The Alhambra Castle and Fortress in Granada has to be one of the most visited places in Spain with five to eight thousand visitors a day from all over the world. This giant castle and fortress compound spans over 35 acres and is covered in the most stunning gardens I have ever seen. This spectacular Palace, Fortress and Gardens takes over five hours to explore but truly the most amazing aspect of this visit are the gardens of the Alhambra. The flowers, the fountains, the reflecting pools, the kitchen gardens, the orchards, each and every part of the landscape at this thousand year old complex is awe-inspiring. It is now one of Spain’s major tourist attractions, and showcases the country’s most significant and well-known Islamic architecture, combined with 16th-century and later Christian building and garden designs. I was so in awe of the gardens here that most of my photos are of the palace gardens and a few pictures of the palace itself. Here is a look at the gardens of the Alhambra.
The Alhambra Castle and Fortress
The Alhambra is one of the best representations of the culture of the last centuries of the Muslim rule of the Spanish Andalusia region. The castle and gardens are a testament to the Moorish culture in Spain and the joint skills of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian artisans, craftsmen, and builders of their era.
Originally constructed as a small fortress in AD 889 on the remains of Roman fortifications, the Alhambra complex was rebuilt in the mid-13th century by the Nasrid emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada. After the Christians conquest of Granada in the Spanish Iberian Peninsula in 1492, the site became the Royal Court of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella where Christopher Columbus received his royal endorsement for his expedition.
The White Villages of the Andalucía Region can be seen from every vantage at the Alhambra
The Water Features at the Gardens of the Alhambra
To think that more than seven hundred years ago the Moors had already figured out how to bring running water from the Sierra Nevada Mountains using hydrolysis and sophisticated plumbing to the Alhambra complex for their gardens, their kitchens, baths, and pools is truly mind-blowing. As you will see in the pictures below there are over hundred water features at the Alhambra both in the gardens and inside the castle. Water and soothing sounds of water are an integral part of the Muslim garden landscape and the Alhambra is the best example of this.
The flower gardens at the Alhambra
Though different Muslim rulers who lived in the complex extended the Alhambra, each new addition followed a consistent theme of “paradise on earth.” With architectural features such as fountains, columned arcades, running water, and reflecting pools that were all used to add beauty to the complex, the park which is usually overgrown with wildflowers and grass in the spring, was planted by the Moors with roses, oranges, and myrtles to create a feeling of an oasis.
Bees and Butterfly Attracting Garden and the Kitchen Gardens
Kitchen gardens were an integral part of the Alhambra landscape as they not only provided produce for the residents but also attracted beneficial bees and butterflies.
Lemon groves and orange groves grown for their fragrant flowers and their fruit.
Hundreds of orange and lemon trees were planted on the grounds to provide fragrance and for the added benefit of their fruit. These trees not only fragranced the gardens when they were in bloom but also provided cool shade in the sweltering summer months.
A look at the interior courtyards and rooms of the spectacular Alhambra.
The palace complex was designed with the mountainous terrain in mind and many forms of technology were considered during their construction. Through all the additions certain features were given priority such as allowing the sun and wind to flow freely through the rooms, and the use of soothing colors such as blue, red, and golden yellow to create a sense of calm.
The Alhambra Castle in Granada, Spain is truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. A one of a kind castle and gardens that even when touring in 100-degree temperatures felt calm, cool, and soothing. A beautiful place like no other.