Although originally from Wisconsin and having lived in many places including Boston, Juneau, and now Fort Lauderdale, I have to say that my favorite place that I have lived is Spain. I had an unforgettable, life altering two years living in Madrid. While there, I certainly took advantage of traveling throughout Europe, parts of Asia, and even Africa; however, one of my repeat stops was always Andalucía and one of its most beautiful cities, Granada.
It has been years since my last visit to Granada, but the image opening this post taken from the Albaicín remains etched in my memory as one of the most beautiful views in all of Spain. For this post, I have asked Marina, a fellow travel writer and an avid explorer of Spain, to highlight her favorites. Enjoy her take on Granada, Alhambra, and of course food.
Granada, Alhambra and Tapas Olé
Located in the southern region of Andalucia, Granada is an ancient city. The Alhambra, an historical Moorish palace and one of the country’s most visited places, is located in this city known for its many cultural landmarks and its selection of tapas.
The Alhambra, a reddish fortress located on top of a hill, can be seen from most of the city. The Alhambra has many fortifications, gardens and museums. This ancient palace is decorated with colourful tiles in geometrical patterns that were laid out during the Nasrid dynasty. The gardens are watered using the system built during the reign of the Moors. Tours are organized around the palace. The Court of the Lions is one of the palace’s main patios, decorated with statues of lions.
The Alcazaba was the defensive fortress and the military quarters, and is one of the palace’s most ancient buildings. Next to the Alcazaba is the Mirador de San Nicolás, an observation platform located in the Bucket Tower that is known for its views towards the city.
Granada was one of the last Moorish kingdoms, and ancient Moorish architecture can be seen in most of the city’s ancient buildings, including the Palace of the Generalife. The gardens of the Generalife are located on top of the Hill of the Sun.
The Torre de la Vela is an ancient watch tower which was built in order to reinforce the fortress. Visitors will be able to visit the ruins of the Plaza de Armas, which used to be the main square.
Historic city center
The Old Quarter is known for its cobbled streets, many bars and restaurants and traditional white houses. The Monasterio of the Cartuja is another city landmark, an ancient monastery. The Basilica of Nuestra Señora de las Angustias is one of the city’s main churches. A short walk away visitors will find Granada’s cathedral, which was built after the conquest of Granada on the site of an ancient mosque. This cathedral is the place where the burial chamber of the Catholic Kings is located.
The Albaicín is the city’s ancient Arabic quarter. Located on a hill next to the Alhambra, this district is known for its cobblestone streets and traditional white houses. Visitors will be able to enjoy traditional tapas in the district’s main plazas. During a walk around this district visitors will be able to catch glimpses of the Alhambra, that can be seen from most places. The Mirador de San Nicolás is a large observation platform known for its views towards the palace. There are many shops that sell traditional blue and white pottery.
The city is known for its large portions of tapas. Aceitunas are local olives that are present on any table in most bars. Typical tapas include tortilla de patatas potato omelette, gazpacho cold soup made from cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers, and pimiento relleno stuffed peppers.
A short distance away from the city is Sierra Nevada, a mountain range known for its snowy mountains. Visitors will be able to enjoy ski, snowboard and other winter sports.
**Guest post provided by Marina, an avid explorer of Spain and travel writer for Destina.co.uk, which provides hotel and hostel bookings around the world including Spanish destinations such as Granada, Cuenca, Madrid, and more.