One of Spain’s most popular tourist attractions, the Alhambra is a palace and fortress dating back as far as the 9th century. The Alhambra was built during the period of Islamic rule in Spain, which began in 711.
Originally built as a fortification, the Alhambra was converted into a palace in the 14th century by Sultan Yusuf I and his son, Mohammed V. Granada was the last Muslim realm in Spain, until it fell to the Christians in 1492 during the Reconquista. The Alhambra (meaning ‘The Red’ in Arabic) then became a palace for Christian rulers, and new churches and monasteries were built on the site, alongside the original Arab-influenced architecture. However, the Alhambra later fell in to disrepair for several centuries, before being rediscovered and restored in the 19th century.
There is plenty for visitors to see around the Alhambra, including palaces, a guard room, two rectangular courtyards (the patio de Los Arrayanes and the Patio de Los Lames) and gardens, as well as workshops, shops, baths and a mosque. Rooms feature marble columns, stalactite cupolas and ornamental stucco works. There are a number of water features including the circular fountain of the Court of Lions as well as cascades. The church of Santa María was built in the 16th century on the site of the royal mosque. There is also an area of dense woodland containing English elms, brought over by the Duke of Wellington in 1812. The Alhambra is enclosed by a fortified wall with towers.