Victor Hugo said that “Granada is the most precious treasure of Spain, a pantry of flavors, smells and passion”. So that nothing is missed, we recommend you have your senses on high alert and for the intense journey, wear comfortable shoes...
To begin, take a climb to the highest point of the city where you will find the “Crown Jewel” the Alhambra and the Generalife. Declared an Official World Heritage Site in 1984, it is named after the founder of the Nasrid dynasty and lover of the monument, King Al-Ahmar, known as “the red king”.
The best way to understand its current spectacular and famed state is through a review of the different cultures that have left their mark on what is now known as the world’s most famous Moorish palace, the Nasrid Palaces.
It was in the XIII century when the founder of the Nazari dynasty, Al-Ahmar, was captivated by the existing ruins on the hill of the Sabika (where the monument sits) and ordered that construction begin of a fortress that would become the new location of his court. Over time, the primitive fortress evolved into the defensive and palatial system we know today.
The Alhambra remained in Muslim hands until the XV century (January 2, 1492) taking of the city produced by the Catholic Monarchs and following the “Christianization” of not only the population but of the urban fabric from the city.
The work of conservation and care of the monument declined during the first decades of the eighteenth century, when King Felipe V disregarded the palace until the arrival of the reign of Charles IV. And it is in this new stage of custody when the greatest destruction caused by the Napoleonic occupation occurred. From this moment forward, the Alhambra became the home of passersby, vandals and travelers who decimated its wealth but also served to evoke the romantic, distant and exotic character which later inspired Washington Irving in drafting the famous “Tales of the Alhambra”.
In the twentieth century, interest in culture and heritage fostered interest in the protection and conservation of the Alhambra as the most representative monument of the city.
Spaces such as the Alcazaba, the tower of seven floors, the Nasrid Palaces and the Queen’s dressing room make the monument an exquisite composition of various styles, the fruit of an intense occupation over the centuries.
After a short walk you will reach a place designed for recreation and rest called the Generalife, or “Architect’s Garden”. Incredible gardens, which take advantage of the terrain itself, draw up these green spaces in which the leading role of the architecture in the Alhambra gives way to the most exquisite landscaping, which through terraces, flowerbeds, mazes and viewpoints will transport you to that time when the Arab architects treated water as an important design element, integrating it into the decoration of the gardens.
A real treat for the senses, whose walls tell stories about life at that time. And in its walls you may find inscriptions, romantic poems, fine carvings and handcrafted adornments.
It is advisable to book tickets in advance for the visit to the Alhambra, as all entries are assigned to a specific time slot.
To finish the first day visiting Granada, take the Realejo road, located at the foot of the Alhambra, which will take you to the Jewish neighbourhood, considered one of the prettiest and most charming in Granada. Just as the rest of the city, the cultural mix is evident in its streets. On the way to this neighbourhood are interesting stops such as El Carmen de los Martires, with one of the most romantic gardens in Granada, and El Cuarto Real de Santo Domingo, a palatial complex built in the thirteenth century and that represents the pinnacle of Nasrid art thanks to the spectacular, well preserved “qubba” inside and which is the predecessor of the magnificent rooms of the Nasrid Palaces of the Alhambra.
Once in the center of Realejo, terraces and bars are evidence of Granada’s atmosphere. In the center of this district is a large square, the Campo del Principe, presided over by the statue of Christ of Favors. If you would like to go deeper into this place be sure to visit the Church of Santo Domingo, the Convent of the Commanders of Santiago and the house of the Shots.