Spain

Exploring Granada, Spain 5


Whitewashed buildings, cobble stone pathways and blue skies – the Mediterranean locale of Granada, Spain is clear. But beyond the bell towers, in the lower quarters of the Albaycin district, a vibrant, colourful market comes to life. It feels like the medinas of the Maghreb. Of all the Andalusian towns I visited, the North African influence seemed strongest in Granada (read about Seville here). It was in fact, the last stronghold of the Moors on the Iberian peninsula. And their legacy remains in the renowned citadel and palace, Alhambra.

Granada, Spain: Nasrid Palace at Alhambra

Nasrid Palace at Alhambra

Bypassing the ticket queues (you need to pre-purchase a ticket online weeks in advance to avoid the queues), we spent the afternoon at Alhambra’s complex of palaces, forts and gardens. Alhambra sits atop a hill and has commanding views of the valley below, the sprawling city of Granada, the whitewashed quarters of the Albaycin, and the snow capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada in the distance. The centerpiece is the 14th century Nasrid Palace, with its exquisite carved arches. With the skilled use of geometric patterns in their art, it’s no wonder the Moors were accomplished in mathematics. (Geometry energized me at school – I can spend hours tracing the motifs and calligraphic designs at these buildings.)

Granada, seen from Generalife

Granada, seen from Generalife

Nasrid Palace at Alhambra

Nasrid Palace fountain

Alhambra, Granada

Alhambra, Granada

Generalife gardens at Alhambra

Generalife gardens at Alhambra

The Alcazar (fort) looked raw in comparison, but had great views of Granada. At the other end of the complex, we ambled through the gardens at Generalife, (from the Arabic Jannat-al-Arif or Garden of the Architect). The carefully laid out gardens and water fountains led the way to the much simpler residence with its peaceful courtyard.

Granada Spain: Generalife gardens at Alhambra

Generalife gardens at Alhambra

Generalife gardens at Alhambra

Generalife gardens at Alhambra

Unlike the grandeur of the palaces I visited, the hotel room at the Melia Granada was disappointing. It was not the room itself, but the terrible sound proofing which was bothersome. It doesn’t matter how  well appointed the room is, or how elegant the lobby is, if I can’t get a good night’s sleep because of wafer walls, I won’t be returning to that hotel again! My morning grogginess was quickly dissipated, however, thanks to the pastry selection at the breakfast buffet.

Granada centre

Granada centre

Granada’s contrasts is also its diversity. One of my dinners was a paella with a tagine, a blend of Spanish and Moroccan cultures. In the higher areas of the Albaycin district, the Church of Saint Nicholas stands side by side the newly built Mezquita of Granada (the first mosque to be opened after a 500 year ban). The plaza outside these buildings affords a splendid view over the rooftops of the residential neighbourhood and across the Darro River Valley to the hill on which the palaces of Alhambra sit.

Continue reading the next part on Spain, as I experience Cordoba.

Granada Spain: Granada Mezquita Mayor

Granada Mezquita Mayor

Granada Spain: Alhambra, seen from the Albaycin

Alhambra, seen from the Albaycin neighbourhood


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5 thoughts on “Exploring Granada, Spain

  • Josh

    Looks like you really made the most of your trip in Granada! The Alhambra never ceases to amaze me. Having lived here for four years I have visited as many times! But your readers should know that in fact you don’t have to book online weeks in advance; the trick is to simply wander up to the Alhambra around midday and purchase tickets with a credit card from the self service machines! Nobody realises that a certain number of tickets are allotted for these machines only. Great pictures man!

    • travelblogger Post author

      Thanks for the tip, Josh! I didn’t know about that one.
      I found a similar situation at the Mezquita in Cordoba. People joined long queues to buy tickets at the counter instead of using the self service machine (which had no queue)!