was the first Nasrid Sultan and ruled between 1232 and 1273. In 1232 Muhammad ibn al-Ahmar the ruler of Jaen rebelled against the leader of Al-Andalus, Ibn Hud. While he did briefly take control of Córdoba and Seville, he lost both cities to Ibn Hud and was forced to acknowledge Ibn Hud’s suzerainty. In 1236, Muhammad I switched sides and joined forces with the Catholic monarch Fernando III to conquer Cordoba in exchange for the city of Granada. He became a tributary vassal of the Christian king Ferdinand III of Castile and later of Alfonso X.

He installed his capital in Granada from 1237 and lived in the Alcazaba, built by the Zirids in the 11th century. He began extending this and building the Alhambra. He added three new towers to the Alcazaba, which were the Torre Quebrada, Torre del Homenaje and the Torre de la Vela.

He concentrated on protecting his modest territories, which included the cities of Malaga and Almeria. The emirate spanned 240 miles between Tarifa in the west to Almería in the east, and was around 60 to 70 miles wide from the sea to its northern frontiers. In 1248 he helped the Christian kingdom take Seville from the Moors. He died in 1273 after falling off his horse and was succeeded by his son, Muhammad II.

Muhammad II – The Wise (1235 – 1302)

Muhammad II was the second Nasrid Sultan and ruled between 1273 and 1302. He was caught between Castile to the north and the Muslim Marinid state to the south. He survived through diplomacy and battle.

Muhammad III (1257 – 1314)

Muhammad III was the third Nasrid Sultan and ruled between 1302 and 1309. Succeeded his father possibly after poisoning him. Initial military successes allowed him to control Ceuta in North Africa. This worried Castile, the Marinids, and Aragon who allied against him.

El Palacio Del Partal, Alhambra
El Palacio Del Partal, Alhambra

He was responsible for the construction of the Great Mosque of the Alhambra as well as the Palacio de Partal within the Alhambra. He also oversaw construction of a nearby public bathhouse, the income from which paid for the mosque. He resided in the Alcazaba, while the palaces were being built and was the last Nasrid to do so. From then on, the Alcazaba was only used as a fortress for military purposes. 

Later in his life, he became visually handicapped and his Vizier grew in power. Muhammad was replaced by his half-brother Nasr in 1309 after a palace revolution.

Nasr (1287 – 1322)

Nasr was the fourth Nasrid Sultan and ruled between 1309 and 1314. Despite gaining peace with Castile, he was deposed in 1314 by Ismail I.

Ismail I (1279 – 1325)

Ismail I was the fifth Nasrid Sultan and ruled between 1314 and 1325. He was assassinated on 8 July 1325. It is thought that Ismail I built the Mexuar and the Puerta de las Armas. He was the grandson of Sultan Muhammad II, the second Nasrid king.

Torre De La Vela, Alhambra
Torre De La Vela & Puerta de las Armas, Alhambra

Muhammad IV (1315 – 1333 )

Muhammad IV was the sixth Nasrid Sultan and ruled between 1325  and 1333 and was Ismail I’s son. He succeeded his father at ten years old. Like his father Ismail I, he was assassinated and succeeded by his younger brother.

Yusuf I – He who is aided by God (1318 – 1354)

Yusuf I was the seventh Nasrid Sultan and ruled between 1333 and 1354. He established peace with Alfonso XI of Castile for four years and then allied with the Marinid dynasty to attack him. Yusuf I was assassinated whilst praying in a mosque in Granada at the age of thirty-six and was succeed by his son Muhammad V.

Yusuf constructed the Puerta de la Justicia, forming the grand entrance to the Alhambra in 1348. There was a palace by the Great Mosque which Yusuf I destroyed completely. He started some improvements in the Torre de Comares‎, the Patio de los Arrayanes and the El Baño de Comares.

Bano De Comares, Palacio De Comares,Alhambra 5
Bano De Comares, Palacio De Comares, Alhambra

Muhammad V – He who is contented with God (1338 – 1391)

Muhammad V was the eighth Nasrid Sultan and ruled between 1354 and 1359, temporarily deposed then ruled between 1362 and 1391. He was overthrown in 1359 his half-brother Ismail II and sought protection with the Marinid sultan of Fez. Ismail II himself was was overthrown and murdered within a year by his half brother Muhammad VI in 1360. Muhammad V plotted his return to power for three years. He was assisted by King Peter I of Castile (Pedro el Cruel) who lured Muhammad VI to Seville, and cut his head off. Muhammad VI returned and sat on the throne for another 29 years.

Patio De Los Arrayanes With Torre De Comres Behind, Palcio De Comres 3
Patio De Los Arrayanes With Torre De Comres Behind, Palcio De Comres

Muhammad V is best known for completing the many changes to the royal palace started by his father like the Torre de Comares, the Patio de los Arrayanes and the Comares Baños. He then extended the gallery that would later be called Machuca and constructed the Palacio de los Leones and the Cuarto Dorado.

David Roberts Patio Of The Lions
David Roberts Patio Of The Lions

Ismail II (1338 – 1360)

Ismail II was the ninth Nasrid Sultan and ruled between 1359 and 1360. He conspired with his mother, his full blood sister and her husband Muhammad VI to take control of the kingdom and depose Muhammad V, who escaped.

The Black Death, which reached Spain in 1348, and together with the internal wars that weakened Christian Castile, there was relative peace between Granada and Castile.

Muhammad VI – Victor by the grace of God or The Red King (1332 – 1362)

Muhammad VI was the tenth Nasrid Sultan and ruled between 1360 and 1362. After helping his brother in-law Ismail II depose the king he then deposed Ismail II. He was known in Spanish as El Bermejo for his red hair.

Yusuf II (1376–1417) 

Yusuf II was the eleventh Nasrid Sultan and ruled between 1391 and 1392. He was the eldest son of Muhammad V.

Muhammad VII (c. 1370–1408)

Muhammad VII was the twelfth Nasrid Sultan and ruled between 1392 and 1408 and was the was the son of Yusuf II. In 1394, he defeated an invasion by the Order of Alcántara. He signed peace treaties with Aragon and Navarre.

Yusuf III (1376–1417)

Yusuf III was the thirteenth  Nasrid Sultan and ruled between 1408 and 1417 and was the was the older brother of Muhammad VII. When his father died Yusuf was imprisoned in Salobreña, as a result of involvement in a conspiracy so did not initially inherit the throne.

Palacio De Yusuf III, Alhambra 5
Palacio De Yusuf III, Alhambra

Yusuf had constructed the northernmost of the Nasrid dynasty palaces on the hill of the Alhambra. Unfortunately the Palacio de Yusuf III was destroyed in the Christian period.

The Nasrid Civil Wars – the Bannigas and Abencerrajes

There was a rivalry between the two rival families, Bannigas and Abencerrajes. They would each support an opposing kings in a series of rebellions.

In 1431, there were several claimants to the throne of Granada.

The Castilian Catholic King John II, would also lend support to different sultans. He supported Muhammad IX in overthrowing Muhammad VIII, he then supported Yusuf IV in overthrowing Muhammad IX.

Muhammad VIII – The Left Handed (1411–1431)

Muhammad VIII was the fourteenth Nasrid Sultan and ruled between 1417 and 1419, then 1427 to 1429 and was son of Yusuf III. In 1418 he aided the Marinid Sultanate in the Seige of Ceuta, which was held by the Portuguese. He was deposed twice by Muhammed IX, and saw the start of the decline of Granada.

Muhammad IX (1396–1454) 

Muhammad IX was the fifteenth Nasrid Sultan. He held Granada 4 different times over a period of thirty five years.

He was supported by the Abencerrajes family who wished to oppose Muhammad VIII. He held the throne for eight years between 1419 – 1427 before his high taxes caused a rebellion, and his exile to Tunisia and Muhammad VIII’s return to rule. He returned 2 years later and successfully besieged and then executed Muhammad VIII.

He ruled from 1430 – 1431, but after loosing the Battle of Higueruela in 1431, he lost popular support and the aid of the Abencerrajes family, when rebellion broke out he retreated to the city of Malaga.

The usurper Yusuf IV, became the sixteenth Nasrid Sultan in 1432. He was supported by the Abencerrajes family and King Juan II. His sultanate did not last long due to his unpopular treaties with Castile. Muhammad IX returned, acclaimed as liberator and Yusuf IV was executed.

Muhammad IX fought the Christians for seven years before a truce was declared in 1439.

In 1445 Muhammad IX had to fight against his nephew Yusuf V. Muhammad IX abdicated and retreated to Malaga. Yusuf V became the seventeenth Nasrid Sultan when he took over Granada in 1445.

Yusuf V ruled for a year before being replaced by Muhammad X who was the the eighteenth Nasrid Sultan and reigned between 1446–1448. He was dethroned Muhammad IX after a couple of years.

Muhammad IX remained Sultan for the next seven years before dying of natural causes in 1453.

Muhammad XI- The little (1420 – 1455)

Muhammad XI was the nineteenth Nasrid Sultan and ruled between 1451–1455. He was the son of Muhammed VIII. His ascension to the throne was supported by Muhammad IX. He vigorously attacked the powerful Abencerrages family. He ruled the eastern part of the Nasrid Kingdom with his rival and successor in the west. He was strangled by order of the new sultan Abu Nasr Said.

Abu Nasr Sad –  Zaid Muley (C1450 – 1465)

Sad was the twentieth Nasrid Sultan and ruled between 1455– 1462 and again from 1462 to 1464. He rose to power with the aid of the Abencerrages family. He had spent much of his life at the Court of Castile-León, protected by King Enrique IV. Although a promoter of peace he had a number of clashes with Enrique IV, and lost Gibraltar in August  1462.

Earlier in the year in July 1462, the Emir of Granada, Abu Nasr Sad, had opposed the Abenseragi clan and killed members of the clan in the Alhambra, with other family members fleeing to Malaga. In September they proclaimed the new Emir of Yusuf V. In November they had occupied the throne of Granada and Yusuf V was Sultan for a second time. Unfortunately he dies one month later.

In August 1464, Abu Nasr Sad, was removed from the throne by his eldest son and heir, Abul al-Hassan Ali, who was supported by the Abenseragi clan.

Ali Abu’l-Hasan – Muley Hacén (c 1430 – 1485)

Ali Abu’l-Hasan was the twenty-first Nasrid Sultan and ruled between 1464–1482 and 1483 – 1485 and was the son of Sa’d. Muley being derived from Arabic Mawlay and meant “My Lord“. In 1462, he defeated the Castilians in the battle of Madrono. In 1477 he refused to pay tribute to the Crown of Castile.

In 1481 Ali Abu’l-Hasan ordered an invasion to the city of Zahara de la Sierra by surprise, killing and enslaving the unarmed Christian Zaharans. This action was taken by Isabella I of Castile as a reason to start the war against Granada War (1482 – 1491). The ten-year war was not a continuous effort but a series of seasonal campaigns launched in spring and broken off in winter.

He fell in love with a Christian slave named Isabel de Solís, she converted to Islam and became his wife Zoraida or Soraya.

Muhammad XII – Boabdil (c. 1460 – 1533)

Muhammad XII Abu Abdallah was the 22nd and last Nasrid Sultan he ruled between 1482–1483 and 1487 – 1492.  

His nickname of ‘el rey chico’ (the small king) did not in fact have anything to do with his stature but referred to the size of his ever-diminishing kingdom.  He was also called el zogoybi, the unfortunate.

In 1482 there was an uprising by the population against the extraordinarily high taxes.

Following this, instigated by his mother, Aixa, a jealous wife, Boabdil rebelled against his father, Muley Hacén, with the aid of the Abencerrajes family seized the Alhambra in 1482 and was recognized as sultan. Muley Hacén was driven from the land and took refuge with his brother in Malaga.

After a failed invasion of Castile he was taken prisoner and Boabdil father retook the throne in 1483 until 1485. His father was deposed his brother, Boabdil’s uncle, Muhammad XIII.

Boabdil gained his freedom and Christian support to recover his throne, if he held Granada as a vassal state to the Catholic monarchs.

Muhammad XIII – The Brave – El Zagal

Muhammad XIII Abu Abdallah was the twenty-third Nasrid Sultan and ruled between 1485 – 1486. He was Muley Hacén’s brother and the governor of Malaga. In 1482 he fought with his older brother against the forces of his nephew, Boabdil. In 1483 when his nephew is captured his brother retook the throne. His brother suffered from epilepsy and possibly went insane, so Muhammad XIII with the assistance of the vizier took the throne in 1485. A year later in 1486 Boabdil had been released and in 1487 El Zagal, retreated from Granada to his lands of Malaga , Almeria and Guadis. By 1490 he had lost his lands to the Castilians and fled to North Africa to raise more troops. In 1491 he was captured by king Fez of Morroco, a friend of Boabdil and blinded, dying three years later.

The Fall of Granada

By the end of 1491, the armies of Ferdinand and Isabella were at the gates of Granada itself. Muhammad XI secretly agreed to hand over the city to the Christians. He reunited with his eldest son Ahmad.

The Fall Of Granada 1492
The Fall Of Granada 1492

On January 2, 1492, as he left the city with his wife Moraima, the rest of his family and retainers, he paused to look back at the Alhambra palace, which his ancestors built two hundred and fifty years before, and the whole of Granada. “Allahu akbar!” he said, “God is most great,” and burst into tears. His mother Aisha chided him: “You do well to weep like a woman, for what you could not defend like a man.” The spot where Muhammad XI took his farewell bears the name “el ultimo sospiro del Moro” which translates as “the last sigh of the Moor.”

Gustave Dore Crusades An Enemy Of The Crusaders
Boabdil – The Moors Last Sigh

The family retired to an estate in the Alpujarras Mountains. Moraima died soon afterward, and was buried in Monjudar. Muhammad XI crossed over to Morocco. He never returned to Spain.

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The Alhambra is one of the most popular tourist sites in Spain. It is an ancient palace and fortress situated on the outskirts of the town of Granada in Andalusia. It was constructed by the Moors who invaded the country in the 8th century, and is a fine example of the hybrid style known as mudéjar art and a powerful symbol of Spain’s multicultural past.

The Alhambra was so called because of its reddish walls, in Arabic it was called “qa’lat al-Hamra” which means Red Castle. It is located on top of the hill al-Sabika, on the left bank of the river Darro, to the west of the city of Granada and in front of the neighborhoods of the Albaicin and of the Alcazaba

Early History of the Alhambra

The first signs of construction date back to at least the Roman times and can be attributed to the site’s advantageous position with good visibility of the surrounding area. Overlooking the valley of the river Darro on its northern side and the  valley of al-Sabika on its southern side. 

In 711 Arab and Berber forces crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and within seven years rapidly established a measure of Muslim control and effectively conquered the Iberian peninsula. 

The first historical documents known about the Alhambra date from the 9th century and they refer to Sawwar ben Hamdun who, in the year 889, had to seek refuge in the Alcazaba, a fortress, and had to repair it due to the civil fights that were destroying the Caliphate of Cordoba, to which Granada then belonged.

This site subsequently started to be extended and populated, and a Jewish grand vizier built a place on the hill of the Albaicin for his  Zirid sultan. 

Nasrid Dynasty and Alhambra

La Alhambra David Roberts in 1835
La Alhambra David Roberts in 1835

It was in 1237 that the first king of the Nasrid dynasty the Moorish emir Mohammed ben Al-Hamar (Mohammed I, 1238-1273) secured this region. He established the royal residence, the Alhambra, on Sabika hill the following year.

Mohammed first concern was to strengthen the defenses of Alcazaba protected by three great towers known and the Watch Tower, The Homage Tower and the Quebrada Tower.

Water was fed from the river Darro by canal, warehouses were built and the palace and the ramparts were started. These two elements were carried on by Mohammed II (1273-1302) and Mohammed III (1302-1309), who also built public baths and the Mezquita, on the site of which the current Church of Saint Mary was later built.

David Roberts Patio Of The Lions
David Roberts Patio Of The Lions

It was started to be turned into a royal palace by Yusuf I (1318 – 1354), and finished by his son Muhammed V (1338 – 1391). They made improvements to the Alcazaba and the palaces, to the Patio de los Leones and its annexed rooms, including the extension of the area within the ramparts, the Justice Gate (Puerta de la Justicia), the extension and decoration of the towers, the building of the Baths (Baños), the Comares Room (Cuarto de Comares) and the Hall of the Boat (Sala de la Barca).

Hall Of The Kings David Roberts
Hall Of The Kings David Roberts

The palace was designed in the typical fashion popular among Muslim rulers on the peninsula at the time, featuring the presence of horseshoe arches, arabesques and calligraphy.

Patio De La Alberca Tourist In Spain Granada 1835 David Roberts
Patio De La Alberca Tourist In Spain Granada 1835 David Roberts
Tower Of Comares, Fortress Of The Alhambra, 1837 David Roberts
Tower Of Comares, Fortress Of The Alhambra, 1837 David Roberts

Catholic Monarchs and Alhambra

From the time of the Catholic Monarchs until today we must underline that Charles V ordered the demolition of a part of the complex in order to build the palace which bears his name. We must also remember the construction of the Emperor’s Chambers (habitaciones del Emperador) and the Queen’s Dressing Room (Peinador de la Reina) and that from the 18th century the Alhambra was abandoned.

Charles V, who ruled in Spain as Charles I (1516–56), ordered the construction of the Emperor’s Chambers (habitaciones del Emperador) and the Queen’s Dressing Room (Peinador de la Reina ). He also destroyed part of the Alhambra in order to build an Italianate palace designed by Pedro Machuca in 1526.

Destruction and Restoration

During the years 1700’s and 1800’s the Alhambra was occupied by beggars and the homeless. In 1812 during the Peninsular War, Alhambra was used as a barracks. Some of the eastern towers were blown up by a French force under Horace-François-Bastien Sébastiani, during their retreat. The rest of the buildings narrowly escaped the same fate.

In 1821 an earthquake caused further damage to the complex. An extensive repair and rebuilding program was undertaken in 1828 by the architect José Contreras and endowed by Ferdinand VII in 1830. After the death of Contreras in 1847, his son Rafael continued his work for nearly four decades.

The Alhambra was declared a national monument in 1870. Upon Rafael’s death in 1890, he was succeeded by his son, Mariano Contreras Granja (died 1912). Additional restoration and conservation work continued through the 21st century.

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