A Weekend at the Alhambra in Granada, Spain
Granada, Spain is the capital of the Province of Granada and in the autonomous community of Andalusia in southern Spain. Although Granada is only an hour from the Mediterranean Sea, the city sits at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
Some people would argue that southern Spain is most well-known for the olives or almonds that are grown but Granada is most famous for the Alhambra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was originally a military fortress in the 9th century but emerged as a major post of the Muslim Nasrid kingdom from the 13th to the 15th centuries. In the late 15th century (1492 was an exceptionally good year for the Spanish), the Alhambra was captured by the Spanish monarchs (Fernindad and Isabel) and except of a brief period when the French controlled the area in the early 1800’s, the site has remained under Spanish control.
Granada is easily accessible by air (45 minutes from Madrid or 90 minutes from Barcelona) train (4 hours, 25 minutes from Madrid), or auto (400 kilometers or 240 miles from Madrid). The airport is approximately 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the Alhambra and the train station is 4 kilometers (2.4 miles) away. For complete train schedules, go to the official website for Renfe: www.renfe.com
On-site is the Parador de Granada which is the most convenient place to stay. Located on the grounds of the Alhambra, the 15th century convent that was converted to a parador (hotel) is hugely popular so make reservations well in advance because there are only 40 rooms.
The parador has a restaurant, bar, outdoor garden areas, air conditioning, wifi, and parking. Rates start at 175 Euros ($225) per night, including breakfast but check the website for promotions and packages. The hotel is not grand but the convenient location makes up for any deficiencies in the rooms and the restaurant on-site eliminates the need to drive into Granada.
The parador is about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the airport and 4 kilometers (2.4 miles) from the train station.
- Palacios Nazaries
- Palacio Carlos V
To see and fully appreciate the Alhambra, a weekend or two-day stay should be considered. This Alhambra is one of the most popular tourist sites in Spain and the number of visitors are tightly controlled to avoid overcrowding which means tickets should be purchased in advance. However, tickets can be purchased on-site at the ticket office but be prepared to stand in line.