Spain, Granada, young woman taking pictures at the Alhambra
Jaen Stock/© Jaen Stock
Courtyard of the lions Palace of the Lions Nazaries palaces Alhambra, Granada Andalusia, Spain
Lucas Vallecillos/© Lucas Vallecillos
One of the most magnificent sights in all of Spain is the Alhambra, a fortress-palace that sprawls across 14 hectares (35 acres) on a hilltop high above Granada. Constructed largely in the 13th and 14th centuries by Nasrid rulers, the complex is divided into multiple areas connected by a series of gardens and gates. The Alcazaba, one of the oldest parts of the fortress, is an imposing former palace that later served as the barracks for soldiers protecting the medina (walled city). Adjacent Moorish palaces from the 14th century were used as administrative buildings and residences. Their interiors are exquisitely intricate and highly detailed, with floor-to-ceiling geometric tiles, elaborate stucco and plasterwork, decorative carved inscriptions and ornate marquetry ceilings. The Alhambra was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. After seeing the Alhambra, you can head down the hill to tour the rest of the city of Granada, including its cathedral and the atmospheric Albaicín, the old Arab quarter.