Granada is a Muslim and Christian city. The encounter between these two strong cultures translated into a special life style, food, customs and landscapes. This is called the Andalusi legacy that is very present in its people. It gives them a special character and makes them to feel proud of being Grenadians, or as they call themselves: “Granainos”.
Granada is a medium-sized city (498,365 counting the metropolitan area population) and is located in Southern Spain, in Andalusia.
By doing a tour of the city we can appreciate this mix of Christian and Muslim cultures in their buildings, monuments, streets, etc.
Let’s get started, visiting the Cathedral of Granada. Granada Cathedral is a Gothic temple which was ordered in 1506 to Henry Aegean by Carlos I of Spain. This Gothic temple contrasts with the Alcaicería (Muslim market of narrow streets) that we can find around it.
After crossing the Alcaicería, we are in Bibrambla Square. The meaning of this name is “River Gate” because it was on the riverbank. In Arab times, parties and fair were held in the square. Later, in the times of Christians, bullfights were celebrated there.
Turning back and crossing the Gran Via road, we find the street Calle Elvira. Wandering through this narrow street full of pubs we find a steep cobbled street, known as “The Tea Shops Street” (“La Calle de las Teterías”). It’s basically another Muslim market riddled with shops and tea shops. In any of these tea shop we can taste authentic teas, sweets, juices, smoothies, etc. at the most Moorish style. It feels like if we have been transported us to a souk of a city of Morocco.
Going up by “The Teahouses Street” we get into the neighbourhood of Albaicín. This neighbourhood is a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It has a peculiar population that is different from the rest of the city. This neighbourhood is so peculiar because most of its inhabitants are gipsy families and foreigners with hippie lifestyle that come from countries with a high standard of living such as Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Germany, etc. They say that they came down here fleeing from stress and lifestyle of those countries, and attracted by these genuine people and the beauty of the neighbourhood and the city. Most of them, both Gypsies and foreigners, live in caves. Some of them without water or electricity and others with the normal amenities of any dwelling. There are flamenco venues and tapas bars everywhere. We can also find the “Carmenes” that are private homes with courtyards. If we are lucky to see a Carmen inside we will be dazzled as they are true pieces of art.
Walking around this neighbourhood we can find sources, squares and secret places that remind us of the mixture of cultures. Upon reaching the top of the section, we arrive at “Mirador de San Nicolas” where we will see a panoramic view of the city and the most visited monument in Spain: The Alhambra with Sierra Nevada in the background.
The visit to the Alhambra is a must. The Alhambra is an Andalusian palace city. It is a palace and fortress complex that housed the monarch and the court of the Kingdom Nazari of Granada. Inside visit is highly recommended because it is where it is its real appeal. Its decoration is among the best of Andalusian art. Furthermore, its location and adaptation, creating a new landscape completely integrated with nature, is one of its great appeals. To enjoy this city within the city of Granada is advisable to spend a whole day. The fort is full of rituals, stories and legends that you may get to know deeper during your visit.
After visiting the Alhambra we can relax with some tapas in “Paseo de los Tristes” and get a relaxing bath in the Arab baths.
But Granada goes beyond a city with a strong cultural load. It also has natural resources throughout the province that provide travellers with a variety of options to enjoy nature. It has beach, mountain and countryside for all kinds of sports just over an hour from the city. We decided this time to start visiting the mountain. In particular the Grenadine Alpujarra. The Grenadine Alpujarra (Alpujarra de Granada) is a region located in the Southeastern part of the province of Granada. It borders the regions of Guadix to the North, Vega of Granada to the Northwest, Lecrín Valley to the West and the Coast of Granada to the South and Almeria Alpujarra to the East, in the Almería province. The physical environment of the Alpujarra, Sierra Nevada, has been declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, Natural Park and National Park mainly due to its endemic flora and its particular ecoculture. It offers several hiking trails where you can see endemic fauna and flora.
On our tour we decided to visit three of the most beautiful villages of the Alpujarras: Capileira, Pampaneira and Bubion. They are extremely beautiful villages. Its white houses contrast with the green landscape. Time stops in these villages and relaxation took hold of us. Here there is no hurry or stress. Hiking, enjoying the sun, eating a nutritious dish alpujarreño, trying the local wine and of course trying the Iberian ham, well known throughout the country for its high quality, are quintessential activities here. Las Alpujarras are ideal for those who like to practice meditation and there are some retreat and yoga centres here. In fact, the only Tibetan Buddhist centre of Andalusia is in this region.
But Granada province offers more than relaxation. Just a few minutes from the city, we arrive at Valle de Lecrín. Hiking, climbing, abseiling, bungee jumping, rafting, mountain biking, etc. This valley offers a wide range of outdoor sports, either risky or less risky depending on taste.
If the weather is good, you can go to the coast to swim in the sea, but if not, you can still go to enjoy the fresh fish. We will find a variety of fish in different forms of preparation. These fresh fish, along with vegetables grown in this city and province, the quality of the meat from cattle fed naturally and the local wine is part of the so-called Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet is recommended by doctors worldwide for its beneficial qualities for our health. But the Mediterranean diet is not only a way of eating, it’s also a lifestyle. It is taking time to enjoy good food, good wine, good company, and a walk through the countryside or along the beach on a sunny day.
Granada city and province has all of this, although it is small in size, it has a great wealth on it. Visiting it is a pleasure, but getting to know it, immersing yourself in it and understanding it, it will be even more.
Author: Blanca Pérez
Co-founder and administration EcoMind Travel