Sprawling on the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Spain lays the medieval and Moorish architectural city of Granada. Granada is home to a spectacularly vibrant city life and friendly residents. Within its boundaries lay the UNESCO World Heritage site and lavish hilltop fortresses of Alhambra; which boasts serene patios, royal palaces, the Generalife orchards and gardens, and embracing views.
My wife and I stumbled up Granada during a trek through Spain and Portugal. We had a travel itinerary of Barcelona, Tarragona, Cartagena, Seville, Lisbon, Porto, and the Silver Coast of Portugal. However, our Cartagena stay was cut short by the extreme pollution in that city. Not knowing where to use our extra time, a Spanish friend living in Vila-Seca Spain told us to visit Granada. So, to Granada, we ventured. As we approached the city and descended from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, I was unimpressed with the flat and ordinary topography of the city-town. However, that initial impression was quickly and emphatically ousted.
The vivacious cityscape and rich Moorish history of this Spanish city immediately made us a believer. In the town, it is hard to miss the numerous cathedrals and many beautiful architectural sites. However, the energetic, safe, and fun-filled city is what captured our hearts. The town lives an almost carnival-like atmosphere full of happy and content residents, tourists, and street performers. The mystical Moorish heritage was evident as we meandered through tight and winding passageways of restaurants and tiny shops selling teas, fruits, and trinkets. It was an unforgettable experience to walk through a section of town with a North African market feel only to “pop out” of these alleyways into a thriving and modern cityscape. We even walked in the lively city nightlife, under the moonlight, and unencumbered.
Nightlife in Granada is vibrant, thanks to the growing student population. However, if you prefer some peace, the traditional tea rooms are the perfect venue. Here, you can enjoy unique teas as you admire the feisty cosmopolitan Granada life. If that is not your thing, visit the old-school bars that sell tapas and watch the Arabic youth live their student life.
Rising above the modern lower town of Granada, on a rocky hill, on the banks of the River Darro, protected by mountains, and surrounded by woods is the medieval palace fortress of Alhambra. From what I understand (will explain later) visiting the spectacularly beautiful Alhambra is a once in a lifetime pilgrimage. It is a mecca, a focal point, a magnet for the entire region. It has grand archways, delicate ornamental mosaics, copious gardens, and a rich heritage. Sadly, my wife and I did not get to see the interior of Alhambra. As I mentioned earlier, visiting the city was an afterthought, and we were completely unfamiliar with the region’s beautiful attraction. Nevertheless, we decided to rise very early in the morning we were scheduled to leave for Seville and buy tickets to Alhambra. I waited in line for about 30 minutes and was only four people away from paying for our tickets when they sold out. Suffice to say I was devastated. Lesson learned. However, this just means that we must make another trip to a city which quickly became one of my top five favorite cities in all of Europe.