La Alcazaba Granada Andalucia Spain

The city of Granada was founded in 750 by the Moors. As befitting the first Moorish step in the Iberian Peninsula, it was to be the last Moorish place in Spain to fall to the armies of Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492, which represented the end of the Reconquista. The region of Andalucia was to bear the strongest imprint of Moorish culture. Its beauty is most visible in the architecture. A name synonymous with the marvel of human engineering in Spain is the Alhambra. Visitors often flock to the main palace omitting to pause in its oldest piece, the Alcazaba.

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The towers of the Alcazaba will stand out in your memory as the most prominent feature.

The names of numerous historical buildings are Hispanic versions of Arabic terms. In this case, Alcazaba refers to Al-Qasbah, which means citadel. The Spanish countryside is decorated with similar structures in Spain, for instance in Almeria, Badajoz and Malaga. Although this is now in poor condition, it is worth looking around to try and get the feel of what a majestic place it used to be. Sitting in the shadow of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, it is located on the edge of the plateau. It would be hard to be surprised by an enemy at this height.

The bell tower at the very top is where to get the best panorama of Granada from

Celts, Greeks, Romans and Visigoths have all settled in Granada. With all these invaders the local dynasty decided to protect itself, they would build and later have to rebuild this fortress on the Albaycin hill. The history of Moorish rule in Spain is full of wars, betrayals and rebellions. The history in this historic building in Granada tells the story of many battles and lives lost in the struggle for power.

The city of Granada was part of the Cordoba Emirate, later to become the Caliphate of Cordoba. It became independent when Cordoba was torn apart by violence and collapsed. One of the rebellious leaders, Sawwar Ben Hamdun, took refuge here in 899 and restored it. The North African Zirid dynasty took control of the city in the early XIth Century, but they would not last long as rulers. The Nasrid dynasty took over in 1232 and would only be forced out in 1492. They would reinforce the citadel and build the Alhambra.

The dynastic founder, Ibn Al-Ahmar, started by adding the first of 24 new towers to dominate the city and plain. The rages of time mean that only a few remain of which the Torre de la Vela or Watch Tower, Torre del Homenaje or Keep, Torre de la Armas or Arms and Torre de Quebrada or Ravine are the main attractions. The first one contains the greatest historical value as the cross was raised here on January 2 1492 to mark the end of the Reconquista. Its name is not without justice as it commands to-die-for views of the whole area. Walk along the ramparts and step into the shoes of the last Moorish soldiers in Spain. You might hear their ghosts lamenting the loss of such an architectural jewel.
The ruins of la Alcazaba are a testament to the history of the fortress in Granada

Before you walk in to the Alcazaba, do not rush through but pause in the Jardin de los Adarves or Rampart Gardens. Later on, it was given a new name, Jardin de los Poetas or Poets Gardens. We would recommend pausing in the Torre de la Armas as its interior is a treasure trove of building ingenuity. The Torre del Cubo or Bucket was one of the additions made by Christian kings. The Plaza de los Albijes is where a ravine used to exist separating the Alcazaba from the Alhambra, but it was filled in soon after the Christian kings conquered the city. An interesting local tradition is the ringing of the Torre de la Vela's bell by young girls in the hope of not becoming spinsters.

There are many tours that are available from many different tour guides. Once you have completed one don't forget that you are able to climb up some of these towers. The views of Granada from up the top of the Alcazaba is quite incredible. The white buildings of the town laid in open plan with the spectacular Hills of the Sierra Nevada in the distance. You need strong legs to get all the way up but you wont forgive yourself if you don't take in these breathtaking views.

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