Granada - Exploring the Alhambra

If there is one reason to visit Granada, the Alhambra is it.  This Moorish palace and fortress is the number one tourist attraction in Spain and site of the Moors' last stand during the Christian re-conquest of Spain.  We decided to walk up to the Alhambra which takes about 30 minutes from the center of Granada.  Our timed entry ticket was on the early side so we left right after breakfast and had the streets to ourselves.  We passed through the entrance gate and started a fairly strenuous climb.
A cross marked the start of the forested path to the top.
 The trees still showed residual signs of Autumn.
We passed a number of statues and fountains along the way.
We finally arrived at the Alhambra.  We had a few minutes before our timed entry to the palace so decided to explore the Alcazaba or fortified area in the far west of the complex.
We enjoyed sweeping views of Granada and could even see Placeta St. Nicolas, the viewpoint in the Albayzin where we'd spent the previous afternoon.
The fortifications were definitely solid and intimidating.
We passed through a secluded garden on our way out of the Alcazaba.
We headed toward the main grounds of the Alhambra.  Additional fortifications were evident.
 We had a quick look inside the church on site.
We were finally ready for our timed entrance to the Nasrid Palaces, the centerpiece of the entire complex.  We reveled in the architectural details from the colorful geometrically patterned tiles...
...to carved wooden ceilings...
...to doors and windows framed by Moorish arches.
Bubbling fountains lent a sense of calm and peace to the space.
Intricate carvings overwhelm the walls.
The Arabic symbol for Allah is a recurring motif.
Finely decorated ceramic vases added depth and texture to the scene.
The sun shown on the outdoor courtyards reflecting into the pools of water.
The throne room featured vaulted ceilings with an astronomical feel.
We particularly enjoyed the ambiance of the stately Court of the Lions.
The security guards even let down the rope barrier to give visitors a closer look at the courtyard.
Sprawling domes conveyed a grandeur to the Alhambra.
We emerged from the The Nasrid Palaces and headed to the Palace of Charles V.
We noted spectacular architectural details on the outer walls.
The Palace of Carlos V was never completed as the king got bored with Granada and decamped to Madrid.  What remains is a circular open courtyard and the Museum of the Alhambra which is worth quickly perusing.
After a brief detour through the baths at the Alhambra we set about exploring the outdoor gardens and spaces.
We spotted two lonely persimmons hanging from a tree.
We followed the gently trickling water along our route.
Gnarled trees added texture and interest to the gardens.
We stopped to admire additional fountains on the upper terrace of the gardens.
We set our sights on the Alhambra Summer Palace.
Ambling through the Jardines del Portal, we spotted this stunning bird - a Yellowhammer.
The fortifying wall snakes through the gardens.
We also spotted a few hardy pomegranates on the nearly bare trees.
We soon arrived in the gardens of the Generalife.  Intricate fountains and coiffed hedges ruled the scene.
Even though we were visiting in late December, a few rugged blooms made an appearance.
We particularly enjoyed the elaborate fountains on site.
We looked back at the church and palaces of the main Alhambra complex and realized how far we had gone.
Faded purple climbers clung to the walls.
The walls of the Generalife sported large windows with views of Granada below.
We exited the Alhambra via a trellised walkway that was pretty bare in the winter.
This red squirrel seemed to be pointing the way to the exit.
We wound our way back down through the forested path once more.
A trickle of water along the road led us toward the entry gate and back into the now bustling town.

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Sidewalk Safari: Granada - Exploring the Alhambra
Granada - Exploring the Alhambra
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Sidewalk Safari
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