The Alhambra


Alhambra Gold. The setting sun strikes the walls of the Alhambra with the Sierra Nevada mountains in the background, Granada, Spain.

Our second full day of photography was spent at the Alhambra palaces. We started by spending about an hour at the palace of Carlos V with its beautiful two-level 360° arcade with colonnades. Fortunately it was partly cloudy, so there were some periods of harsh, direct sunlight and others of softer light—it is always nice to have a variety of conditions to work with. During a period of direct sunlight, I made the following image and managed to avoid the harsh shadows by where I stood:

Colonnade Sunburst. The winter sun peaks into the covered arcade of Palacio de Carlos V in the Alhambra, Granada, Spain.

In the end, I may decide to clean up the small lens flares in the lower part of the image, but for the moment I am leaving them in.

There were two staircases on opposite sides of the courtyard. Both were beautiful and enjoyed soft indirect light that was warmly colored by the stone. One had straight sections with a landing midway up and the other had a single uninterrupted sweeping curve:

Descent. A curved staircase sweeps down to the courtyard level below in the Alhambra’s Palacio de Carlos V, Granada, Spain.

One our ticketed time came for the rest of the Alhambra, we entered a structure that was spectacularly covered in seemingly endless intricately carved walls, arches, ceilings, and windows:

Intricacy. Sunlight pours through windows covered in fretwork and lattices to illuminate elaborate wall carvings and tiled patterns in the Alhambra, Granada, Spain.

Here is a closeup detail of another section of wall:

Alhambra Wall. Elaborate carved stucco decorations cover a wall in the Alhambra, Granada, Spain.

This level of detail was mind-bogglingly extensive from floor to ceiling throughout the palace. The amount of labor and skill (and cost!) that went into its construction must have been staggering.

After working our way through the complex and an impressive series of gardens, we drove to Mirador St Nicholas, which offered amazing views of entire palace with the mountains in the distance, as shown at the top of this post. The Alhambra was a truly spectacular place and by itself is a good reason to visit Andalucía. It was definitely the busiest day of the trip for my poor camera—in a little over eight hours I took 650 pictures.

Technical notes. The photographs in this post were taken with a Nikon Z7 using a a Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S and a Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S. All five photographs were processed from RAW in Adobe Lightroom Classic.

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