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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.

Alhambra Palace in Granada

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'.

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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.

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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:

  1. Use the advance booking website. You will be given a time-band for viewing the Nasrid Palaces and a code number to present at the Alhambra ticket office on the day. However, you can collect your tickets from the automatic machines at the far end of the ticketing building using the credit card that you used to purchase your tickets online.
  2. You can also collect them at the ServiCaixa terminals of la Caixa banks.
  3. Use the telephone booking line - 00 34 902 888 001(English speakers available). As with website bookings you will be given a time band and a code number.

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.

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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.
February 1st - Festival of San Cecilio. Alhama de Granada
March (Easter Week) - Semana Santa. Spectacular processions everywhere (SEE BELOW)
April 25 -Atar el Santo (tie the Saint) in Loja.
3rd May - May Crosses. Everywhere filled with crosses adorned with flowers.
June - Corpus Christi. Granada stages wonderful processions, street dancing and bullfighting.
Around August 15th - a week long fiesta in Albuñuelas - with marching bands, processions, parties and fireworks! Penultimate Sunday in August-Moors and Christians in the Alpujarran village of Bubion.
Last Sunday in September - Day of the Virgin - Granada. A wonderful procession winds through the streets.
September 29 - Romeria in Granada. Pilgrimage through the streets of the Albaicín (old quarter).
October 5 in the Alpujarra village of Cádiar, a wine fountain flows through the festivities!
December - Festivities take place throughout Spain to see out the old year and welcome in the new.

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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 -
Wednesday - Gypsy Procession
Thursday - Silent Procession

Further information on Semana Santa routes and processions

Or contact the local Granada tourist office for routes and times: Corral de Carbon - Tel: +34 958 22 59 90