About Granada & The Alhambra:
Almost unrivalled for beauty and architectural splendour, the entire city of Granada has been declared a national monument. It lies at the foot of Spain's mightiest massif, the Sierra Nevada.
At the heart of the city, on its hill, rises the imposing Alhambra - one of the world's most beautiful building complexes. Built between the 9th and 14th centuries as a fortress and administrative town, the series of palaces, fountains and gardens completed under the Nasrid Dynasty in the 14th century are justly renowned.
Old Moorish Traditions
On the opposing hill, facing the Alhambra is the original Moorish casbah called the Albaicin, a fascinating labyrinth of narrow streets and whitewashed houses with secluded inner gardens, known as 'cármenes'. The Plaza de San Nicolas, at the highest point of the Albaicin, is famous for its magnificent view of the Moorish palace.
Many of the city's beautiful squares, including Bib-Rambla and Campo del Principe were originally used for the Moorish lists - where noblemen jousted on their fine steeds. Later the Inquisition judged, and burned their victims at the stake in these same squares.
To the north of Bib-Rambla is a tightly-meshed grid of alleyways and shops, decorated with Moorish arches - the Alcaicería. This is a remnant of the Great Medieval Bazaar to which merchants once came from all over Islam and Christendom. It was famous for its silk, for which Caesar had given the Moors an exclusive licence. In gratitude they called all such bazaars Al-Caicería, or 'Caesar's Place'.
The local tradition of free tapas or snacks when you buy a drink began with practise of covering a beer with a slice of bread to keep flies off.
In time the tapas (literally meaning lid or cover) became more elaborate and delicious. However Granada is the only remaining corner of Spain where the tradition has been maintained and most tapas are still free.
Here is a list of some of the best known tapas bars in Granada to start you on your tapas tour...
Bodegas Casteneda, Calle Elvira and Calle Almireceros. Divided into 2 bars several years ago. The bar furthest away from Plaza Nueva still has the impressive original wine jars. Free tapas at the bar or you can pay for a selection. Their plato caliento selection at is excellent value (enough for 2 people).
Omkalthum, Calle Jardines. Stylish Moroccan tapas bar in the city centre - especially good are the pumpkin purée and chicken tagine.
Casa Torcuato, Calle Pages. Traditional Andalucian restaurant, historically a meeting point for the left-wing during the Franco rule. Now it is more famous for its fish dishes (try the trout with pistachio sauce) and after-dinner liqueurs.
Casa Juanillo, Camino del Monte. Typical Gypsy food (the Sacromonte omelette is a speciality), with spectacular views of the Alhambra from its terrace.
El Son, Calle Joaquin Costa. Late-night bar, latin music upstairs, a club downstairs at the weekend. The mojitos are as good as they get.
Bar Les Diamentes, Calle Navas. Les Diamentes is one of the few bars in the city to charge for tapas, but it is worth a visit. Try a racione de gamba.
How to Book Tickets for the Alhambra
The Alhambra is not one palace but a complex of palaces, fortress and gardens - the most famous and stunning of which is the intricately wrought Nasrid Palace. Due to the fragility of the Nasrid Palace, the number of daily visitors is limited, so in the high season it is advisable to book at least a day in advance.
The on-site ticket office only sells same-day entrances. However there are ways to buy advance tickets:
On the day of your visit it is essential to arrive at the ticket office at least 30 minutes ahead of the time of your entrance to the Nasrid Palace as it is a walk of about one kilometre between the gate and the palaces. If you miss your 30 minute arrival band for entry to the Nasrid Palace, you will probably not be allowed in! Tickets are Morning (9.00 -14.00), Afternoon 14.00 - 20.00 or Evening 22.00 - 23.30. The evening ticket is a magical alternative for viewing the Nasrid Palace but (unlike the daytime tickets does not allow you to see the Generalife or the Alcazaba.
There is nothing Andalucians love more than to celebrate. There is always a fiesta taking place somewhere in the region. Here are just a few of them...
January 2 'Toma'commemorates the conquest of Granada
by the Reyes Católicos (Catholic Monarchs) in 1492. Colourful processions.
The biggest celebrations of the year fall in April particularly during Semana Santa or Holy Week. This is a visual feast - the greatest of those outbursts of emotion, culture, religious feeling and sheer spectacle which punctuate the Spanish calendar. During this week - Easter Week - all of the major statues depicting the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary are removed from the churches and carried on their heavy and ornate silver and golden palanques, smothered with flowers and incense, through the streets.
This is a spectacle in itself as it can take twenty or thirty men to bear the immense weight of just one of these massive teetering edifices. Every town and village has its processions (including Albuñuelas) but the celebrations in Granada are considered some of the finest. Good days to see the processions in Granada are -
Or contact the local Granada tourist office for routes and times: Corral de Carbon - Tel: +34 958 22 59 90