What you can see in the Alcazaba de Almeria
What you can see inside the Alcazaba
The interior of the Alcazaba is divided into three walled recintos, or compounds, spreading up the long slope from the lowest part near the entrance; the first two are Islamic, and the third is Christian. A long fortified wall, the Muralla de Jayran (or Jairan), named after the 11th century king who built them, stretches from the Alcazaba, down the hill and up the other side to the Cerro de San Cristobal. From here the panoramic views take in the Alcazaba itself, as well as the city and port stretched out below.
You enter the Alcazaba by climbing up the steps from Plaza Almanzor, entering through the Puerta de la Justicia (Justice Gate).
The triangular-shaped area you arrive in, the lowest of the three sections of the Alcazaba, was formerly the barracks for the fortress, and once had houses and streets. Now consisting of terraces across the hillside, with trees including palm, cypress, azalea, fig and carob, and beds of rosemary and lavender, it has towers along the wall. Look out for the stunning pink flowers of the Jupiter's tree in spring.
The pretty patterned floor, with bricks and tiles, features pools, channels and fountains in stars and other typical geometric designs often seen on azulejos (ceramic tiles), recalling the typical Arabic systems used to irrigate their gardens. The northern wall, where the Muralla de Jayran begins, is the only complete section of original wall
This part of the fortress was renovated in the late 20th century by the Alhambra's conservation architect, inspired by the Generalife. The gardens were planted, and pathways laid out, over the archaeological remains, without respecting the original layout of this section.
Near the top is the original Arabic aljibe, or water cistern, which stored water to irrigate the gardens.
This area was the heart of the Alcazaba, where the Palace complex of the Caliph was located. The wall separating the first and second compounds is called the Muro de la Campana de la Vela. It has a bell which was rung to warn the inhabitants when pirates were approaching. Climb up the towers (closed on windy days) for a great view of the Alcazaba.
At the eastern end of the Palace Complex, you can see the Ermita de San Juan chapel, which was converted from a mosque by the Catholic Monarchs. Nearby is the Caliphal aljibe which you can enter; images of flowing water are projected onto the walls.
You can also see a reconstruction of a Moorish-era house with two bedrooms, arranged around a central arcaded patio, which would have housed senior staff. It's fascinating to see the décor and furniture that would have been used, as well as original ornaments, toys, glassware and glazed pottery from the period, excavated in the area.
The remains of the old Arab baths, dating from the Nasrid era, can be seen in the upper part of this enclosure. The Moors' system of sanitation was advanced, as cleanliness - ritual washing before prayer, as well as regular bathing - is a key factor in Islamic culture and religion.
At the top of this section, on the right, is the Torre de la Odalisca, dating from Nasrid times.
Game of Thrones
The Casa del Alcaide (Governor's House), located where the Taifa ruler Al-Mutasim's palace would have been, was also built in the 20th century to imitate the Alhambra. If the garden looks familiar, with its colonnade looking onto an Islamic-style rectangular pool, it's because a scene in Series 6 of Game of Thrones - featuring a Dornish dastardly deed - was filmed here. To make the garden look like the fictional Kingdom of Dorne, the pool was merged by computer with the grutesco wall of the Alcazar of Seville, where scenes in Series 5 were shot.
The Tercer Recinto at the north-west end of the Alcazaba is a fortress which was added by the Catholic Monarchs. Its thick stone walls and sturdy round towers are in much better condition than the rest of the Alcazaba. The Torre de Homenaje, the large square tower near the wall of this topmost compound, was the residence of the fortress- governor.