The Alcazaba was a building used for military purposes. The first Arab constructions date back to the Caliphate period, possibly built over some ruins of a Roman fortress. In the 11th century, the "ziríes" expanded the enclosure, when Granada was the capital city of one of the "Taifas" kingdoms. Even so, the main constructions date from the "nazarie" period (13th to 15th centuries). At this enclosure there are also some Christian additions like the round "Cubo" Tower.
At this site there is the famous "Vela" Tower: a watchtower from where we can contemplate some incomparable views of the city, the "Vega" and "Sierra Nevada" . The barracks of the soldiers have disappeared, and the underground dungeons are closed, but you can still walk around some towers, ramparts and the round walks. Ruins of the baths, silos, water tanks, etc. still remain.
The Alcazaba, together with the "Torres Bermejas" is the oldest part of the Alhambra. It is thought that before its construction and the arrival of the Moslems to Granada, several buildings already existed at this same site. The earliest news we have of the existence of the Alcazaba of Granada dates from the 9th century. It was possibly constructed by "Sawwar ben Hamdun" during the fights between Arabs and muladíes (Christians converted to the Islam during the Moslem domination in Spain).
The actual compound was constructed by "Mohamed I", who encircled the old castle with a wall, added new defences and built up three new towers ("Quebrada", "Homenaje" and "Vela"), converting the Alcazaba into a real fortress where the monarch established his royal residence. It continued as a royal residence during the reign of his son "Mohamed II", until the palaces had been finished. From that moment it became a military fortress.
Later on, when the Christians conquered Granada, they altered some parts of the Alcazaba. At different times, and for long periods of time, the Alcazaba was used as a state prison, even during the French occupation.
Like the Alhambra, the Alcazaba was abandoned and completely neglected for a long time, but contrary to what happened to the Alhambra, it was not until the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th when some restoration and sanitation works started.
Walls and Towers: The Alcazaba occupies a space with an almost triangular shape at the highest part of the Sabika hill, where the Alhambra is located. It is surrounded by a complex system of walls and towers that defend it and converted it into an almost inexpugnable fortress.
From the "Aljibes" square we enter this enclosure through modern gate at the defence wall, passing, to the north, by the eastern wall of the fortress where the towers (Quebrada, Homenaje and Adarguero) are situated. Of the "Adarguer" tower, only the lower part remains. The "Homenaje" tower, which occupies the northeast angle, is the tallest of the fortress and at this tower is where "Alhamar" is thought to have resided. Right at the end, joined to the defence wall, we find the "Cubo" tower. It has a semicircular shape and was built after the reconquest. From this tower we can admire the beautiful views over the "Albayzín" district and the "Darro" valley.
To continue the visit, we enter the north rampart, where we can see the double wall constructed round the fortress. Before us, closing the rampart, we find the "Armas" Gate, one of the entrances to the Alhambra and the only one that communicated directly with the city. Far back, we can see the emblematic "Vela" Tower with the bell used to mark the rhythm of the city life and of the "Vega" (flat agricultural land near the city of Granada).
Extreme precautions. Area of difficult access for the disabled. You can visit in the morning or afternoon shift, according to your ticket without time control.
Duration of tour: approx. 1/2 hour.