Friday, February 22, 2013

Alhambra Part 2: Palace Nazare

In my Alhambra Part 1 post I shared the beauty and magnificence of Generalife Gardens, one of four sites to visit in the ancient fortress of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.  But the crown jewel of the complex is the Palace Nazare, also known as the Nasrid Palace, as it represents perhaps the finest Islamic architecture in all of Europe.

The Nasrids were the last remaining Muslim dynasty on the Iberian Peninsula and were responsible for the construction of the Palace Nazare, although many reconstructions and alterations were made over time by later Spanish royalty.  In fact, the Royal Palace is actually a number of palaces built together, each with differently decorated and designed rooms and courtyards that were used by the Muslim rulers for various purposes.

Be sure to rent audioguides or take a guided tour so that you can learn and fully appreciate the delicate stonework, frescoes, tilework, exquisite art, and history of the grandest and most visited site in Spain.  It is a truly fascinating cultural experience.

The first series of rooms you will enter in the Royal Palace is the Mexuar where the Sultan met with his ministers and the public.  There are lovely views of the city below from here.

Next is the Mudéjar style Golden Room, with its beautiful three-arched portico, where the 14th century Sultan made his important military decisions and the officials and secretaries of the Muslim court took their orders.

At the entrance to the Golden Room.

Opposite the Golden Room is the entrance to the Serallo and its various rooms and courtyards.  The Serallo was the official residence of the Sultan and its rooms surround the Patio of the Myrtles with its large reflecting pool.

The Patio of the Myrtles, facing south.
The Patio of the Myrtles, facing north, to the Comares Tower.

The majestic façade of Comares, opposite the Golden Room.
Notice the woodwork in the eaves.

At the north end of the Patio of the Myrtles, inside the Comares Tower, lies the luxuriously decorated Chamber of the Ambassadors, also known as the Throne Room, the largest room in the Nasrid Palace.  The walls of this room are completely covered with artwork of tile, geometric plasterwork, and inscriptions, and the ceiling is a stunning wooden dome symbolizing the seven heavens.

Chamber of the Ambassadors.

No water in the fountain when we visited -
under renovation.
My favorite part of the Royal Palace is the Court of the Lions, named after its central fountain with twelve lions, built during the 14th century reign of Muhammad V.  The fountain and courtyard are surrounded by an exquisite arched gallery supported by 124 marble columns of the finest Moorish artistic style.  The Sultan's harem was housed in the rooms around this courtyard.

You will exit the Royal Palace through the Court of the Lindaraja but there is still so much to see.

The Court of the Lindaraja.

After walking outside a landscaped path you come to the Partal Palace and its gardens.  The palace's portico, pavilion, five arches, and tower are the oldest (1302 - 1309) structure of the Alhambra.

Partal Palace and its reflecting pool.

St. Mary's Church of the Alhambra lies along the same path (which used to be the Royal Road to and from the Nasrid Palace) and was built in the 17th century on the site of the Alhambra's Great Mosque.  Visit inside to view the outstanding Baroque altarpiece and several Spanish works of art.  Then easily spend another leisurely hour strolling the stunning grounds.

This post is my Friday link-up to Photo Friday at

Read Alhambra Part 1:  Generalife Gardens here.
Read Alhambra Part 3:  Palace of Charles V here.


  1. Wonderful pohotos! Alhambra is one of the dreams of mine.. Every time I see your posts I must praise you for your courage, will and good planning for all those trips with children. Is there anything better?

  2. What a beautiful palace - your photos do a wonderful job of capturing it! The landscaping and the gardens look as lovely as the palace. Your posts about Spain have really made me want to visit there - particularly today when it is snowing AGAIN!!

  3. This is a lovely post, and I have to go back and see your part one! You sure capture the beauty of these places! Enjoy!

  4. You've probably been to NYC a million times, but I posted a whole bunch about that trip if you're interested, at that same time. My girls (14 and 16) are planning a trip to Lyon this summer to stay with an old friend of mine. Dad isn't on board yet, so we'll see. :) Any tips on that region? I just discovered it's cheaper to fly into Lyon than Paris in July! I need more tips from a seasoned traveler!

    1. How exciting for your daughters! I have never been to Lyon but they will have so much to see in Paris, maybe the Loire Valley, maybe even a short train ride to Belgium! I will be checking out your blog on NYC - we'll be there in April!

  5. And P.S., I loved the Alhambra when I was there in '91. Your pictures are fantastic.

  6. Beautiful pictures! I can't get over how gorgeous and detailed these structures are. We really need to go back to Spain just to see more of these castles and palaces and especially the Alhambra. Great family picture!

  7. Alhambra is one of the beautiful destinations in the world. It looks like heaven on the earth. I love Alhambra.

  8. Spain is so beautiful and you do a wonderful job of capturing its allure.


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