Tales of the Alhambra is a collection of essays, verbal sketches, and stories by Washington Irving.
Shortly after completing a biography of Christopher Columbus in 1828, Washington Irving travelled from Madrid, where he had been staying, to Granada, Spain. At first sight, he described it as "a most picturesque and beautiful city, situated in one of the loveliest landscapes that I have ever seen." Irving was preparing a book called A Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada, a history of the years 1478–1492, and was continuing his research on the topic. He immediately asked the then-governor of the historic Alhambra Palace as well as the archbishop of Granada for access to the palace, which was granted because of Irving's celebrity status. Aided by a 17-year old guide named Mateo Ximenes, Irving was inspired by his experience to write Tales of the Alhambra. Throughout his trip, he filled his notebooks and journals with descriptions and observations though he did not believe his writing would ever do it justice. He wrote, "How unworthy is my scribbling of the place." Irving continued to travel through Spain until he was appointed as secretary of legation at the United States Embassy in London, serving under the incoming minister Louis McLane. He arrived in London by late September 1829.