Granada is a great area and probably one of my favourite destinations at the foot of the northeastern slope of the Sierra Nevada. Granada sits on three hills that slope into a valley where the Hanil River and it's tributary Darro flow steadily.
It has been suggested that the name "Granada" was taken from the open pomegranate shape formed by the hills around the city. Surprisingly, the city's historic structures, sizzling neighbourhoods, and stunning scenery complement one another. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that Granada is consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Hundreds of thousands of visitors go there yearly to see the unique fusion of ancient and modern architecture, culture, and scenery.
The history of Granada goes back to ancient times. Back in the 5th century. BC NS. this area, inhabited by Iberian tribes, was quite famous. Then, during the domination of the Roman Empire, the prosperous city of Iliberis was founded here, which included the village of Granata (Granada).
The Arabs immediately began an extensive restoration of the city once they took it over. Massive fortifications stood on both sides of the Darro River.
The fast expansion of Granada's economy coincided with political instability in the Cordoba Caliphate. During this time, Muslims from nearby locations like Valencia, Cordoba, and Seville began to settle in substantial numbers. As a result, Muslims founded a separate government in Granada around the year 1003.
In 1238, a Nasrid called Muhammad ibn Al Ahmar led an insurrection that toppled the Almond dynasty. He unified the southern Mediterranean coast from the Pillars of Hercules to Almeria into the Granada Emirate. The emirate's golden age coincided with his rule.
After their empire broke up, the Spanish started making the Americas into colonies again. The emirate of Granada lasted until the late 15th century because its leaders planned ahead, and the city's location kept it relatively isolated from the rest of the world. Arabs ran the town until the Spanish came and took it over on January 2, 1492.
Arab influences may still be seen in modern-day Granada. The Alhambra, sometimes called La Alhambra, is a stunning Arab palace surrounded by a massive wall (more than two kilometres in length) and multiple towers (called turrets) that date back to medieval times. The five pillars of Islam are depicted by hand on the Gate of Justice, the palace's principal entrance.
At the beginning of the 1300s, work on the walls around the Alhambra began. Arab monarchs built palaces, but only Muhammad V's Lviv terrace, also called the Patio de Los Leones, and Yusuf I's myrtle courtyard remain today (Patio de Los Arrayanes).
Experience the Beauty of Granada: From the Cathedral to the Generalife, These are the Top Attractions You Can't-Miss and You Can Book Now!:
- Alhambra: Nasrid Palaces & Generalife Ticket with Audioguide
- Granada: Hammam Al Ándalus with Optional Massage
- Granada: Los Cahorros de Monachil Canyon Hiking Tour
- Granada: 3-Hour Cathedral and Royal Chapel Tour
- Granada City Train 1 or 2-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Ticket
- Granada: Albaicin and Sacromonte Segway Tour
- Granada: Albaicin and Sacromonte Electric Bike Tour
In the architecture of this city-palace, Muslim and Christian cultures have surprisingly intertwined, creating an extraordinary palace that amazes with its richness and elegance of architectural forms and decor, which today is considered the pearl of Andalusia.
Adjacent to the palace is the Santa Maria de La Alhambra church, also built in the 16th century and widely considered one of the period's finest examples of religious architecture.
Not far from the Alhambra complex are two more notable Granada attractions: the Generalife (El Generalife), the Sultan's summer house noted for the beauty of its gardens with exquisite fountains, and the Palace of Charles V, built in the Renaissance style in 1526. This edifice took up a significant portion of the Alhambra land but was never completed. The National Museum of Hispanic Muslim Art and Fine Arts is now housed in the palace.
The Cathedral of Granada (Catedral de Granada) is a famous building with historical and architectural significance. Catholic Spain's triumph against Arab invaders prompted its construction to begin in 1523. This Cathedral, the first religious building in the nation to be designed in the Renaissance style, became the template for subsequent religious structures across Andalusia. The Royal Chapel, or Capilla Real, was constructed nearby much before the Cathedral itself. There, you'll find the tombs of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon.
Granada stages several events throughout the year, but the International Music and Dance Festival (often held in June or July) stand out. Once held at the Alhambra and Generalife palaces, this festival has now been relocated.
The International Theater Festival and the Granada Jazz Festival take place in the city throughout the fall and winter seasons. The people of Granada also honour their city's patron saint on Saint Cecilio's Day and other religious holidays like the Day of the Cross and Holy Week.
If you want to taste authentic Andalusian cuisine, then be sure to visit Granada - the Muslim kingdom in Spain. The times of Arab domination significantly influenced the culinary preferences of local residents, exquisitely complementing traditional Mediterranean cuisine.
La Finca, located in the heart of Granada, is renowned for its exquisitely cooked Mediterranean specialities and local wines. Indulge in some authentic Spanish and Andalusian fare at El Cortijo. El Mirador, an outdoor bar and restaurant, serve authentic regional fare heavy on a wide range of fish.