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Posts tagged ‘albaicin’

Granada Apartments with Parking

Although cars are generally not much help in getting around the picturesque narrow streets in the old centres of Spain’s historic cities, many people nowadays are choosing to visit several destinations on their vacations, spending a few nights in each place, and find that a car is essential for these journeys.

san jose 1San Jose 1

This is not without its problems. Many hotels and apartments, particularly in those neighbourhoods close to the sights and monuments, don’t have garage parking, or if they do there are only limited spaces available, or they are offsite, sometimes several streets away.

Veoapartment has just acquired two fantastic holiday rental apartments in Granada with their own private parking that combine the best of both worlds. Located in the old Moorish quarter of the Albaicín in a building with many traditional architectural features including a plant-filled central courtyard and balconies, the apartments have light, modern, uncluttered interiors with everything you could need for a comfortable stay.

san jose terraceSan Jose Terrace

San Jose 1 is a one bedroom duplex apartment for up to four people, and San Jose Terrace a two bedroom apartment for up to six. Both have fabulous views over the city to the cathedral and beyond.

Granada | What else to do in Granada

It’s been a long, wet winter, but at last Spring seems to be just around the corner. This is the best time to come to the south of Spain, and to one of its most popular destinations, the city of Granada at the foot of the Sierra Nevada.

You will of course be paying a visit to the Alhambra, the magnificent palace fortress of the Moorish kings, and to the Generalife (top tip – have a drink on the terrace of the Parador hotel looking across to the Generalife), but what are you going to do for the rest of your stay?

albaicin markets

First option is to make your way up through the Moroccan market into the Albaicin, the old Arab quarter of the city with its picturesque steep, narrow streets to the San Nicholas Mirador for a view across the valley of the River Darro to the Alhambra and the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada beyond. It’s also worth walking up the river valley from Plaza Nueva, the classic Spanish square in the heart of the city. It still looks like the mountain stream it was, but now with houses perched on its high banks below the steep hill of the Alhambra. Going further brings you into the Sacramonte neighbourhood, famous for its gypsy community, cave houses and flamenco night-life (nowadays mostly for tourists, but still an unmissable experience).

On the other side of the Alhambra is the old Jewish quarter of the Realejo, now a busy neighbourhood of bars and restaurants. Between the Realejo and the Alhambra you can find the Carmen de los Martires, one of Granada’s less well known gems. Carmenes (houses with walled gardens) are typical of Granada, and there are quite a few of them, often now functioning as hotels and restaurants rather than private houses, but Los Martires is the grandest, with several acres of gardens laid out around a 19th century country house.

carmen terraceview from our Carmen Terrace 2 apartment in Granada

At the foot of the Realejo, as you get back to the centre is the Corral del Carbón, originally built as a coal warehouse way back in the Moorish period, but adapted in the 16th century for theatrical performances (these courtyard theatres are roughly contemporary with Shakespeare and the birthplace of Spanish theatre). Pay your respects at the Royal Chapel and Cathedral, then take a walk along the Alcaicería, once the Moorish silk market, but now mainly little souvenir and artesan shops, but still with a Morroccan feel to it.

Behind the Cathedral is the Plaza Bib-Rambla, Granada’s largest public square, and an important commercial space since mediaeval times, and also the location of bullfights and autos-da-fé. Nowadays it has many cafés and restaurants in the colonnades around it, and in the centre is the Fountain of the Giants, added in the 19th century. From here, take a walk up through the Bib-Rambla neighbourhood to the San Jeronimo monastery. Built in the period following the Reconquista, it’s a calm and peaceful oasis with its two cloisters full of orange trees and magnificent altarpiece. It’s also the burial place of El Gran Capitán, Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, who led the Spanish forces that conquered Granada.

Finally, for something completely different, pay a visit to Granada’s famous science park. The interactive displays and exhibits are child-friendly and great fun as well as fascinating, dealing with everything from the birth of the universe to the diversity of life.

For more information about Granada, and some great holiday apartment rentals visit our website.

Granada Neighbourhoods

The ancient city of Granada in the South of Spain lies at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains to its east, and overlooking the fertile plain to its west, to which it owed its early prosperity. Between the eleventh century and its final conquest by the Christians in 1492 it was the most important Muslim city in Spain, and the layout of the central part of modern Granada, and the unique character of its principal neighbourhoods, still owes a lot to this period of its history.

View of the Alhambra from the San Nicolas Lookout

Granada’s most famous landmark, the Alhambra, dominates the city centre from its perch on a rocky outcrop above the deep, narrow valley of the River Darro. On the other side of the valley, on hills only a little less lofty than the Alhambra, are the neighbourhoods of the Albaicín and Sacramonte.

Where the river emerges from between the hills you can find the city’s central square, the Plaza Nueva, or New Square, so named because it was the first to be built by the Christians after the reconquest. Built over the River Darro, which runs in a culvert underneath, it’s a wide, pleasant square lined with shops and cafes, as well as the historic court house. To the south and east is the neighbourhood of Realejo-San Matias, and to the south and west that of el Centro.

Albaicín

Moroccan Market in the Albaicín

The Albaicín neighbourhood is one of the oldest parts of the city, and is made up of a network of steep, winding streets and small squares, many with wonderful views of the famous palace fortress, with the Sierra Nevada in the background beyond. Best known of the miradores, or lookouts, is San Nicolas, and it’s a great place to come in the evening for a drink, look across to the Alhambra, and if you’re lucky, to hear some Flamenco or Spanish guitar.

After the reconquest it became the Muslim quarter of the city, but with the expulsion or conversion of Muslims by the Catholic Kings it gradually became depopulated, and before long moneyed Christians began to move in, demolishing the small houses and building what became known as Carmenes or grand houses with gardens or orchards. The mosques were demolished and replaced with churches, although remnants of the original buildings can still be glimpsed, as in the Church of San Salvador. Another feature of muslim architecture that can still be found dotted around the area is the aljibes, underground cisterns built for the storage of water.

Today, there is a distinctly North African feel to the lower Albaicín with tearooms and small shops selling Moroccan goods. In 2003 the upper Albaicín became home to the Main Mosque of Granada, the first in the city since 1492.

The Albaicín is, above all, a neighbourhood for wandering slowly through narrow streets, taking pleasure in hidden corners and the scents from the many gardens; peeping into Carmenes; and enjoying the spectacular views from its terraces and miradores.

Sacramonte

Flamenco Caves in Sacromonte

Beyond the Albaicín is what is surely Granada’s most picturesque neighbourhood, the Sacramonte, named for the 17th century abbey at the top of the Valparaíso hill, which is well worth the trouble of a visit. It’s known as the gypsy neighbourhood, and is notable for the whitewashed cave houses built into the hill, and for being the best place in the city for Flamenco.

Realejo-San Matias

The Realejo is the old Jewish quarter of the city, and like the Albaicín on the other side of the Alhambra, has many steep, labyrinthine streets, with whitewashed houses and Carmenes. The most famous of these, the Carmen de los Martires, is open to the public and enjoys lovely views over the plains, the city and Sierra Nevada. Go up to the Campo del Principe for the bars and restaurants, and walk back down past the Casa de los Tiros, the Antigua Capitania and the Convent of the Mercadarias to San Matias street, another place with lots of places to eat and drink.

El Centro

To the southwest of Plaza Nueva is El Centro, the main commercial centre. Just off the Gran Via you can find the Cathedral and the Royal Chapel, both built in the 16th century as part of the process of Christianization of the city. Nearby is San Agustin, the main food market, and the Alcaicería, once the Arab silk market, but now mainly lined with souvenir shops. Behind these is the Plaza Bib-Rambla, a grand open square with a central fountain called the Gigantes, colonnades, bars and restaurants. Although it has undergone many changes, there has been a public space here since early Nasrid times, which has been used for markets, bullfights, fairs and autos-da-fé.

View from Granada Studio Terrace in the Plaza Nueva

Granada | The Sacromonte Caves

Across the valley of the River Darro from the Alhambra, and beyond the Albaicín, is the Granada neighbourhood of Sacromonte, named after the early 17th century abbey at the top of the hill. It is famous for the cave houses dug out of the soft chalky rock, which were built mainly in the 19th century by the Roma (Gitano) community. Many of the caves are still private dwellings, and the Roma are still the majority population, although the character of the area has started to change. Most of the caves now have electricity and running water, and some have become quite luxurious.

The Zambra flamenco (a local style of flamenco dance) shows that first attracted the attention of visitors still draw them today, and are still often performed by fire or candlelight with the spectators sitting in a ring around the performers. These are now supplemented by bars and restaurants with amazing views of the Alhambra.


For a really unique holiday experience you can rent a holiday apartment inside these spectacular cave houses. We now have two cave apartments available with all mod cons and furnishings (except air conditioning – the caves maintain an almost constant temperature throughout the year), adding a new dimension to our range of rental options.

Our Sacromonte Holiday Apartments

To get to Sacromonte by bus take route number 34 from the Gran Via.

Granada | Miradors in the Albaicín

[view from San Nicolás mirador]

If you’re in Granada, the main reason is probably that you’ve come to see the Alhambra. You may already have been inside the complex, wandered around the palaces and gardens, and climbed the towers of the fortifications, or you may still have that pleasure to come. Either way, it’s worth the effort of making your way up into the Albaicín, the old Moorish quarter of the city that faces the Alhambra across the deep, narrow valley of the River Darro, for a totally different point of view of this amazing fortress.
There are a number of miradors (lookout or vantage points) where you can get the best views, of which the best known is the Mirador San Nicholas. From here, you can see exactly why the fortress was considered impregnable. You can also see the the slightly-out-of-place Palace of Carlos V, and the tiny figures of myriad tourists on the walls and towers. Just below the mirador is a little terrace bar and restaurant called the Huerto de Juan Ranas, where you can enjoy the sight with a long, cool, if slightly pricey, drink. A bit further up, but with the advantage of being directly accessible by the little minibuses that serve the Albaicín, is the Mirador San Cristobal.

Walking up the hill into the Albaicín is quite strenuous, and the hillside faces south, so the best times to do it, especially in summer, are the early morning or the evening. But whenever you go, be sure to wear comfy shoes! You can find several good tapas bars on the way up. Our favourites are Mesón el Yunque in Plaza San Miguel Bajo and Bar Aliatar in the Plaza Aliatar. If you want to splash out then the Carmen Mirador de Aixa in Carril de San Agustín offers exquisite views and excellent food.

After dark the walls of the Alhambra are spectacularly lit up and it’s definitely worth going up a second time, though you may want to take a taxi back down afterwards rather than braving the steep narrow streets, which can be tricky to navigate even in daylight.