Second part of the Spanish trip went to Granada. This is approximately an hour and half from Malaga and of course I am here to mainly see Alhambra, a dream of mine for 20 years. We will start this report with a few things from Granada itself and then of course look at the Moorish castle of Alhambra.
The city of Granada is about a quarter of the size of Malaga, but of higher importance. As you should know, this was the capital of the Moorish empire. Founded by the muslims early 700 AD and under islamic influence until 1492 when Isabella and Ferdinand conquered it. The castle itself is one of the top destinations if the world and actually the most visited site in Spain with 2,5 million visitors per year (more than Segrada Familia in Barcelona). We’ll talk more about Alhambra later, but the city is of course filled with Moorish architecture and heritage. Especially the area of Albaicin, a neighbourhood with old town feeling.
We were there three days in total and spent in total nine hours (6 plus 3) at Alhambra, Whenever you google a visit to Alhambra, you will find information that you need to buy tickets in advance – and that is true.
Alhambra is a very beautiful city. Very. You can of course spend tons of time at the castle but also see various houses, baths and sights in the city. Many people skip that, mainly out of time. But it is worth an extra day.
Somewhere in this story I need to contemplate about the story of Granada. “History is written by its victors”, they say. When visiting places the cathedral of Granada etc, there is much talk about “the liberation of Granada”. And this city is of course an example of how difficult our joint history is with the Islamic and Jewish culture. When Granada was conquered in 1492 by Isabelle and Fernando, they built 22 curches and a cathedral – on all muslim places. 22 new churches in a city of 40 000 people… And then they invented the inquisition. They really wanted to eliminate everything Moorish or islamic. Everything is basically wiped off the city.
I miss a lot of angles to the victory and the history of Granada. When passing a house like House of Zafra you read that Zafra got seven houses just by the river. He got it as a reward for the negotiation with the last Moorish ruler. Isabella and Fernando were happy and gave him seven attractive houses – but where did the families that lived there go? I miss a lot of perspectives… It’s like talking about Poland or Lithuania and not mentioning the Jewish heritage, or talking about Finland and not mentioning the connection to Sweden… There no rights or wrongs – I just need more.
A hammam that “survived” just because they built a house on top of it.
But it is a beautiful city.
There is a classical “medina” or market in the old town. Of course a bit touristic, but nice,
The enormous cathedral is a monument of propaganda. Just by the medina, so that people will remember that they are Christian now.
If you have time – check out the Dobla del Dorro tour. It’s six stops in the city with Moorish heritage.
But basically no Jewish heritage… And Granada was the capital of Jewish Golden Age for a while…
Granada is Spanish for pomegranate and if you look carefully you will find these pomegranates all over the city.
Granada is a tapas town (just like Malaga). Super nice neighborhouds. Some places are extremely trendy and some are extremely touristic. One thing you should now – when you order a drink you get a free tapas. This is (almost) true to all places regardless if they are trendy or touristic. But you don’t get to choose. You are served a tapas of their liking. It could be a paella, or tripe…
Nice and active evening atmosphere.
But the man attraction for this trip is of course Alhambra. If you are planning to go here you will most likely google the site and you should. Tip number one – get tickets. Tip number two – there will be people everywhere so there are no tricks for finding sights without a crowd. Work with what you have instead.
As you should have googled, this is a castle, palace and fortress. Built by the Muslims, lasted for almost 800 years, conqoured (or “liberated”) the same year Columbus reached America and then changed for renaissance, baroque etc…
Pictures like this are all over the internet, when you google Alhambra. But it is so beautiful. We got two slots to see the main sight of Nasrid Palace. One slot at 11.30 and one the day after at 16.30. There is no difference in number of people. We just thought we would take it slow and see how different the palace looked at different times.
Same house, different view. One of the moorish features if to have calm ponds – not fountains.
But looking at Moorish architecture is amazing.
The Alhambra grounds are enormous. I read someone compared it to Louvren in Paris, and it is huge. Being a Swede starved of sun and Spring, this was a great few days.
Besides architecture, one can always look at tiles.
And then the gardens… Specifically Generalife was of course wonderful.
Time to stop this introduction to Granada by mentioning their gardens in general. The name for a garden in this region is Carmen. Pretty cute. But spread all over the city, they are magnicifent.
(Alhambra in the background)
So, finally – the top ten for Granada
1. Carmen de los Martires. Public and free of charge garden, just by Alhambra. Large, gorgeous, a paradise.
2. Generalife, the garden of Alhambra. Enormous, gorgeous, resting and pieceful.
3. Tapas at Los Manueles. A classic bar with great service and nice tapas.
4. Tapas at La Tana. Small space and super crowded. Great fun. And free tapas.
5. The Medina by the cathedral
6. More tapas at Los Diamantos. Did someone say “free tapas”?
7. Enjoying the view at neighbourhood Albaicin.
8. The history and view at Casa del Chapiz.
9. Sneak entrance (don’t tell anyone) at Justice Gate at Alhambra.
10. Sunset at Alcazaba at Alhambra.