Our Mediterranean Odyssey cruise provided an exciting sightseeing tour recently, as guests aboard Aegean Odyssey were offered a one-of-a-kind special event during her call to Malaga. On July 9th, the Alhambra Palace doors were opened in the evening exclusively for Voyages to Antiquity guests and it was an incredible experience.
The Alhambra Palace was originally constructed as a small fortress in AD 889, but it was converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada. Alhambra is a reflection of the culture of the last centuries of the Moorish rule of Al Andalus and today is now the inspiration for many stories and songs. This UNESCO World Heritage Site and its wonderful gardens are a favourite among our guests.
It was a Saturday and incredibly hot – 38 degrees – so the exclusive evening visit was welcomed – guests didn’t have to endure long queues and sweltering heat in the middle of the day.
Guests left the ship in mid-afternoon and travelled through the Spanish countryside from Malaga to Granada, which is a highlight in itself as the scenery in this region is absolutely magnificent. On arrival, a special dinner, with wine, was served at the Hotel Alhambra Palace. The service was fantastic and the food flavoursome, it was a wonderful afternoon set in stunning surroundings.
The Hotel Alhambra Palace is a rather special piece of Spanish history and was built by the Duke of San Pedro de Galatino, an aristocrat, businessman and politician. From 1910, the Duke managed the hotel with great success, and transformed the property, which now sported a grand casino, into a social and cultural centre for the city of Granada. In 1923 the president of the government banned gambling and the Duke was forced to close the casino, now the main source of his business revenue. The Alhambra Palace continued operations as a hotel until the 1930’s when the Duke died, just three months later the Spanish Civil War broke out and the Duke’s widowed Duchess donated the property to the military. The hotel operated as an army hospital for three years and re-opened as a hotel in 1942 following the end of the Civil War. In 1980, the heirs of San Pedro de Galatino assumed direct management of the hotel and in 2014 the Hotel Alhambra Palace became the second oldest actively managed hotel in Spain, and the only hotel that has continued with the same owners for its 106 years of history.
Following dinner, Aegean Odyssey’s guests made their way to the palace complex, entering the main building exclusively at 8pm. It was incredibly quiet inside without the crowds and it made for some wonderful photo opportunities. It was a true spectacle and made even better thanks to the natural light at this time of the day.
After cameras were exhausted, the group enjoyed an evening stroll in the palace gardens just as the sun was beginning to set. It was a real once-in-a-lifetime experience and will have certainly left many lasting memories with those who experienced it. Guests left the complex at 10pm and were offered a special midnight buffet upon returning to Aegean Odyssey.
The exclusive evening visit to Alhambra Palace was a real treat for everyone involved and we enjoy organising one-of-a-kind ‘special events’, they are always a nice surprise and they give our guests an extraordinary experience to share with family and friends once they return home.