Afternoon at the Alhambra

The pathways were lined by legions of slender towering cypress trees, dark green tips meeting the deep blue sky in stark contrast. The hedges, so neatly trimmed, sharp edges lining the gardens. Orange trees, with bright citrus orbs peeping out from so many green leaves. A magnificent view of the city showcasing tiny buildings lining the hillside. Opaque white fluffy clouds floating against a deep blue sky. Beautifully patterned stone paths greeted our feet. We wandered in and out of shaded gardens, relishing spots of direct sunlight, then slowly meandering on. At every turn there was a gentle trickle of water, making me suddenly feel calmer, more serene. We oohed and aahed at courtyards, at arches, at views. We stopped for long moments, staring at the views before us.

Our ticket for the main palace had a time stamped entry for 16:30. We got to the line at 16:15. There was no one in line, no other tourists in sight. We approached the ticket taker. “No. Not time.” We shrugged, then sat down on a bench nearby, basking in the sunshine. I was drifting into sleep when the others said, “It’s time” and we re-entered the line.

The palace, so unassuming on the outside, was magnificent on the inside. Glazed tile in deep blues, greens, and yellows lined the walls. Faded blue tile peeked up from the floor. Ceilings offered intricate wood carvings. Views of the city appeared through intricately carved windows. Fountains met us at every turn.

Each time we entered a new part of the palace we stopped in our tracks, amazed by the beauty before us. How did they make such incredible architecture? How did they carve such intricate designs? How did they coordinate work teams with no smart phones?

We walked back to the city, quietly reflecting on all the beauty we had seen.

About Lori McLeese

I love to laugh, travel, and write. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to visit 51 countries and look forward to continuing to explore this fascinating world we live in. I’m currently working with the wonderful folks at Automattic, focusing on HR.
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151 Responses to Afternoon at the Alhambra

  1. Seeing your pictures brought back some awesome memories from my time in Granada. thanks!

  2. Jean says:

    Love the calligraphy intertwined with the architecture!

  3. Jeni says:

    The Alhambra is the only “touristy” place I’ve ever visited where I bought a photo book, because I despaired that my own pictures could never do justice to its stark beauty. Your photos are fantastic!

  4. denimfish says:

    Brings back memories of a beautiful place.

  5. i like the quietly reflecting picture at the end

    • Lori says:

      Thank you! We were the only ones walking through that section of the garden. It’s hard to imagine that in such a touristy spot as the Alhambra you can be alone, but you can!

  6. Remi Zaidan says:

    Magnificent and fascinating site indeed!
    I also keep a great memory of an afternoon at the Science Park from my stay at Granada!
    Most people don’t know the site but as a science geek I couldn’t have missed it! ;)

  7. Loved your photos! Recently saw a video about the recently restored Alhambra Theater.

  8. Michele LMS says:

    Great post! . . . Wonderful to experience the wonders of the Alhambra through your descriptive writing. Really enjoyed the intricate Islamic architecture. Thank you for sharing!

  9. Your words and pictures took me back to my visit of the Alhambra, truly a work of art! Great post!

  10. Gorgeous – thank you for the pics and the post!

  11. Oh my gosh! I’ve been there before back in 2007! This was during my high school winter break for an entire week traveling all over Espana. If I could go back, I would! I fell in love with the architectural design, especially the calligraphy! You were very fortunate to have nice weather. It was all overcast when we went. Here’s a picture: . Thank you so much for sharing!

    Related Articles:
    For a few more pictures from Spain, check out, “Thinking Outside the Fingers; Linguistic Enthusiasm and Cultural Awareness,” at I mention my linguistic enthusiasm for studying foreign languages and then dive straight into the cultural awareness with my travel stories. I hope you enjoy it! Thanks again for the trip down Memory Lane!

    • Lori says:

      We’ve been so fortunate to have sunshine every day during our stay here! I enjoyed your article about Linguistic Enthusiasm – thanks for the link.

  12. ayeshha says:

    some nice photography you did lovely

  13. Angela says:

    i remember visiting the alhambra in 2007, it was truly astonishing. thanks for sharing such intricately detailed memories:).

  14. ottomandandy says:

    You conquered my heart with lovely alhmbra pics…

  15. Awesome ! You should also visit Langkawi, you’ll love it, check out our post about it.

  16. love the tilework and carvings. was the carving done in stone or wood? looks like it must be stone but can’t believe how intricate the detail looks in that medium.

    • oops, I think you mentioned that the carvings were done in wood. in that case, I wonder how it seems to have aged so well.

    • Lori says:

      I think most of the carvings are in stone, which makes me even more curious about how they were able to create them and have them appear so perfect – no room for error. The doors, and several of the ceilings, are wooden, but most of the walls were stone or marble.

  17. beautiful pictures :) thanks for sharing!

  18. Beautiful photos.After reading ur stuff i would definatly visit this place soon.

  19. Your post gave me a sense of this place–its colors, sounds, and aromas. Beautifully done.

  20. amelie88 says:

    Been to the Alhambra twice. It’s a beautiful place and visiting never gets old. Though your feet hurt after spending a day in there because there is so much to see! Beautiful pictures. :)

  21. Beautiful photos and description. Visiting Granada is one of my favorite travel memories.

  22. segmation says:

    What beautiful digital pictures! Thanks for sharing. Do you have a favorite?

  23. David says:

    I laughed about your waiting to wait in line! We did an afternoon and an evening entry. Dinner was slow, so we rushed back up the hill to get there in time, and again were told “not time”.

  24. missmay says:

    Your pictures brought back great memories. What a beautiful place! Thanks for sharing!

  25. I visited the Alhambra in 1988. I’ve traveled to many places since that time but it remains one of the most beautiful and moving places I’ve ever been to.

    Thanks for posting!

  26. Wonderful post and photos! You must have had a fabulous time! It brings back memories from long ago, when I was a high school student on a week-long trip to Spain. Our hotel was in Costa del Sol, and early in the evenings we would watch the fishermen pulling their boats and nets onto the beach. We took the ferry to Morocco, and a friend of mine smuggled a mug full of hashish back across the Strait of Gibraltar. (I shudder to think what would have happened to him had he been caught.) But the highlight of the trip was the Alhambra…

    • Lori says:

      Thank you! Isn’t it wonderful when you can relive something you’ve experienced through words or pictures? That’s one of my favorite things about blogging – going back and reliving memories.

  27. Cheri Lucas says:

    Love your photographs and descriptions here of this serene and stunning place. So glad to have strolled these grounds with you!

  28. I’m green with envy! Have to include Granada to my bucket list next year since this year is already full! Happy travelling. :=)

  29. 1920sass says:

    La me encanta! Estudie en Granada la primavera pasada.

  30. Lori, This is gorgeous … and wonderfully told. We were there a few years ago and were gobsmacked for the same reasons as you. How did they create this beauty? Congrats on the FP – so well deserved. All the Best, Terri

  31. I was at Alhambra last year and first time in Andalucia and Granada as well. What a beautiful region! Would love to go back to Alhambra in Spring or Summer when the flowers are out. Did you do night tour? Lovely photos btw.

    • Lori says:

      We did an afternoon tour. A night tour would be fantastic, though. Our lodging was at the base of the Alhambra, so each night coming home from dinner we looked up at the Alhambra, illuminated by spotlights. Equally beautiful.

  32. Soul Walker says:

    I may have to put this on my list of places to visit. Also, I loved the question with the smartphones. Congratulations on being freshly pressed.

  33. globetrottermama says:

    God, I love my country. What a magnificent place. Thanks for sharing.

  34. faizahazeem says:

    Beautifully written with lovely pictures! I hope to visit alHambra one day!

  35. Katka says:

    Beautiful! Never been, but I know Morocco, and its similar in its moorish architecture.

  36. Beautiful post and pictures! I think the Alhambra is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. Sadly, my visit was very rushed, but posts like yours are a mini-trip back.

  37. melvisx says:

    Great shots! The Alhambra is one of my all time favorite places!

  38. Anthony Turi says:

    This is a brilliant blog entry! I really enjoyed reading it. Thank you :-)

  39. Looks breathtaking- enjoy! One day!

  40. I was fortunate enough to visit the Alhambra when I was in high school, after saving money to go on the Spanish class’ trip to Spain. Such a lovely place! Thank you for bringing back such pleasant memories!

  41. Sara Ann says:

    I went to Spain last summer and Grenada was my favorite city I visited! LOVED the Alhambra!

  42. Lori, I found this post via Freshly Pressed (congratulations). Your photographs of the Alhambra were lovely and reminded me of my January term trip there is…wait for it…1992. Yikes! One of my favorite details were the wooden rails on some staircases in the garden. They were carved out and water flowed down them, clear and cold from the mountain. So cool. Thanks for the memories.

    • Lori says:

      Thank you! Wow – 1992! That’s awesome. We loved the water flowing down the bannisters as well. We thought that on a hot summer day they would be lifesavers, just splash some water on you and keep walking.

  43. Joyce Meyer says:

    Enjoyed your post. We were there 2 years ago in January. So cold that day but so interesting. I’d go back in a heartbeat.

  44. Thank you for reminding me of such a wonderful, miraculous place, one of the few I’ve actually visited. On seeing it, you no longer feel surprised that hardened Catholic warriors, after generations of bloody war and hatred towards Muslims, on capturing it nevertheless left this gem quite intact.

  45. dwmullin says:

    Wow, really stunning shots. Will make time to stop through there soon now!

  46. allforsahar says:

    I’ll make sure to be there sometime later inshAlla :)
    Great photos, thanks.


  47. Zipporah Moses says:

    The pics are just AWESOME..thanks Lori….no pic will really do justice to it’s unbelievable beauty..brought back lovely memories…Alcázar of Seville – Royal Palace is another gorgeous place to fact I liked it more…

  48. Granada was where my love affair with Spain began. :) Great post and photos! The Alhambra and Albaicin are magical places – thanks for bringing back those memories.

  49. i went to the main palace in the evening and morning….both are magnificent despite the difference of lighting…..your photos are beautiful i love the way you frame each one of them…..

  50. genkikitty says:

    There are so many angles in every inch of the place, so gorgeous! Thank you for sharing!

  51. Dear Lori,
    have you ever been to the region, in Italy, that many call the “new Tuscany” (i.e. Marches)? If you ever do, please let me know and I’ll give you some really good suggestions – as I am fond of my land.
    Congratulations for your blog!

  52. vandammetienne says:

    This makes me want to come back :p I so love this city :O It’s just one of the most beautiful in spain…wait no there is also sevilla, madrid is beautiful too, barcelone, cordoba’s mosque, toledo…I can’t choose my favorite

  53. Jesse says:

    I wish i could write more like you.. :)

  54. AWESOME pics!! Thanks for sharing :)

  55. Reblogged this on wishstory and commented:
    Afternoon at the Alhambra

  56. 76sanfermo says:

    Thank you, Lori,for sharing this! Your beautiful takes bring back memories of my trip to Andalucía !

  57. Gorgeous pictures! The Alhambra was one of my favorite places to visit in Spain, so thanks for the memories. We stayed in the Hotel America inside the Alhambra, but the bell in the church next door got stuck and tolled for 2.5 hours in the middle of the night. :) Still, absolutely wonderful place.

  58. Such wonderful images! Thank you for sharing and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  59. I loved the Alhambra. Thanks for all the great memories!

  60. What a beautiful account! Thank you for sharing. I must make an effort to go to Grenada next year :)

  61. marcus1776 says:

    Thanks for sharing :)

  62. home cozy says:

    Thanks for these lovely photos! We spent our honeymoon in Spain and I have such happy memories of Granada and most especially, the Alhambra. I am drawn to those patterns when I see them replicated elsewhere like no other pattern. I saw one just yesterday on a quilt and thought of the Alhambra fondly, funny to have run into this post on your blog today!

  63. jimceastman says:

    The pictures are amazing! Awesome architectural designs. I would love to visit this place someday soon! Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience. It entertained me so much!

  64. Brilliant! Always wanted to go there. Thanks for the photos. Excellent!

  65. rhpecanha says:

    It is really a magic place, so beautiful, so calm,

    Great place to visit!

  66. cmsaunders says:

    Great piece of writing, accompanied by some stunning images.; Applause!

  67. Great photos! Thanks for sharing!

  68. MaricelaG says:

    Looks like an incredible place

  69. Well written and photographed in an immediate personal way. Number of countries visited? Nah.

  70. luaydpk says:

    beautiful picture!

  71. Fay says:

    What a wonderful descriptive piece and the pictures are truly amazing. Congratulations on your FP. :D

  72. Megan Gould says:

    Lovely pictures, great blog!

  73. Great pix. One of my favorite places.

  74. godschick says:

    Beautiful pictures. I went to Granada when I studied abroad in Spain in college. Brings back sweet memories! I am so envious that you’ve traveled to 47 countries! I’ve been to many, but probably about 17 shy of you…but oh can I relate to your love of travel. I love your blog. Blessings!

    • Lori says:

      Thanks! I love reading others’ accounts of places I’ve been to; it always brings back such vivid memories. Thanks for stopping by. :)

  75. visafacile says:

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    Goog blog !

    Visa team

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