Nasrid Palace, Granada, History and Tour

Nasrid Palace History

The first historical documents about the Alhambra date back to 9th century. In the year 889, Sawwar ben Hamdun had to seek refuge in the Alcazaba, a fortress. The castle of the Alhambra was added to the city’s area within the ramparts in the 9th century. It became a military fortress with a view over the whole city. The first king of the Nasrid dynasty, Mohammed ben Al-Hamar (Mohammed I, 1238-1273) arrived in the 13th century. The royal residence, Nasrid Palace was then established in the Alhambra. This event marked the beginning of the Alhambra’s most glorious period. Yusuf I (1333-1353) and Mohammed V (1353-1391) are responsible for most of the constructions of the Alhambra that we admire today. You can read more here.


Tour of Nasrid Palace

The crumbling exteriors of Nasrid Palace made me wonder, what is it that will be inside for which we struggled so hard from morning to see? 5 to 10 minutes into the tour of Nasrid Palace I understood why this is the topmost must see place in Granada. I was reminded of the majestic exteriors of Jodhpur palace which had really grand interiors. The exteriors of Nasrid Palace didn’t look half as big, only when I began touring inside I could sense the vastness of the area. The layout of several small palaces inside is random and it will be good to study it well once before you tour. The skeletal exteriors of wood and bricks, covered with tiles at some places may seem drab but they definitely define Islamic architectural style.

.I surely need a a similar Nasrid Palace mosaic wall paper.

 Verses from Quran on Walls of Nasrid Palace

The unique feature of the first room Mexaur that we toured was its low ceiling. Tall tourists definitely need to mind their heads; I managed to be within safe limits. This is where the kings of Granada received their subjects. Initially the patterns on the wall looked like designs to me, but on close observation realized they were verses from Quran. They are written in fine calligraphy styles. Much of what is known about Alhambra is from these writings.


From Mexaur we moved on to ‘Court of the Golden Room’. Then ‘Court of Myrtles’ to the Hall of Ambassadors or Throne Room. And then proceeded to Courtyard of Lions, Hall of Kings, Hall of Two Sisters… more. We were totally mesmerized and intoxicated by the beauty of the interiors. The best part is once you are inside you have no time restriction. You can move at your pace, halting several times on the way to take pictures. The tour takes around 30 inutes but may be a little loner if you wish to linger on at some of the spots.


The rooms have art work from roof to floor level. The art works include stucco (like stalactites), ceramic tiles in various colors and designs, walls plastered with designs, filigree windows. If anything was missing it was the furnishings. At its height of usage these rooms must have been laid with Persian carpets, with plenty of cushions, the kings reclining on them puffing on hookahs, heavy curtains on windows and stylish ivory studded furniture.


These places were once upon a time colored with beautiful colors:

  • Red for blood
  • Blue for heaven
  • Green for oasis
  • Gold for wealth!

Hard to imagine the splendor the place had with all these colors.


Courtyard of Lions at Nasrid Palace

Nasrid Palace at night has a charm of its own. Courtyard of Lions, named so obviously after those 12 lions standing around the fountain. Curious conquerors dissembled it to see how it works, but failed to get it working after reassembling it. It got functional in as recently as 2012. Notice the ‘8’o’clock in the evening’ sunlight in the picture?



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