Travel Photos: The Alhambra Photos

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In keeping with SPAIN WEEK here at A Traveler’s Library, (see Monday and Wednesday’s reviews of books for travelers) I’m posting Alhambra photos from our travel to the absolutely most iconic Spanish tourism location–the Alhambra. You can read more about our literary inspiration for travel to the Alhambra, Washington Irving’s Tales of the Alhambra, here.

Washington Irving's Room
Washington Irving’s Room at the Alhambra

Before you make plans to sleep overnight at The Alhambra–not gonna happen.  Tourists can only rarely get a glimpse inside the room, and you’ll need to book a hotel next door, or down the hill in town. Washington Irving’s room was in a private residence within the Alhambra that was a hosteleria in the 19th century.  The plaque over the door says, Washington Irving escribo en estas habitaciones sus Cuentos de la Alhambra en el año de 1829. In English translation: Washington Irving, wrote, in these rooms, his Tales of the Alhambra in the year 1829.

Reading his evocative stories inspired us to book both a day time and a night-time tour of the Alhambra.  I was not skilled in nighttime photography and so you will have to take my word for it that seeing the Alhambra by candlelight, with shadows throwing carvings into sharp relief, gives a different and breath-taking contrast to the sun-bathed view of daytime. EVERYTHING is decorated.

Arched doorway in Alhambra
Stalactites of carved marble adorn archway

One of the most famous features is the lion fountain, which was turned off for maintenance and cleaning when we were there. Too bad about the cleaning as there is a legend that you can still see the blood of knights slain at the fountain. The knights were of the family that owned the house Washington Irving lived in. So there are the bloodless lions.

The Lion Fountain
Lion Fountain, Alhambra, Granada

Gardens, fountains, elaborate carvings and tile work–the elements that you find in all the Moorish designs make great subjects for Alhambra photos.

PIllar of tile and carving
PIllar of tile and carving,in the Alhambra, Granada

Living in a desert climate, I can understand why water features were so important to Moorish design.  You feel instantly cooler when you see a sight like this one/ Regardless of the throng of tourists, the architecture and the water conspire to create a calm oasis.

Reflecting pool in the Alhambra
Reflecting pool in the Alhambra

Photographers may nod in recognition of my sad tale about the reflecting pool.  A pair of young lovers sat on the far edge of the pool. I tried to shoot across the pool, and someone walked in front of me. I tried again and the light was wrong.  I never did get the picture, but in my memory it is the perfect Alhambra photo that got away.

I may have missed the lovers, but I caught the kids.


Window of the Alhambra
Kids visiting the Alhambra hang out a second-story passageway window.

I am painfully aware how inadequate any photographs are to capture the magic of the Alhambra.  All you can do is take photos of small pieces, but when you walk through the buildings,  these individual elements surround you and form an amazing cohesive experience of beauty.  My Alhambra photos are particularly inadequate, since they are scans from ten-year-old slides. But I hope they may inspire you to travel to Granada and take your own pictures–both in your mind and on your camera.

These Alhambra photos are my contribution to Travel Photo Thursday, sponsored at Budget Traveler’s Sandbox.  Take a look at that site to see photographers from around the world as they interpret their travels.

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The link from the title of Tales of The Alhambra allows you to shop at Amazon and automatically benefit A Traveler’s Library. Thank you for your support.

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About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

13 thoughts on “Travel Photos: The Alhambra Photos

  1. I think you’ve done very well with these photos. It can be so frustrating trying to get shots without people getting in the way. But the pics with the kids is pretty cool. I’d love to visit the Alhambra & should read Washington Irving’s story. Thanks for the link.

    1. Thanks, Cathy. I seem to remember lots of waiting around for the field to clear. I did snap some with lots of people, too, but they don’t “read” as well for the site. Among those was a bride and groom!!

  2. I loved the Alhambra! I was there on the coldest day of the year last February (at least it felt like the coldest!) I want to go back again when it’s warmer, and I also want to experience it at night. I would love to stay in the hotel next door. I’ll have to start saving my pennies!!

    1. Hi Nancie: If you want cheaper digs, contact me and I’ll give you the name of the place we stayed–a family run inexpensive hotel down the hill on the street leading to the Alhambra. The roof terrace included views of the Alhambra! We figured although staying on the hill would be romantic, if we wanted to see the whole town, we’d spend a lot of time walking up hill to the hotel. Whereas where we stayed, we only walked up twice–to see the Alhambra. The rest of the time we were close to the bottom of the hill and close to the old town district.

  3. Thanks for sharing this post, Vera. I can’t wait to visit The Alhambra! Each time I read about it, I try to imagine it but I’m sure my imagination will never do it justice.

  4. Vera,
    you might enjoy an album Loreena McKennitt has made called Nights from the Alhambra. Don’t know what you’d think of her music, but with the album is a dvd made at her concerts there (which were in the evenings) and also bits of her exploring and reflecting on the experience of being there, which were done in daylight.

    1. Wow! You contribute such great music ideas, but I never imagined you would come up with one for the Alhambra! Thanks, Kerry. It would be wonderful to hear a concert at the Alhambra. What a setting.

  5. The Alhambra is definitely on my list of places to see. My last trip to Spain was in the Northern part, so I’m definitely going to need to go south next time.

  6. Vera I agree that it’s hard to catch the full essence of the palace. We did the 3 hour in depth tour and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I still can’t get over the detail in the stone and the beauty of the reflecting pools.

    1. The detail is amazing, isn’t it Leigh. Reminded me of the over-the-top decorations of Baroque or of the Victorian age. Can’t leave a surface untouched.

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