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Tour Guide or No Tour Guide for the Alhambra?

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Mar 7th, 2013, 05:13 PM
  #1
JJW
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Tour Guide or No Tour Guide for the Alhambra?

Many sites highly recommend a guided tour through the Alhambra; others say rent the audioguide and go through the various buildings and grounds myself. Seeing the Alhambra is a lifelong dream of mine. I want to have the best experience I can. Recommendations?
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Mar 7th, 2013, 05:25 PM
  #2
kja
 
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The audio guide suited my needs quite well. I was glad I wasn't in one of the crowds surrounding a tour guide, trying to hear what s/he said while also trying to see what s/he was describing. But I'm sure others had different experiences.

I encourage you to go at least twice, once during the day and then again for the Nasrid Palace at night.

It is remarkable - enjoy!
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Mar 7th, 2013, 05:27 PM
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Problem with a tour IME is that you never have solitude to just ponder and think..... think about that room .... what went on here... ponder.... meditate on what the Alhambra was thru history - you are always with the tour guide - I would rather encounter such amazing places like this on my own - yes armed with perhaps an audioguide or for me printed things - but maybe do both - take the tour - some guides like Malcolm Miller at Chartres can bring the old cold stones to live with spellbinding stories about what happened here and then go back and wander and ponder... I do not think you have to take guided tour to appreciate this place, one of the most evocative of whatever places I have ever wandered around.

I kind of felt the same in Cordoba's Great Mosque, now a Christian cathedral.
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Mar 7th, 2013, 05:40 PM
  #4
THR
 
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Hi kja (and sorry to thread hijack!) - but do you think it's worth seeing the Nasrid Palace both at night AND during the day? We were intending to visit the Alhambra at night as well as during the day - but I know you can do the day visit without the palaces (which is slightly cheaper).

So wondering whether the duplication of a night/day visit to the palace is necessary, or whether the night visit will suffice.
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Mar 7th, 2013, 06:08 PM
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We did both---a night visit to the palace, and a day visit to all three (with the audio guide) and were really glad we did. A day visit and a night visit are completely different experiences,,both well,worth the time and the money.

We also didoneof the tours of the urban Lanscape and Environment, a five -hour guided walking tour. They have different ones, on different days of the week. Ours was a Conquestof Water tour of the waterworks and distribution system, very interestion. You can buy a ticket for this tour on the same website ( ticketmaster.es)!as the other tickets. Monte that kit does not include palace entry.
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Mar 7th, 2013, 06:22 PM
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I think the audioguide was my best option. Didn't need to be tied to crowds and could enjoy the sites that I wanted for as long as I wanted. Could wait until others left to get good photo ops.
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Mar 7th, 2013, 06:42 PM
  #7
kja
 
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> do you think it's worth seeing the Nasrid Palace both at night AND during the day?

Absolutely!

During the brighter light of day, I could see things that would have been hard to see in detail at night. The audio guide isn't available at night, or at least it wasn't when I was there. And one can spend longer in the Palace during the day if one's entry time is early enough. So during the day, I could take the time I wanted to see things and listen to the audioguide and look out the windows to see the spectacular views from some of the rooms. (And, of course, to see other parts of the Alhambra.) BUT it was crowded and loud, especially in the Nasrid Palace - things I do not like!

During the evening, very few people were admitted, and at least on the night I was there, everyone approached the Palace with a reverential hush. I could roam the parts of the palace that were open and see them in this very different and much more evocative lighting. I had time to do what PalenQ describes -- time in solitude to ponder and think and appreciate. I remember sitting by one of the pools, visualizing the details I had seen earlier that were now in partial shadow, savoring the delicate scent of some night-blooming flower, while realizing that I was able to hear the sound of water moving in the distance. OMG! Priceless.

So IME, visits during both the day and evening were not duplicative at all - they were both critical to my experience of this amazing place. And BTW, I'm very glad I visited during the day first.

Hope that helps!
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Mar 7th, 2013, 07:08 PM
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The first time we visited the Alhambra (Franco was in residence up the hill) we had the good luck of being with a friend who was fairly knowledgeable of its history and could follow most of the script in the private quarters of the Royal family. We wondered unobstructed through the Alhambra most of the day and rested in the shade in gardens in the late afternoon with no one else around, not even a guard. The Palace of the Lions was mostly intact, all where there waiting for us to arrive, but that is ancient history and we were much younger.

The audio guide is fine for some, but hardly ideal. Going on a group tour, as already noted, has its drawbacks, time being one. If I wanted the best experience, I would go with a private guide, someone who can let you in on more its history and secrets, and be there as early in the morning as possible. It's too bad the private chambers are only open to a select few. They were quite interesting and the views over the Albayzín spectacular.
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Mar 7th, 2013, 08:55 PM
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We had a private guide but if I were to return, I would want to tour it by myself with audio guide at the most,maybe just a guide book.
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Mar 7th, 2013, 09:51 PM
  #10
THR
 
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kja, enzian, thank you for your thorough responses to my semi-hijack question. Certainly confirmed my view to purchase tickets for both the night and the day; as well as to get the audio-tour.
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Mar 7th, 2013, 10:32 PM
  #11
kja
 
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I don't think you'll regret it, THR! And as others have mentioned, any reading or research you do in advance should add to your experience.

Hoping JJW also finds these comments helpful....
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