Spain Guide

 

Granada Spain

Granada is the capital of the Spanish province of the same name, located in Andalucia in southern Spain. It's most famous for being home to the fabulous Alhambra Palace which is widely regarded as being one of the 10 architectural wonders of the world. Dig deeper than the modern, urban sprawl of the highly industrialised zone and you'll find a magical city where flamenco dancers perform in gypsy caves and Andalucia's exotic Moorish past oozes from the walls of ancient edifices.

The city is 70 kilometres north of the Costa Tropical, looking out over the fertile Vega plain with the magnificent mountains of the Sierra Nevada as its backdrop. If you're visiting the city at certain times of the year you can ski in the morning and sunbathe on the beaches of the Mediterranean in the afternoon.

Granada doesn't have an international airport but you can fly in from Madrid (45 minutes) or Barcelona (one hour). The nearest international airport is Malaga, 130 kilometres to the southwest.

The Alhambra is undoubtedly the biggest magnet for most tourists a magnificent Moorish stronghold which was the sumptuous royal residence of the Arab Sultans from the 13th century until they were driven from Spain by the Catholic monarchs King Ferdinand and his Queen Isabella. Its Alcazaba fortress, beautiful palaces, elaborate courtyards and luxurious residences were built over several centuries. The sheer luxury and beauty of its palaces were a triumph of Islamic art and workmanship, unrivalled anywhere in the world.

 

Granada was the capital of the western Islamic empire after the Christian armies recaptured Cordoba and the Arab rulers spared no expense when it came to pouring their considerable knowledge, skills, gold and manpower into the construction of their final stronghold. Despite centuries of decay, damage and looting, the Alhambra is still guaranteed to take your breath away with its architectural beauty and interior walls adorned with impossibly intricate artwork.

Famous American writer and former ambassador to Spain Washington Irving took up residence in the palace in 1829. It was here that he penned his best selling "Tales of the Alhambra" which focused world attention on Granada and conjured up a romantic image of Andalucia which persists to this day.

On the hill top facing the Alhambra is the old Arab Jewish quarter known as the Albaicin a delightful honeycomb of cobbled streets, whitewashed houses, plazas and historic buildings. The area of El Sacromonte, overlooking the city from the north, is famous for its caves where Granada's biggest gypsy community once lived; these days they host flamenco shows for international tourists.

Another major visitor attraction is the Gothic cathedral with its Royal Chapel (Capilla Real), built as the mausoleum of Ferdinand and Isabella.

One of Granada's most famous sons was Federico Garcia Lorca, one of the greatest Spanish artists and writers of the 20th century. He was shot by firing squad at the start of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 ostensibly because of his homosexuality though his outspoken criticism of Franco, Catholicism and the monarchy is a more likely explanation of his murder. You can visit Lorca's former home, now a museum dedicated to his life's work, in Garcia Lorca Park.

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