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
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 impressiveRead more about the Sala de los Mocárabes
Patio of the Lions
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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