Understanding the layout of the Alhambra
The map above shows the route of a typical visit to the Alhambra
|Yellow||The ticket office and main visitor entrance.|
|Blue||The Alcazaba: the fortress where the soldiers lived with big towers that look out over Granada (photo)|
|Green||A strange renaissance palace built by Carlos V to stamp the Christan identity onto the Alhambra after the conquest (photo)|
|Purple||The Nazrid Palaces: a series of sumptous rooms and courtyards (photo)|
|Pink||The Partal Gardens: a wonderful goldfish pond (photo) and the Torre de las Damas|
|Orange||Generalife: the sultan's leisure palaces with a long line of fountains, gardens and water features (photo)|
|Red Star||Puerta de la Justicia.|
Understanding the arrival time:
When you buy your tickets, you will be given a half-hour slot to enter the Nazrid Palaces. You must not be late as they are now very strict. There is always a queue but sometimes people queue for the next session. Alhambra attendants normally go along the queue to check that everyone with tickets for a particular time gets in so if you arrive with only a few minutes to spare, it is a good idea to show your ticket to an attendant to make sure you don't need to go to the front of the queue.
Problems are caused when people think that they must enter the Alhambra complex at the time on the ticket without realising that there is a 800 metre walk from the main entrance to the palaces (see blue arrows on the map above). This is why it's a good idea to pick your tickets up at least 90 minutes before you are scheduled to enter the Nazrid Palaces.
For most people it would be a good idea to follow the route of arrows shown above. To be on the safe side, enter the main visitor entrance to the Alhambra at least 90 minutes before your time slot at the Nazrid palaces. Some people would say you would need more than 90 minutes if you want to visit the church, the arabic baths and the souvenir shops etc.
If time is limited for example first thing in the morning. Then it may be advisable to cut out the blue arrow part (see map above) and enter the Alhambra at the puerta de justicia (see red star) You can see how to get to the entrances on foot or by bus on this page
Reduced mobility access:
It is not well known but as long as you have already got the actual ticket it is possible to enter the Alhambra at the Puerta de la Justicia (the red star on the map) thus avoiding the 800 metre walk down from the entrance (blue arrows). If you used a credit/debit card to buy your tickets through TICKETMASTER on Internet or by phone (see buying tickets in advance), you can print them out directly or collect them from one of the official collection points (see collecting tickets). The most strenuous part of the Alhambra visit is climbing the towers in the Alcazaba. We recommend that people with reduced mobility enter via the Puerta de la Justicia then go directly to the Nazrid Palaces and the Partal gardens. Then if you have enough energy afterwards, you can go up towards the Generalife.
For more information about wheelchair/disabled access, click here.
There is a very good PDF document in Spanish made by the Alhambra itself here