Palacio Nazaríes

Palacio Nazaríes information

Location
Granada , Spain
Address
Calle de Real de Alhama
Telephone
+34 902 44 12 21
More information
www.alhambra-patronato.es
Prices
adult/EU senior €10/€5, disabled & child under 8 free
Opening hours
08:30-20:00 Mar-Oct, to 18:00 Nov-Feb, closed 25 Dec & 1 Jan, night visits 22:00-23:30 Tue-Sat Mar-Oct, 20:00-21:30 Fri & Sat Nov-Feb
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This is the Alhambra's true gem, the most brilliant Islamic building in Europe, with its perfectly proportioned rooms and courtyards, intricately moulded stucco walls, beautiful tiling, fine carved wooden ceilings and elaborate stalactite-like muqarnas vaulting, all worked in mesmerising, symbolic, geometrical patterns. Arabic inscriptions proliferate in the stuccowork.

The Mexuar, through which you normally enter the palace, dates from the 14th century and was used as a council chamber and antechamber for audiences with the emir. The public would have gone no further.

From the Mexuar you pass into the Patio del Cuarto Dorado, a courtyard where the emirs gave audiences, with the Cuarto Dorado (Golden Room) on the left. Opposite the Cuarto Dorado is the entrance to the Palacio de Comares through a beautiful façade of glazed tiles, stucco and carved wood.

Built for Emir Yusuf I, the Palacio de Comares served as a private residence for the ruler. It's built around the lovely Patio de los Arrayanes (Patio of the Myrtles) with its rectangular pool. The southern end of the patio is overshadowed by the walls of the Palacio de Carlos V. Inside the northern Torre de Comares (Comares Tower), the Sala de la Barca (Hall of the Blessing), with a beautiful wooden ceiling, leads into the Salón de Comares (Comares Hall), where the emirs would have conducted negotiations with Christian emissaries. This room's marvellous domed marquetry ceiling contains more than 8000 cedar pieces in a pattern of stars representing the seven heavens of Islam.

The Patio de los Arrayanes leads into the Palacio de los Leones (Palace of the Lions), built under Mohammed V - by some accounts as the royal harem. The palace rooms surround the famous Patio de los Leones (Lion Courtyard), with its marble fountain channelling water through the mouths of 12 marble lions. The palace symbolises the Islamic paradise, which is divided into four parts by rivers (represented by water channels meeting at the fountain). The patio's gallery, with beautifully ornamented pavilions at its ends, is supported by 124 slender marble columns.

Of the four halls around the patio, the southern Sala de los Abencerrajes is the legendary site of the murders of the noble Abencerraj family, whose leader, the story goes, dared to dally with Zoraya, Abu al-Hasan's favourite. At the eastern end of the patio is the Sala de los Reyes (Hall of the Kings), with leather-lined ceilings painted by 14th-century Christian artists. The name comes from the painting on the central alcove, thought to depict 10 Nasrid emirs. On the northern side of the patio is the richly decorated Sala de Dos Hermanas (Hall of Two Sisters), probably named after the slabs of white marble at either side of its fountain. It features a fantastic muqarnas dome with a central star and 5000 tiny cells, reminiscent of the constellations. This may have been the room of the emir's favourite paramour. At its far end is the Sala de los Ajimeces , with low-slung windows through which the favoured lady could look over the Albayzín and countryside, while reclining on ottomans and cushions.

From the Sala de Dos Hermanas a passage leads through the Estancias del Emperador (Emperor's Chambers), built for Carlos I in the 1520s, some of them later used by Washington Irving. From here, descend to the Patio de la Reja (Patio of the Grille) and Patio de Lindaraja and emerge into the Jardines del Partal , an area of terraced gardens. Leave the Partal gardens by a gate facing the Palacio de Carlos V, or continue along a path to the Generalife.

Every ticket for the Alahmbra is stamped with a half-hour time slot for entry to the Palacio Nazaríes. Once inside the palacio you can stay as long as you like. The Palacio Nazaríes is also open for night visits. Tickets cost the same as daytime tickets: the ticket office opens 30 minutes before the palace's opening time, closing 30 minutes after it. You can book ahead for night visits in the same ways as for day visits.