The Nasrid Palace, or Mexuar, as it is also known, is widely considered to be the main highlight in relation to Granada's spectacular Alhambra complex. Mostly built in the 1300s, this elegant Moorish palace offers insight into just how opulent the lifestyle was for the city's former Muslim rulers. Enticing courtyards and a small patio where the sultan used to meet with ministers and subjects are among the main features, and all throughout, ceramic tiles, molded plaster walls, and stunning stuccowork dazzle the mind.
The Palacio Nazaries was primarily a council chamber and served as a place for the sultan to meet with his ministers. These meetings often saw these people relaxing on soft pillows and conversing over hookah pipes. The Hall of the Mexuar, which was eventually converted into a chapel in the seventeenth century, was the largest of the chamber areas, and it leads to the large rectangular courtyard that is the Patio de los Arrayanes. One of the main courtyards of the Nasrid Palace, it boasts a reflecting pool that is lined with myrtle trees. Of particular interest in this patio, which is also known as the Court of the Myrtles, are the decorative tiles.
The other main courtyard that is surrounded by the Palacio Nazaries is the Patio de los Leonares, or the Court of Lions. Heralded for its architectural brilliance, this courtyard features a fountain that ranks among the very best fountains in all of Spain. This fountain features twelve marble lions, at least when one of the lions isn't on display at the Museo de la Alhambra. This museum is housed inside the Charles V Palace, which is another main structure of the Alhambra complex.
Also worth highlighting when it comes to the spectacular Patio de los Leonares are the arcades. About 124 of them line the courtyard, and supporting them are fine, marble columns.
There is a lot to see on a visit to the Nasrid Palace Alhambra. Take the Hall of the Two Sisters, for example, which was where the sultan housed his preferred partner of the moment. There's also the Hall of Kings, which served as a banquet hall for all sorts of parties. In this former party room, today's visitor can gaze at the old paintings that are found on the ceiling. Leather serves as the canvas for these paintings, which date back to the 1300s and depict interesting scenes relating to the sultan.
While they explore the delightful Nasrid Palace, visitors can indulge in wonderful views of Granada from many vantage points. One of the hallways looks out towards the historic Arabic quarter that is the Albaicin, and also within view is the gypsy neighborhood of Sacromonte.
Only a few hundred visitors are allowed to enter the Palacio Nazaries during any given half-hour period. This helps to keep the crowds at a minimum while still allowing a healthy amount of people to admire the palace at one specific time. Each ticket that prospective visitors buy has a 30-minute time slot printed on it, and this is when it is valid. Once inside, it isn't necessary to leave after this period is up. Visitors can linger as long as they please.
Purchasing Nasrid Palace Alhambra tickets in advance is recommended, as Alhambra tickets in general go fast. Reservations for a tour can be arranged in advance, and upon arrival, a photo ID and the same credit card that was used to make the reservation are all that are needed in order to gain access. The Nasrid Palace tickets are combo tickets, it should be mentioned, and they also include entrance to the Alcazaba and the renowned Generalife Gardens. For those who wish, guided tours of the Alhambra complex and the Generalife can be arranged with relative ease throughout Spain's Andalucia region. These tours take care of transportation and tickets.