Granada | A Beginner’s Guide
This week we have a guest post by busy blogger and Granada resident Molly Sears-Piccavey.
This is her Beginner’s Guide to Granada
Most people have heard of Spain’s most visited monument, Granada´s Alhambra Palace, but beyond that often people don’t know much more about the area. I’ve lived in the city of Granada for more than 6 years now. When I first came here the cobbled streets and locals really fascinated me. Here are a few tips to enhance your experience when visiting Granada.
The Alhambra Palace and Generalife is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As it is popular, it’s best to book tickets online before arriving here. You can choose between nighttime visits which take just under 2 hours or the longer day tour. Both tours include the Nasrid Palaces and the Court of the Lions which are the most emblematic symbols of the Alhambra. On a warm summer evening you can walk around in evening shadows taking in the reflections in the pools and see the shapes of the inscriptions on the palace walls which are magical. On the full day tour you can walk around the summer palace of the Generalife and see the view from the Torre de Vela of the city down below.
The area opposite the Alhambra palace is the Albaicín. This is the medieval Moorish quarter overlooking the Red Castle. Moorish settlers populated the area in the 13th century when fleeing from the Catholics and this area was declared a World Heritage Site in 1984. Today it attracts visitors due to its quaint charm, narrow cobbled streets and whitewashed houses with beautifully decorated balconies with local pottery and colourful flowers. Head to the Mirador San Nicolas and see the wonderful view of the city below, the Sierra Nevada mountains in the background and in the foreground the Alhambra palace. This view is particularly good at sunset. My personal treat is to head to one of the typical Carmen restaurants found in the Albaicín. They boast the same view which you can enjoy while having dinner on their garden terraces.
The Sacromonte district is a picturesque area running up from the Albaicín into the hills and situated above the city itself. There are cave houses in this area, dwellings set into the hillside. It is the most typical place to see Flamenco, and the area is populated by gypsies. The Tablaos are all along this road. In Summer many Flamenco concerts are offered throughout the city, in the Generalife gardens, in Corrala de Carbon as well as in the Sacromonte. In winter my favourite Flamenco venue is La Chumbera.
Granada is known for the complementary tapas that the bars and restaurants offer with your drink. Try a few different places as tapas vary in quality, style and quantity. I recommend picking a place that is busy. If the locals are there, generally a good sign. If you have a sweet tooth don´t leave without trying the Piononos de Santa Fe. These little golden delicacies are a combination of sugar and cinnamon, and are bursting with flavour. They are from a village called Santa Fé although they can be found in cake shops throughout Granada and some restaurants serve them for dessert too.
In Granada the main Festivals are at Easter, and traditional processions pass through the streets every day throughout Easter week. The May Crosses (Cruces de Mayo) are celebrated on the first days in May, a special time in Granada with orange blossom on the trees and a springtime feel in the air. Crosses are set up covered in flowers around the city and villages in Granada province. In June we have the Fair of Corpus Christi where you can see people in traditional dress and horses. There is a large fairground set up near to the bus station in Granada as well as events in the city centre itself.
Granada also offers skiing at the nearby Sierra Nevada from the months of November through to end of April. When it’s mild you can ski and swim at the beach on the same day, as the drive is just 45 minutes from the slopes to the sand of the Costa Tropical.
These are the main attractions that the city offers but the real enjoyment of Granada is to lose yourself in the cobbled streets and just wander, taking in the history and atmosphere of the city.
Molly Sears-Piccavey was born in Nottingham, UK but has lived in Spain since 1998, initially in Barcelona but is now living in Granada, Andalusia.
Molly works in Communication, PR and Institutional Relations and in her spare time reads, tweets listens to Podcasts and Blogs. She speaks fluent Spanish and English along with some French and Catalán.