Exploring Moorish Granada

We finally made it to Andalucia and our itinerary covered three stops; Granada, Ronda, Seville (wanted to add Cadiz and Cordoba but we were running short on days having covered Barcelona and Ibiza as well)

What Ibiza lacked in terms of culture and history, well…Andalucia more than made up for it! 🙂

Granada is mainly synonymous with AlHambra, but there is so much more to explore in this city that truly takes you back in time…

We hired one of the airport taxis to take us to Hotel Casa 1800 Granada. This was a most charming hotel located in the historic area of Granada, right next to the Albaicin neighborhood and walking distance to most sights. The unexpected charm and coziness of this boutique hotel really caught us off-guard (after our Ibiza hotel – read here) and we were immediately psyched for our next few days!

The hotel is located in a luxurious Granadian house that is typical of the seventeenth century with a central courtyard replete with fountains, urns and windows with gorgeous shutters. The hotel opens up into narrow alley(s) leading onto Plaza Nueva and the souk (mini morocco).

Plaza Nuevo is definitely great to grab a coffee or a drink while people watching. And maybe some street flamenco performance!

We made our way towards the cathedral and the Alcaceria souks that offer much better souvenir shopping (quality, variety and price) than any other shops that we came across. The market is reminiscent of an old muslim bazaar (used to be a silk market) and is bursting with colorful shops selling everything from bags, apparel to ceramics and kitschy magnets. We highly recommend walking through this area even if you don’t want to shop for any Andalusian wares – although it will be hard to resist!

Next up was the Cathedral and Capilla Real. We were surprised by the towering structure built in the roman style and a spectacular gold interior created by the finest of artisans. This extravagant structure succeeded in the establishment of the christian faith over the moors…

We grabbed a quick bite at Restaurant Carmelarecommended by our hotel. The food was absolutely delicious – so much so that we didn’t even pause for pictures (save for one)! :/

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The following day; AlHambra, sunset at Saint Nicolas and Socramonte caves.

The legendary palaces of the AlHambra and the Generalife need no introduction. Travel tip: Set aside half a day for the visit and plan ahead (i.e. buy tickets in advance) as they do restrict visitor numbers. The walk uphill (Alhambra is located on Sabika Hill overlooking the city of Granada) can be quite exhausting for the physically un-fit, so consider yourself warned!

The initial walk through the Alhambra includes several gates that mark the entrance, various dynasties added on to the site over time (from the 11th century to the 15th century). Walk your way to the Alcazaba which is largely in ruins, but climbing to the top offers an incredible view of the Sierra Nevada and the white villages.

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As you make your way to the palace of Charles V, there are several sites to admire the gorgeous view of the city beneath…

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An amazing view right across from the palace of Charles V
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Palace of Charles V

The Nasrid palaces are truly what makes the Alhambra! The architecture is delicate, poetic and transports you into a fairytale setting  from the Arabian Nights. The palaces are built in a combination of brick, wood and stucco in keeping with the Islamic style and thought.

Entrance to the Nasrid palaces
Entrance to the Nasrid palaces
The main palace where the sultan would receive dignitaries
The main palace where the sultan would receive dignitaries and discuss political matters

As you exit the Alhambra and make your way to Generalife, there are several gardens with beautiful fountains and water courses

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One of my most favorite views

And gardens with lots of trees laden with pomegranates, custard apples, sour oranges, pears…

We rushed out of Alhambra to make our way towards El Mirador de Saint Nicolas to catch the sunset. The views of the Alhambra against the Sierra Nevada glowing softly ochre were breathtaking! Travel tip: we recommend getting a spot at one of the restaurants “with a view” that offer drinks and a great meal alongwith a spectacular view. It may be touristy but the experience is one of a kind!

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After dinner, we headed over to the Sacromonte gypsy caves to catch a Flamenco performance. This was an amazing experience that we cannot recommend enough (even when compared to Seville Flamenco)! More than just the dance, the music in the caves sounds incredible because of the natural acoustic quality and of course, they put up quite a show!

watch a video here!

Our last morning in Granada, we wrapped up with a half-way walk up to the Albaicin neighborhood (ran out of time!) 😦 and some last minute souvenir shopping. Then off to pick up the car for our drive to Ronda.

Granada will always have a special place in our heart! ❤

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Hope you enjoyed reading!

-A&A

 

 

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