To get to the Alhambra, you will have to go up a hill, which indicates, excuse the truism, that it is a high point. The classic site for a fortress of any era or place.
This is because, although it has palaces and exuberant gardens, the wonder that you are about to visit was originally a fortification. And according to some theories, they called it “qa’lat al-Hambra” or “red castle”. We bet that the Granada sunsets have a lot to do with this name.
So before having an Arabian name and getting full of latticework and beauties, the place was a defensive bastion for other inhabitants of the area. They say it could’ve been the Iberians… or the Romans… but it is not known for sure. What seems clear is that the walled structure of the citadel has too many straight lines for the Muslim taste of that time.
In the eleventh century, the city became the capital of the Kingdom of Taifa, and things and more things started to rise in the old fortress, which, over the years would give shape to this amazing ensemble that you can see today together with its 10,000 inscriptions, most of them poems, sentences and texts from the Koran.
The first Nazarite King of Granada was established here in the thirteenth century, and during the following century, most of what has been left for us was built. Later, with the city already in Christian hands, Carlos V would reform some things to accommodate him on his wedding trip. He also ordered to build here the Renaissance palace that bears his name. A full-fledged whim since, apparently, he never got to stay in it.
Given the beauty of the place, it is not surprising that the successive Spanish Kings loved it. And even if they alternated with other places in Seville, Madrid or Valladolid, what is in this hill is so magical that everyone who visited fell in love with it.
One of this people was Washington Irving; he dedicated much time and effort to the Alhambra, in which he arrived in 1829 and had the incredible luck to live in, while he wrote stories. Stories placed in places like the Tower of the Infantas where he could imagine Felipe V and Isabel de Farnesio, just as you can imagine Boabdil in The Tower of the Seven Floors. That sultan who, according to his mother, despite being born in the Alhambra, could not defend Granada as a man. She was the one who said the famous phrase: “Weep like a woman for what you could not defend like a man.”
Here, your fantasy and your feet have a long way to go, starting with the towers and the Palace of Comares with its Patio de los Arrayanes. In the last one, you will come to think of Moorish Kings lying back, looking at the water of the pool and listening to the lute of the Odalisques while the Christians were making noise at the borders of weakened Andalusia.
You will also be perplexed with the mysterious Patio de los Leones, in which sculpted in stone, the Lyons hold the fountain, despite the fact that the Koran prohibits representative figures of animals. There is no idea of what they mean. They say that it could be the signs of the Zodiac, but so many things are said about this place…!