In what now seems like an intended tour of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, instead of simply a Mediterranean cruise we were tagging along on, we managed to coordinate a trip out to our sixth Site of the trip, the Medieval fortress of the Nasrid dynasty. Literally meaning “the red one,” the Alhambra is a complex located in Granada, Spain that begun construction in 1238 CE by Muhammad I. Al-Ahmar of the Granada Emirate in al-Andalus.

While the exterior was left plain and austere, successive Emirs oversaw expansions and improvements upon the interior in their quest to see the complex realized as a paradise upon earth.

With the fall of the Nasrid dynasty before an alliance of catholic kings in 1492 CE, the compound a short forty years later would be remodeled by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V with the building of The Palace of Charles V within the fortifications, and restorations that saw the grounds take on a distinctly Roman feel.

The Alhambra however ends up falling into disrepair, and it’s not until 19th century European scholars and travellers rediscovered the buildings that restorations were made, and people returned to its grounds.

In present days the Alhambra is one of Spain’s major tourist attractions, and a significant example of Medieval Islamic architecture. This in conjuncture with the 16th century Christian church and garden earned the Alhambra a spot upon the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1984.

Tip: Due to the amount of time it would have taken to get from our port of call, Malaga, to the Alhambra in Granada, I ended up going as part of a cruise organized tour. Our guide however did mention that as a popular site the tickets are often bought up months in advance, so there is some advantage to going with a tour group. Entry price however is $14.30 Euro, and the grounds are open between 8:30 and 8PM during summer hours, and 8:30 and 6PM during winter hours.