The history of Granada is somewhat distinctive from most of Spain. Lying just a couple of hundred kilometers from Morocco, this part of Spain has experienced the best of the Moorish era. Till date, the way of living in this part of the country, its architecture and culture, still blatantly reflects its quintessential Andalusian roots. Granada’s Alhambra is a prime example and a testament to its origins.
Within the limits of Alhambra is the Alcazaba, a walled fortification meant for the rulers and their subjects. According to some sources, Alhambra’s Alcazaba was said to be built around the 11th century. This later became the last Moorish stronghold, and as such, is at the center of historical attention. It is also a bustling tourist attraction. So if you plan to visit the Alcazaba at Alhambra, make sure you book your tickets in advance.
Alcazaba Granada - History Under a Minute
History dictates that there was some sort of construction already present at the current Alcazaba site before it was transformed into the structure we see today. There are contradictory historical accounts regarding the final additions to the Alcazaba. The Broken Tower (Torre Quebrada), the Keep (Torre del Homenaje), and the WatchTower (Torre de la Vela) were subsequently added to shape it into a stronghold.
The king, Mohammed I is said to have initially established a residence there and was succeeded by his son, Mohammed II who lived there for a short while too. After the palaces were completed, the Alcazaba was used exclusively for military purposes. When the Christians subsequently took over, they carried out restorative work on the structure and transformed it into the state prison. Until the late 19th century, the Alcazaba lay unattended and since then different parts of the Alcazaba were explored and restored to the current state.
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Highlights of the Alcazaba Granada
Puerta de las Armas
There are a number of spectacular viewpoints at the Alhambra. Puerta de las Armas also features a striking door that has been the main access to the Alhambra until the 14th century from the forest of San Pedro. Due to its unique strategic position, Puerta de las Armas could control the path leading to it right from the Albaycín neighborhood. Puerta de las Armas is also one of the main buildings that are present at the Alcazaba. Lying to the West of the Tower of Arms, Puerta de las Armas takes up the entire lower level.
Torre del Homenaje
The trapezoid enclosure existed in Granada before the Alcazaba was set up. During its Moorish heydays, Torre del Homenaje held immense defensive importance due to its impressive altitude. When the Nasrid dynasty moved to Alhambra, the erstwhile ruler Mohamed I established his first tower at the Torre del Homenaje. The Alcazaba walls were strengthened and it was transformed into an impregnable fortress with the introduction of Torre del Homenaje. The structure is quite unremarkable and utilitarian in terms of architectural decoration.
Torre de la Vela
This tower is one a recognizable feature at the Alcazaba owing to its flags and the bell tower. Torre de la Vela has become a significant part of Granada’s present lifestyle. The bell is used by farmers to mark any alteration in irrigation cycles. The bell tower has also been replaced and repositioned multiple times. Currently, four flags are flown on the tower: the European flag, the Spanish flag, the Andalusian flag, and the Granadian flag. The tower used to serve as the living quarters of the bell ringers during the time of the Catholic Monarchs.
Plaza de las Armas
Plaza de las Armas or the Arms Square was the official entrance to the Alcazaba. The structure comprised of a number of constructions that offered various services to the inhabitants of the fort. A rainwater cistern and a supposed bath lie on either flank of the Plaza de las Armas. In the middle of it, the foundations of several houses were discovered which is believed to belong to the residents, including the civil population and military personnel. A dungeon is also present near the Broken Tower.
Plaza de Los Aljibes
In the paved trench between the Alcazaba and the palaces, lies the Plaza de Los Aljibes, or the Square of the Cisterns. The name is, of course, derived from the cisterns that were built in the square at the end of the 15th century. The cisterns were 34 meters in length, 6 meters wide and 8 meters high. When these cisterns were buried, it formed a large esplanade between Puerta del Vino, Palacio de Carlos V, and the palaces. Plaza de Los Aljibes affords wonderful view of the Albaicin, the city ahead, and the Sacromonte.
Your Alcazaba Granada Experience
The Alcazaba played an instrumental role in the Andalusian history. A visit to this fortress is certain to help you understand the culture of Granada.
A trip to the Alcazaba begins at the gate at Torre Quebrada. On your right you will find the Torre del Homenaje, the highest tower in Alhambra, offering a great view of Granada. Next, you reach the Torre de la Vela followed by Jardín de Los Adarves. This garden has a famous inscription near its entrance. The inscription roughly translates to, “Give him alms, woman, for there is nothing sadder in life than being blind in Granada”. As you explore the garden that was once used for military purposes, ask the locals about the fascinating story about the gold that funded the construction of the garden.
Read our A-Z Guide on Visiting Alhambra Palace to plan your visit better.
Best Alhambra Tickets With Alcazaba Access
Skip The Line Tour to Alhambra, Generalife, Alcazaba + Nasrid Palaces
Take a 3-hour guided tour of the entire Alhambra complex, that includes the Carlos V Palace, Generalife Gardens, Medina, the Alcazaba Fortress and the famous Nasrid Palaces, accompanied by either an official bilingual, English, French or Spanish-speaking guide.
Skip The Line: Alhambra, Generalife, Alcazaba, Nasrid Palaces with Audioguide
Enjoy an audio guided tour of the Alhambra Palace complex and admire the Generalife, the Alcazaba and the Nasrid Palace at your leisure pace. Walk through the passages and admire the different styles of architecture of the Palace, starting from the starting from Mexuar to the Court of Lions.
Skip The Line Tour to Alhambra, Generalife and Alcazaba
Gain fast-track access to the Palace of the Alhambra and Alcazaba and admire the historic Generalife in the company of a professional guide. Admire the incredible architecture of the Palace and the Generalife and walk through the lush greenery of the gardens before making your way back to the city.
Skip the Line Guided Tour of the Alhambra Palace and Generalife
Gain skip-the-line access to the Alhambra palace and the Generalife gardens. Marvel at the architectural brilliance of Alhambra and bask in the splendour of the Generalife gardens. Be accompanied by a bilingual tour guide, who speaks both English and Spanish.
Small Group Tour to Alhambra, Generalife and Alcazaba + Nasrid Palaces
Benefit from seamless fast-track access to the Alhambra, including access to the Nasrid Palaces, the Alcazaba and the Generalife Gardens in the company of a professional multi-lingual guide in a group of less than 20 guests. This tour runs in English, French, German and Spanish.
Premium Tour: Alhambra, Generalife, Alcazaba + Nasrid Palaces
Enjoy a delightful tour with a group of 10 or less for an intimate and unforgettable experience. Benefit from seamless fast-track access to the Palace of the Alhambra, the Alcazaba and the historic Generalife in the company of a professional guide.
Private Tour: Alhambra, Generalife, Alcazaba + Nasrid Palaces
Visit the Alhambra Palace on this Private tour with access to the Nasrid Palaces, Alcazaba, and the Palace of Charles V. Take in the breathtaking view of the Generalife gardens and marvel at the artworks at the Alhambra Museum. Your private official guide will assist you in either English, French, and Spanish.
Exclusive After Hours Guided Tour of Alhambra + Nasrid Palaces
Explore Alhambra with an exclusive after-hours tour for a limited number of people. Pass by the beautiful Generalife gardens and admire the Nasrid artworks at the Alhambra Museum, nestled inside the Palace of Charles V. Choose between English, French, and Spanish for your tour.
Alhambra Surroundings Tour
Enjoy a delightful stroll in the Alhambra Palace complex on this immersive guided tour in English. Your guide shall regale you with tales of the area's Moorish past as well as detailed accounts of the Nasrid's lives and histories. Also, enjoy incredible views of the Albaicín, a revered UNESCO World Heritage Site in all its glory!
Read more about the Top Alhambra Tours & Tickets to choose one that suits you and your budget best.
Getting to Alcazaba Granada
If you are already in Granada, you could take a walk down Cuesta de Gomérez from Plaza Nueva. The 15 minutes’ pleasant walk takes you to the Gate of Justice after passing through the woods.
If you are getting there by car, you will only be allowed to take the vehicle up to Paseo de la Sabica and then opt for paid parking nearby. You can also take a taxi to the Alhambra and then walk to the Alcazaba. The closest entrance would be from Torre Quebrada, which will take you the Torre del Homenaje next. This route will end your tour at Torre de la Vela and Plaza de Los Aljibes.
Alcazaba Granada Opening Hours
From April 1 to October 14
Day Visit : Monday through Sunday
- Hours - 8:30 AM to 8:00 PM
- Ticket Office Hours - 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM
Evening Visit : Tuesday to Saturday
- Hours - 10:00 PM to 11:30 PM
- Ticket Office Hours - 9:00 PM to 10:45 PM
From October 15 to March 31
Day Visit : Monday through Sunday
- Hours - 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM
- Ticket Office Hours - 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Evening Visit : Friday & Saturday
- Hours - 10:00 PM to 11:30 PM
- Ticket Office Hours - 9:00 PM to 10:45 PM
The Alhambra Palace is open every day of the year, except 25th of December and January 1st
The last visit to the Nasrid Palaces will be one hour before the closing time.
Tips For Visiting The Alcazaba
- Buy your Alcazaba entrance tickets online and well in advance. The Alhambra attracts the most number of tourists in this part of the country and you wouldn’t want to miss out.
- Remember that the time mentioned on your tickets are for Nasrid Palace visit. Start with the palaces and then come to the Alcazaba to give yourself enough time.
- If you're fit, climb the towers and consume terrific views of Sierra Nevada.The views are especially geat around sunset.
- Read up about the Alcazaba and the Alhambra in general to enrich your visit. There are many articles available to quench your thirst for knowledge.
- Be prepared to be surrounded by other tourists. The Alcazaba complex is large and has some interesting spots skipped by most tourists. Head to those places and return for the more famous ones later.
- Have any questions lurking your mind about Alhambra Granada? Read our complete FAQS Guide to Alhambra and have your doubts answered.
Granada’s Alhambra is popular worldwide for its distinctive experience with religious history. Millions of tourists pour into the Alhambra to encounter this historical site. Alcazaba, owing to its existence from before the Moorish establishment, attracts a major portion of Alhambra-bound tourists. Not only is the Alcazaba an architectural marvel, but it is also one of the most assertive defensive strongholds of its time. Yet the Alcazaba is not short of visually pleasing spots like the Ramparts Garden. Alcazaba remains relevant to the inhabitants of the area even to this day. It is undoubtedly one of the hottest historical tourism destinations in all of Europe.
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