Having a travel blog, being from Granada and not having any entry on my wonderful city is unforgivable, so here are some tips for places to visit, restaurants to eat and tips that will be useful during your stay.
If you are looking for accommodation in this city, take a look at the family tourist apartments and contact me without problem to check availability and prices.
A little bit of history
Legend says Granada owes its name to one of the daughters of Noah or Hercules called “Granata”, although in the history of Granada its name is documented before the Arab conquest in the Jewish neighborhood of “Garnata”.
In the year 306 the Council of Elvira was celebrated, the first of Spain. The three populations that existed during the Muslim invasion (Elvira, Qastilla and Garnata) depended on the Caliphate of Cordova. At the end of the 11th century the Almoravid invasion ended the Zirid dynasty and in 1237 the constitution of the Kingdom of Granada was completed, which remained the last Muslim stronghold until 1492.
In the fourteenth century, during the reigns of Yusuf I and Muhammad V, Granada lived its maximum splendor. At that time the whole of the Alhambra and the Generalife was built, forming the most visited and famous monument in Spain.
On January 2, 1492, Granada is taken by the Catholic Monarchs. A new era of the history of Granada begins, with the splendor of Christian culture, and even more so with the arrival of the Emperor Charles V, building all the great Christian monuments, coinciding with late Gothic and Renaissance. The splendor would return in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with the great works of the Baroque and Post-Baroque buildings.
There would be a decline in the following centuries, and Granada won’t return to popularity until the arrival of the writer Washintong Irving. With the arrival in Granada of Queen Elizabeth II, in 1862, Granada capital gains boom again.
Here I leave a map for you to locate and the personalized guide of Granada:
- The Alhambra and the Generalife are well known, so just remind you that I consider it essential to purchase tickets in advance, as they are in high demand and are usually sold out very easily. Here I leave the official link where you can buy tickets, choosing the exact day and time (the exact time is for the entrance to the Nasrid palaces, for the rest of the site you can access throughout the day). If they have already run out by the date you are coming, there are some companies that offer tickets with a guide and usually have availability, some of them are walkinggranada and allingranada. At some times of the year they usually sell out at all points of sale (April, May or September are usually the months with the most demand), if it turns out that you come and there are no tickets left, I inform you that without entry you can also visit the venue Outside, stroll through the viewpoints overlooking the Albaicin, right at the entrance to the citadel and the entrance to the Palace of Carlos V is free. As the advice of a local, I can tell you the secret that in the forests outside the monumental site you will find one of the most beautiful places in the city and the freshest spot in the city in summer.
The Alhambra, named for its walls of reddish color, is located on the top of the hill of al-Sabika, facing the neighborhoods of the Albaicin and the Alcazaba. Its strategic position means that it dominates the entire city and the fertile valley of Granada. Its set is completely walled and has an irregular shape.
It is recorded for the first time in the ninth century, when in 889 Sawwar ben Hamdun had to take refuge in the Alcazaba and repair it due to civil strife that hit the Caliphate of Cordova, to which Granada belonged. Later, this enclosure began to expand and to be populated, although not until what would be later, since the first zirid monarchs fixed their residence in what later would be the Albaicín. Despite the addition of the Alhambra castle to the city walls in the 11th century, which made it a military fortress from which the entire city was dominated, it was not until the 13th century with the arrival of the first monarch Nazari, Mohamed ben Al-Hamar (Mohamed I, 1238-1273) when the royal residence was set at the Alhambra. This fact marked the beginning of its period of greatest splendor. First the old part of the Alcazaba was reinforced, and the Torre de la Vela and the Tribute were built, water was raised from the Darro River, warehouses, deposits were built and the construction of the palace and the walled enclosure that Mohamed II continued (1273 -1302) and Mohamed III (1302-1309), who are also attributed a public bath and the Mosque on which the present church of Santa María was built. We owe to Yusuf I (1333-1353) and Mohamed V (1353-1391) the immense majority of the constructions of the Alhambra that have reached our time. From the renovation of the Alcazaba and the palaces, through the extension of the walled enclosure, the Door of Justice, the extension and decoration of the towers, construction of the Baths and the Comares Room, the Barca Room, until the Patio de los Leones and its annexes. Of the later Nasrid kings virtually nothing is preserved. From the time of the Catholic Monarchs to today we can highlight the demolition of part of the architectural complex by Charles V to build the palace that bears his name, the construction of the Emperor’s rooms and the Queen’s Peinador and the abandonment of the conservation of the Alhambra from the 18th century. During the French domination part of the fortress was flown and until the 19th century it did not begin its repair, restoration and conservation that is maintained until today.
The most significant historical monuments of the city, after the Alhambra and the Generalife, are the Charterhouse and the cathedral and royal chapel, between various churches, monasteries, etc.
- La Cartuja de Granada is a monastery founded by order of Don Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba (El Gran Capitán) on an ancient Arab carmen called Aynadamar (Fountain of the Tears), in fulfillment of a vow pronounced in that place to save life after a trap of the Muslims. The works began in 1506, but it would be three centuries until it was finished. In it the monks Carthusians lived until they expelled them in 1835.* A carmen is a type of urban housing typical of the city of Granada, with garden, fruit trees, flowers, meadows, swimming pools, with lots of green space, vegetable garden, shadows and very leafy that constitutes an extension of the house, which today we would call it an “orchard”. The Carmen is a space closed to the outside, surrounded by walls of about two meters high, usually whitewashed, with lush vegetation. It is typical of the neighborhoods settled in the hills of the city (Albaicín and Realejo) and, therefore, its land is usually arranged in staggered terrace.
- The Cathedral of Granada is the first Renaissance Cathedral in Spain, and the second largest Cathedral in the country. Projected in the heart of Granada, it had to show the world the importance of the city and the important moment that was being lived. Of extraordinary dimensions, the Cathedral of Granada shows an interesting, completely round Altar, unprecedented in the history of architecture and the most interesting collection of works by the important Andalusian and Grenadian artist, Alonso Cano. Likewise, the Royal Chapel of Granada is a temple of Catholic worship that now forms an annex to the Cathedral. It was founded as a funerary chapel by the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, and also houses the graves of his daughter and heiress Juana la Loca and her husband, Felipe el Hermoso.
- Carmen de los Mártires is one of the best preserved Carmen houses in Granada. It has magnificent romantic gardens of the nineteenth century and is located just to the right of the Alhambra. It has excellent views of the city of Granada and the Sierra Nevada and its entrance is free. The silent gardens contain a number of statues, grottos, and a lake with its romantic tower and bridge and its ducks, peacocks and black swan. This is the ideal place to take a walk, to rest a little.
- The Alhambra Palace hotel is a private, emblematic private construction, which you can visit inside, have a coffee or a beer in its restaurant and contemplate the excellent views from its terrace. Leaving the hotel on the left, you can walk down a very beautiful route (callejón del niño royo) that passes through a square that almost nobody knows and is beautiful, which is called Puerta del Sol. All this neighborhood was occupied by the Jewish community in the Middle Eda.
- The neighborhood of the Almanzora is not very known by tourists, however it is very attractive. It is a neighborhood that is located just below the Torre de la Vela de la Alhambra, accessed by an alley just next to the Tourism Office of Plaza Nueva. It has beautiful views over the lower part of the Albaicín, but it is only residential. You will not find shops or bars.
- The Albaicín neighborhood will appear in all the guides you find and it deserves several visits. Always on foot (at least the descent), here are three ways to go:1. One of them, is to go up to the viewpoint of San Miguel Alto, (taxi or bus # 7) from where you can see, in my opinion, the most beautiful view of Granada, the Alhambra, the Darro river and the Albaicín. From there, you can walk down to the Sacromonte, or Fajalauza and Carril de San Luis, or directly by stairs to the cross of the Rauda, and from here, continue through the path of En medio (here is a chiringuito with beautiful views) until you reach the Barranco de los Negros where the Sacromonte interpretation center is located. In any case once in the Sacromonte you can have a drink in the Juanillo Restaurant or in the cave bar Los faroles right next door. In this area you will see the famous caves where zambras are made.
*The zambra (word from Arabic), is a flamenco dance of the gypsies of Granada and Almeria. It is danced with bare feet, with castanets on the fingers, the blouse knotted under the bust and the long skirt secured at hip height with wide folds to make it float in the air.In the direction of Granada and with the Alhambra to your left you will have a nice view over the monument and over the Darro River. From here you will arrive easily to the Paseo del Padre Manjón, (known as Paseo de los Tristes) which is an area of tapas. It is very pretty, although it has specialized in tourist bars. From here you follow the Carrera del Darro, which someone said has the most beautiful one hundred meters of street in the whole world. It’s a lot of exaggeration, perhaps, but the truth is that it deserves the ride. If you cross in the direction of Plaza Nueva, the second bridge you will find a little frequented neighborhood and in the street you have El Hammam, Arab baths, where there are baths and massages. There are also other Arab baths in San Miguel Alta street.2. The second option is to go up to contemplate the Mirador de San Nicolás. I advise to go on foot from Plaza Nueva, following Calle Aire, C / Beso-C / Rosal, C / Aljibe de Trillo, placeta del Comino, Cuesta de las Cabras, viewpoint of San Nicolás. The best view of the Alhambra is during the sunset. The most famous viewpoints of the city are San Nicolás and San Cristóbal, a few meters from each other. San Nicolás is the most spectacular and touristy but from both you get beautiful views when the night lighting of the Alhambra begins. In the surroundings of the viewpoint of San Nicolás you will find many bar terraces for dinner or tapas, although look well where you enter because there are many bars just for tourists.
In the streets that connect both viewpoints you will find the Arco de las Pesas, the old entrance to the Albaicín, the Plaza Larga, and the Calle del Agua. And the Plaza Aliatar. In this area you will find many good bars to eat and tapas.
In this area I recommend you eat / dine at the Casa Torcuato restaurant and try the snails at the Aliatar Los Caracoles bar. If you want a romantic dinner with views of the Alhambra, I recommend the restaurant “El Agua“, with moderate prices or the Restaurant Estrellas de San Nicolás, for a more special occasion.
To get out of the Albaicín, I suggest you do it in the San Miguel Bajo square, visiting the Dar al Horra palace (mother of Boabdil), the Mirador de la Lona (with the house where the canvases of the 3 caravels of Colón were made), C / Cruz de Quirós, Cuesta Marañas, Caldelería and Plaza Nueva.
In the area of the Caldelería it is worth getting lost in the moorish shops and in the various tearooms that offer teas, crepes and magnificent Arabic sweets.3. The third and last option is at your leisure. The Albaicín is like a city within the city, every street, every corner has a special charm. Any route taken down from the viewpoint of San Nicolás to the Carrera del Darro (under the Alhambra), is wonderful and attractive.
The neighborhood of Realejo Alto is a very interesting neighborhood, although quite unknown. It is the old Jewish district of the city. The route that I recommend is to walk from the church of San Cecilio to Plaza Nueva through the street Plegadero Alto, Alamillos and Puerta del Sol. You will find a beautiful viewpoint with an old laundry, well preserved.
The Jardines del Genil is a landscaped area on the right bank of the Genil River, with two very pleasant pedestrian boulevards, in one part quiet and another lively and bustling with terraces. The kiosk stands out for the music, the fountains and the steam engine. The municipal library is here. It is highly recommended to have a drink at the popular Kiosco Las Titas. It also has a nice swings area, for those who come with small children.
- Granada also has a cosmopolitan modern area, with kind of easy parking. It is in a southerly direction, following the course of the Genil River, next to the Science Park. It is a very interesting interactive museum, both for children and young people and for adults. Inside, the “Mariposario” and other exhibition rooms attract attention, as well as daily demonstrations with raptors and temporary exhibitions. Next door is the Museum of Historical Memory of Andalusia in a building that has won several architectural awards. I like the building more than the content of the museum, which is too specific and simple at the same time about the history of Andalusia.
- Finally, for snow lovers, Granada is an ideal option to combine culture and snow sports. Only 30 minutes by car you have the most southern ski resort in Europe. With 120 skiable kilometers (at its best) it offers a good quality snow with practically guaranteed sun.
If you are going to spend more than 2 days in Granada, here is a link with my personal guide to visit the surroundings of Granada.
Granada is famous for its tapas. In all the bars you go to, for each drink they will give you a small portion of food included in the price of the drink. It is difficult to make a list with the best ones (since this is very personal), but I will leave you a list of my favorites:
- “La esquinita de Javi” (The little corner of Javi) in Plaza Mariana Pineda and “Los Diamantes” in Calle Navas, fried fish specialists (very fresh and nothing greasy).
- “Casa Julio” bar in Calle Hermosa (next to Plaza Nueva), “la Bella y la Bestia” in Paseo de los Tristes, “Los Tintos” winery in San Isidro street, or “D’Platos” with a more modern street atmosphere Acera del Darro (along El Corte Inglés).
- As vegetarian / vegan options, I recommend the restaurant “Hicuri” in Santa Escolástica street and the restaurant “El Piano” in Santiago street.
- In my favorite neighborhood, El Realejo, I recommend the bar “Terra” with some great burgers or the restaurant “Altramuces” or “Casa Cristóbal” in the “Campo del Principe”. A place with a lot of charm to drink something.
- If you want to eat “raciones” (rations) and you are already a little tired of tapas, my recommendation is “La Pataleta“, with an excellent service and a kitchen that you’ll love.
- The most famous cafe in the city for its famous churros, is the cafeteria “Futbol“, in the Mariana Pineda square.
- Finally, you can not leave Granada without tasting the authentic piononos de Santa Fe (a town in Granada). It consists of two parts, a thin sheet of cake rolled into a cylinder (the base of the cake), “drunk” with some kind of very sweet liquid that gives a nice and fresh texture, topped with toast. It’s a cake a little cloying in my opinion, but people like it a lot. You can (and should) eat one or two bites. The best of all Granada you will find in any of the “Casa Isla” bakeries, which are scattered throughout the city.