The Alhambra & Generalife

We will explain how to get there and give you maps and bus timetables with advice on where to go and what to see in Granada.

For Tailor-made Holidays and Summer ‘House-stays’ there is the possibility of obtaining tickets for the International Music and Dance Festival performances held at the Generalife outdoor theatre in June and July. – see To get there see bus timetables in English.

The Alhambra: is an outstanding example of Islamic art, but it was more than just a palace, it was a complete city built over several centuries.  It stretches along the crest of a wooded hill overlooking Granada with the oldest part, the citadel or Alcazaba, in the most prominent point above the city. 

The name of the Alhambra probably originates from the Arabic word for the red oxidized soil from which it is built, ‘al-hamra’,  but it may also refer to Muhammad ibn al-Ahmar ibn Nasr, the first of the Nasrid dynasty, by whom it was founded in 1238.  

The Alcazaba was a military building and was originally isolated by a gully from the later, splendid residential palaces built by Yusuf I (1333-54) and his son Muhammad V (1354-91).  The three interconnecting palaces that remain are the Mexuar, the Comares and the Palace of the Lions.  Around these would have been mansions, private houses and a mosque of which little remain.

After the reconquest of 1492 there were many alterations, including the conversion of the mosque into the church of Santa Maria de la Alhambra, and the large baroque Palace of Charles V was begun. 

Opening times:   8.30 am. to 8 pm. in summer and from 8.30 am. to 6 pm. in winter every day of the year except 1st January and 25th December. To see its location go to

Tickets: In order to avoid over-crowding the entrances are limited and we recommend that you pre-book tickets well in advance.    However, a certain number of tickets are always available on the day but you must be there by or before opening time.  You can jump the queue by using one of the newly installed ticket machines that take credit cards. 

The Generalife: is the last remaining of the many pleasure gardens that once existed on the Cerro del Sol – the Hill of the Sun,- where the Sultans could escape from the pressures of government. 

It is believed that the name derives from the Arab word ‘djennat’ meaning orchard, garden or paradise, and the word ‘al-arif’ meaning architect or master builder. (It is pronounced:’ Hen-er-al-eef-ey’, with the accent on the penultimate syllable). 

Its most distinguishing feature is the abundance of water, which results from the great engineering ability of the Moors.  When he started his city, Ibn al-Ahmar first constructed the Royal Waterway which took water from the River Darro, six kilometers up stream, to the Alhambra via the Generalife, where it enters cascading down the handrail of the stairs.

"All the arts have enriched me with their own special beauty and given me their splendour and perfection." - from a poem inscribed above the Mirador de Lindaraja, Alhambra.