After our time in Valencia, my fellow assistants and I made our way down to Granada. First things first though. Despite the long 8 hour bus ride, we were able to enjoy a gorgeous view the entire way down of both the mountains and the Spanish countryside, 8 hours of constant beauty. Though a longer bus ride means less time in the city, I really value the time spent catching a glimpse of what the smaller parts of a country look like.
Granada was simply this: unlike any other city I’ve seen before. To be honest, I did not know much about Spain and its history before embarking on this two-week adventure, but I was eager to learn. In this, Granada was definitely not a disappointment. Tucked away in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, this city was nothing but breathtaking. I fell in love immediately, getting lost in the city streets near the Airbnb in which we were staying.
The quarter we stayed in is known as Albayzin, and it is the epitome of a picturesque Spanish village. Of course, it’s not a village. It’s just a neighborhood in the city, but it has the feel and the look of a village. The winding, cobblestone streets joined along with the beautifully colored and quaint homes allowed me a small taste of what southern Spanish culture looks like. Another plus of this neighborhood is its location. It rests on a hill that is not only beautiful in and of itself but has the most well known and most gorgeous view of La Alhambra, a beautiful piece of Moorish architecture that is the gem of the city.
Granada has a very rich Moorish history, and you can definitely see the influence it had on the culture. Firstly, La Alhambra is a prime example of its influence. This fortress and palace is a beautiful display of the warm and bright colors, arches, and tiles that exist in many southern Spanish architecture. Though it was later renovated, in some parts, after the Christian conquest, many of the previous features still exist.
The park surrounding La Alhambra is also a great place to see all of the beautiful plants and fountains that exist on the grounds. Unfortunately, this breathtaking palace is not free to go into, being around 14€, and with tickets being booked solid three months ahead of time, we, unfortunately, were not able to go into it. However, it is FREE to walk around parts of it and the park that surrounds it. Here, you can still catch a glimpse of the gardens, the fountains, the beautiful architecture, the tiles, and the cobblestone designs that exist around and on the outside of the palace. I’m sure that it is definitely worth the 14€ to go inside, but if you are thinking of putting this on your list, don’t forget to book your tickets well ahead of time. Also, don’t forget to check out the view from Albayzin either. From there you can get a complete panoramic view of the entire palace, which is definitely worth the long climb up into the hilly quarter, especially at night, when the palace is completely lit up.
If you are already walking around the La Alhambra, I would greatly advise you to continue walking up the mount so that you can see more and more of the city as you get higher and higher as well as provide you the opportunity to stumble upon a trail that will take you into the Sierra Nevada mountains themselves. If you love outdoor activities, I would highly recommend that you go hiking on this trail. I love mountains, and I love hiking. And I especially loved hiking through these mountains. Unfortunately, it was rainy and foggy the one day that we were actually in Granada, but we still decided to enjoy the nature that was so close to where we were staying. What I loved the most about these mountains, in addition to the amazing view of course, was the color of the mud and the rocks. Everything was various shades of reds and oranges, even the rocks themselves. It was beautiful. Maybe to some people this seems like a lame thing to appreciate, but when you aren’t used to seeing so many bold colors just within something as simple as mud, then you tend to really enjoy the view. Plus, hiking in these mountains was great exercise and a FREE activity to fill up our time. Plus, the fog gave the mountains a type of peaceful stillness that I greatly enjoyed.
We also made it a point to venture on the other hill across from La Alhambra, into the gypsy quarter that is on the outskirts of the city, Sacromonte. Even though it was a bit of a hike up the mount to this part of the city, it was well worth the view. This quarter consisted mostly of completely white homes surrounded by windy, tiny cobblestone streets, and tiled mosaics all over. One house that we stumbled upon even had tiled plates displayed on the outside. I’m sure this neighborhood is quite lively at night, for we saw a handful of bars and restaurants throughout. We even ventured into what appeared to be an abandoned convent at the very top of the hill on the edge of even Sacromonte itself, which lent itself to a complete over view of the city down below.
Lastly, we spent the rest of our time just exploring the city, its tiny streets up high and down below, admiring the quaint beauty, and the many various colors and types of architecture. This is what I loved most about the city. The buildings and the streets themselves tell the history of the city, the many different cultural influences it’s had along the way. The city itself tells its own story, and even though we only spent one full day here and even though it rained the entire time, it was still one of my favorite cities that we traveled through during our trip. I would go back in a heartbeat.
Plus, if all of those beautiful views weren’t enough to convince you, ending the day sipping on a drink overlooking the view of La Alhambra at night while a street performer plays traditional Spanish music should definitely give you that final push. That was the perfect way to end such a great day of discovery.