Museum of Alhambra

Museum of Alhambra

Museum of Alhambra

Located in the interior of the Palace of Charles V (Palacio de Carlos V), the Museum of the Alhambra offers visitors a unique possibility to see art or architecture objects from the Monument, bound to the Culture that originated it, by means of the most modern museum techniques.

The Museum possesses the best collection of Nasrid Art in the world, with specimens coming from artefacts found archaeological excavations and restored in the Alhambra, making a visit to it an ideal complement to a tour of the artistic-historical monumental complex.

The Museum in Honour of Ángel Barrios is a collection that gathers musical equipment, instruments, drawings, paintings, watercolors, scores and correspondence dedicated by different authors to this important musician and composer born in Granada, who passed away in 1964, and to the figure of his father, Antonio Barrios “the Polinario”, one of last “cicerones” of the Alhambra of the early 20th century, in whose now disappeared tavern, located where today is the Museum, met intellectuals and artists of the time.




    • 15 OCTOBER – 31 MARCH


  • 1 APRIL – 14 OCTOBER
    8:30 – 18:00 H
    8:30 – 14:30 H
    8:30 – 21:30 H
Medina & Gate of Wine

Medina & Gate of Wine

Medina & Gate of Wine

To some extent the function of this Gate today is similar to what it had been during the Nasrid period. It is the main entrance gate to the Medina of the Alhambra and serves to enclose the residential and artisan district within the walled fortress. Because it was an inner gate, it provided direct access to the fortress, as opposed to the outer gates, which required more protection and were built as L-shaped passageways. Inside, however, there was room enough for benches for the guards that controlled all access to the fortress.

Architecturally one of the oldest structures in the Nasrid Alhambra , it was built during the time of the Sultan Muhammad III (1302-1309), although the decoration of both façades pertains to different periods

The door on the east side, carved in sand stone, probably belongs to the 13th century or the beginning of the 14th century, although the tombstone over the door lintel refers to Sultan Muhammad V, who ruled the fortress in the second half of the 14th century. This east façade was the outer side of the gate and, therefore, the traditional Islamic symbol of the key was engraved above the arch key.

The inner side, i.e. the west façade, even when it follows a similar structural pattern, was decorated during the second mandate of Sultan Muhammad V, more specifically after 1367, the date of the military campaigns of Jaen, Baeza and Ubeda. Remarkable are the beautifully decorated spandrels hanging from the arch, made up of dry-rope manufactured tiles, and the composition of the stucco walls that frame the upper floor’s window, and the rest of well-preserved polychromatic painting on the right side of the arch.

Palace of Yusuf III

Palace of Yusuf III

Palace of Yusuf III

The great and elongated pond stand out, testimony of the central courtyard whose lateral corridos, destroyed, fill the now leafy gardenss. Coming away from the lovely intricacy of the Partal Gardens, the narrow way that connects the two palaces of the Alhambra leads to a snug platform with a handrail extending along the foot of the wall that encloses the Palace of Yusuf III (1408-1417).

Outstanding is the long pool in the central courtyard with a lush garden, on the sides of which are the ruins of some rooms marking the sie of a large building, structurally resembling the Palace of Comares .

At the front of the courtyard are the remains of what once was the main room of the palace: a tower overlooking a portico in the open patio. The remains of the walls now form a terrace that, as was the case in medieval times, provides one of loveliest views to be had in the Alhambra.

Some of the excavated remains are attributed to the work of Yusuf III; however, it has been suggested that the building may have belonged to a previous sultan, Muhammad II (1273-1302), having been subsequently renovated and redecorated.

Discovered during an archaeological dig in the 1930s, it was identified as being the Palace of Mondéjar, or Tendilla. The palace was given to Mondéjar and subsequently housed the Alcaides, or the Alhambra keepers.

In 1718 the family, famous in political and cultural circles at the time, was stripped of its entitlements by Philip V, and the building was demolished, parts of its structure being sold off.

Generalife Palace

Generalife Palace

Generalife Palace

The Generalife, built between s.XII and s.XIV, is the palace used by muslim kings as resting place.

The entrance to the Generalife is interesting for two reasons. On the one hand, its exterior part is rural, befitting a country house more than a palace; on the other hand, various courts had to be traversed at different levels in order to reach the interior of the Alhambra palace itself. The entrance is currently denominated the Court of the Dismount (Patio del Descabalgamiento) owing to the presence of footrests that facilitate horse riders in their dismount. Also on hand are two side buildings, which were probably used by stable hands.

Once entrance was gained, the visitor would have to climb a stairway past the security guard benches, toward a room above, with a control window. The second court, which underwent changes, is located at the top and surrounded by arched galleries, except for in the front, where access to the interior of the palace is gained.

Entrance to the palace itself is through a tiny door, today partially hidden by undergrowth and embedded in traces of marble, with a tiled lintel and the ever present arch-key marking. From there, a steep narrow stairway leads to a residence, connected to the Court of the Main Canal (Patio de la Acequia), called the North Pavilion (Pabellón Norte), which in turn leads to an arcaded gallery, with five arches and bedchambers, and on to the Royal Chamber (Sala Regia) and the observation point of Ismail I.

The Royal Chamber (Sala Regia) is noted for its plasterwork, niches and lovely stalactite capitals. The often repeated interior layout includes bedchambers framed by arches. Of particular note is the stalactite outset cornice supporting the ceiling.

The Generalife Palace Low Gardens

Beneath the Palace North Pavilion lies a small closed garden that dates back to the period of Arabic rule. In 1526 Andrea Navagero described its walls as being covered with ivy and having a fountain that shot water ten fathoms into the air.

To the west of the garden a staircase leads slightly above to a garden beneath the Palace West Gallery. The garden was designed in 1928 by Torres Balbás, after the building adjacent to the North Pavilion had been demolished. West of that, and slightly lower, covering the entire length of the Main Canal Gallery Court (Galería del Patio de la Acequia), lie the gardens that, though somewhat altered now, in the 19th century were depicted in an engraving by the French archaeologist and traveller Alexandre Laborde.

Alhambra palace urban structure

Alhambra palace urban structure

Alhambra palace urban structure

The Nasrid Alhambra was a palatine city, designed and built for the service of the Court.

Its urban structure, inheriting the purest Andalusian and Islamic tradition, is perfectly organized in its development over the two and a half centuries of existence, with the logical transformations which imply an unstable sultanate and changing politics depending on pacts and vassalage.

military complex for elite guard guaranteed the interior security of the Sultan, his family and the Government Institutions from the Alcazaba. The Alcazaba was like an independent military city, strategically located and cleverly connected with the rest of the Alhambra, where the guards lived with their families, with homes, a water cistern and baths, as in any quarter of a city.

There was a palatial area reserved for the life of the Sultan and his closest family. Here there were administrative offices, with a clearly formal layout, becoming more private and palatial depending on their departments. There were also spaces for Surah meetings and Councils of Viziers (ministers) and for public audiences. The Sultan called courtly parties coinciding with notable celebrations in the Muslim or State calendar.

In this palatine area, several palaces are set out, built in different periods, either through the adaptation and redecoration of their predecessor, or through the construction or addition of a new palace on its land. A street, with access to different areas of the palaces, would also serve to separate and isolate them from the rest of the Alhambra.
Serving this court was the Alhambra Medina, a whole city designed to cover any need of the Palace. Organized around a main street ascending slightly from west to east, the city had public baths, a mosque, shops, etc.
Next to the Mosque were the Rauda or Cemetery of the Sultans and a Madrasa.

In the lower are, behind the Puerta del Vino which served as the main entrance, there were houses, some very important, where civil servants and Court servants lived, small water cisterns and public spaces. Toward the middle of the street and along its sides are two large areas considered true palaces: the Hall of the Abencerrajes and what was formerly the Convent of San Francisco.

The upper area of the city was occupied by a range of small traditional industries: furnaces for glass and ceramic, a tannery for leather, waterwheels and even a mint for making currency.
The Acequia del Rey (or Sultan) entered the Alhambra through this area, through an aqueduct and a hatch, descending parallel to Calle Real, distributing water to the whole complex through countless channels. Small streets, alleys and small shelters made up the urban landscape of the cit.

The whole Alhambra was surrounded by a wall which made it unassailable in any attack, connecting it with the general wall of Granada. It had four main doors, two the the north – Armas and Arrabal – and two the the south – Justicia and Siete Suelos.

The Palace of El Partal

The Palace of El Partal

The Palace of El Partal

A great pond located in the center, presided by the portico after which is found the Tower of the Ladies. After walking up a narrow landscaped path with a view of Sacromonte, on our left appear the north wall of the Alhambra and the remains of walls and some pavement that mark the location of what is currently called the Court of the Fig Tree.

A small pergola leads to a wide esplanade corresponding to the lower terrace of the Partal. To the left is the architectural structure for which the location is named: the Partal Palace portico.

As is customary in these buildings, it is situated, like the Palace of Comares, on the premises wall. The portico, with its five arches, overlooks a large pool in the centre of the garden. Behind the portico is the main room, located inside the tower known as Las Damas.

The wall decoration typically consists of a tile socle and wide stretches of plasterwork that originally were polychromatic friezes with wooden frameworks. Its decorative style suggests that it was built during the reign of sultan Muhammad III (1302-1309), making it the oldest—if only partially standing—palace in the Alhambra.

Adjacent to the Tower of the Ladies and above the portico, is a lovely small balcony built in Nasrid style, just like the balconies of other palaces, such as the Comares and the Generalife, often referred to in this day and age as observatories for the superb views they provide.

One of the reasons why the Palace of the Partal stands out from its neighbouring Comares and the Lions, which have maintained their overall structure since the days of the Nasrid, is that the Partal was only included in the Alhambra a little more than a century ago.

On 12 March 1891, its owner, Arthur Von Gwinner, handed ownership over to the State. At that time the building was little more than a simple house with a few plants. Its interior walls were covered over so that much of the structure and its original decoration were hidden from view.

Another detail of note is the fact that the wooden ceiling inside the Tower of the Ladies was dismantled by its last owner, turning up early last century in Berlin. It is currently one of the most prominent objects to be found in the Museum für Islamische Kunst del Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz..

Finally, the two large marble lions that stood in the front of the gallery, and which dated back to the 14th Century, were originally from Maristán, in Albaycin.

In 1995 the lions were moved to the Museum of the Alhambra in order to be restored and preserved. In the mid-nineteenth century, they had been in the Partal, where their preservation, chronology, function, and context were ignored.

The Partal Gardens

This lovely section of the Monumental Complex of the Alhambra is the result of a logically pursued process, carried out by a well-managed system of landscaping and architectural planning, which was put into effect in the 1930s and has been a determinant in the increase in tourism, establishing current perspectives of interpretation.

Since the mid-nineteen hundreds various acquisitions and expropriations of small properties from private owners in the area have facilitated a series of archaeological explorations.

Walls, pavements and other architectural elements were recovered, particularly in the first three decades of the twentieth century. In addition, landscaping was put into effect, so that archaeological recoveries could be properly integrated into the surrounding flora and countryside, thus providing a noteworthy example that has bolstered the notoriety of the Alhambra around the world.

The original mechanism pertains to a terracing process, in which terrain levels, ascending from the wall to the fortress, and elevated above the left bank of the Darro river basin, in the direction of the upper Alhambra, were colonized and urbanized, on what was probably the site of the original Nasrid palace settlement.


The square shaped chapel stands adjacent to the Partal. Because of its decoration, the chapel is believed to have been constructed during the reign of Yusuf I. The mihrab is correctly situated in the Alhambra tradition. Structurally part of the main wall, the chapel blends in with the countryside, thus enhancing its suitability for the sultan’s prayers and meditations on nature and creation.


A group of houses built on the wall in the 14th Century, the Partal Dwellings are part of the palace portico.

The four two storey detached Partal Dwellings—the González Pareja house, the Villoslada house, the House of the Balconies and the House of the Paintings—have no courtyards. They are known for their interior plasterwork, armour, and particularly for their courtly mural paintings, which some authors claim are the only examples of Nasrid painting in the entire Historical-Artistic Monuments Complex, the paintings of the Hall of the Kings and the Court of the Lions having been done by Christians painters.