If you have been dreaming of a holiday in Spain this is the most enticing of Spanish cities. Everyone who visits this gem will also want to add some excursions to the many picturesque ancient villages that surround it, to their list of must-sees, and as it is not far from the sea it is a great place to visit in any season.
Granada is the provincial capital of the Andalucía region of Spain and sits at the foot of the Sierra Nevada’s beautiful rugged peaks, great for hiking and skiing. In addition to it, rich history Granada also offers more cultural interest than many of Spain’s other cities.
The exact derivation of the city’s name is not known but there are two theories. One is that it comes from the Spanish word for ‘pomegranate’ which flourish in Granada and can be seen on the city’s coat of arms. The other is that it comes from the Moorish name Karnattah (Gharnatah) which has the possible meaning “hill of strangers”.
Granada has its roots in ancient times. An Iberian settlement as far back as the 5th century BC, followed by the Romans and the Visigoths who, gave way to the Moors and finally, after the fall of Cordoba at the beginning of 1492, to the rule of the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand II and Isabella 1. However, Granada, with its large population of traders and artisans, was at its wealthiest and most splendid under the rule of emirs Yusuf 1 and Mohammed V in the 14th century AD.
Under the Christian monarchs Granada fell into decline, but in the 1830s the beginning of the Romantic Movement saw the restoring of its Islamic heritage and tourism began.
Granada’s old district is brim full of steep, narrow streets, and while the modern city, situated on the plains, is crisscrossed by 2 wide main thoroughfares; the Gran Via de Colón and the Calle de Los Reyes Católicos, its busiest streets surround the central Cathedral.
Granada’s garments are ancient Moorish villas surrounded by their own private gardens, their design expressing the Islamic idea of the inner paradise a reflection of heaven. These garments are to be found in the Albaicin (Albayzin) and there are a few that are open to tourists.
One of the most popular meeting places in the city is the hammam (public bathhouse) and there are literally hundreds of the city precincts but most notable is the El Bañuelo on Carrera del Darro. Dating back to the 11th century this bathhouse is a definite must on your list of Granada experiences.
Granada, because of its strong university affiliations has a vibrant and riotous nightlife, mainly student driven. The City is divided into barrios (quarters or neighbourhoods) and most of the young and riotous nightlife, which starts around midnights and continues through until it’s time for breakfast, can be found in the Centro, Albayzin and Realjo areas.
Today the economy of Andalusia is mostly based on tourism, so tourists are very important to the prosperity of the region and particularly to Granada. However, mutual respect is key to ensuring the best experience. It is good to remember that since the end of Franco’s rule the many changes the people of Spain have experienced, have sometimes been confusing and so don’t expect things to run as they do back home.
No matter what your interest whether it tends to toward the historical, artistic or architectural, whether you are a student or more on the mature side, there is much in this wonderful city for all who visit. From the city itself to its surrounding countryside, whether you are a summer or visitor, hiker, or gentle meanderer everything awaits you in Granada.