The snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains provide a beautiful backdrop to Granada, one of the greenest places in Andalusia. In this city more than anywhere, there is a unique feeling of being connected to the Moorish past, as it was the last remaining Moorish stronghold in Andalusia.
Did you know? Granada is the Spanish word for pomegranate, and the fruit appears on the city’s coat of arms.
Often admired for its dazzling beauty, the Alhambra is rated highly amongst tourist attractions in the whole of Andalusia and is the only surviving large medieval Islamic Palace. It takes its name from the Arabic al-quala’at al-hambra meaning ‘red castle‘. In 1870 it was declared a national monument as a result of attention from Romantic authors such as Washington Irving, who wrote the Tales of the Alhambra , taking inspiration from his time living in Granada.
The designers are praised for their ingenous combination of nature and architecture to create such an idyllic palace.
Some parts are open free to visitors at all hours and others are restricted to ticket-holders.
Granada is home to several markets, some seasonal and some which are open all year round.
The popular Mercado San Agustín is a vibrant food market, selling fruit and veg, meat, fish, olive, oils, cheeses, and wines. Besides this, you can graze on tapas and other snacks from some of the stalls whilst you browse.
Where the Alcaiceria market is now situated used to be Grand Bazaar, selling herbs and spices from North Africa, as well as Arabic silks and pottery. The tradition of having Grand Bazaars was one of the few which survived from the Moorish times into the Christian occupation of Spain. Nowadays, the market still sells spice, herbs and herbal teas.
Did you know? – The original Bazaar at the site of the Alcaiceria survived until it burned down in a fire which started in a matchstick factory!
Seasonal markets include; the arts and crafts fairs which take place every couple of months in the squares of Plaza Romanilla and Paseo de los Tristes, selling works of photography, painting, jewellery and more by innovative Granadan artists and the Medieval Market which usually takes place during a limited period in the summer.
At the foot of the Alhambra are the Arabic baths – los Baños Árabes El Bañuelo. Built around the 11th Century, they show the refinement of the society of Arabic Spaniards who lived here. There are few such public Arab baths left due to the fact that they were destroyed by the Christians who claimed this territory after the Moors. Of those remaining, El Bañuelo is considered the most important and best-preserved.
One of its most impressive features are the star-shaped skylights which illuminate it. Visiting this site will make the students feel closer to history – the fact that it is so well-preserved makes it easier to imagine more vividly the Moorish times in which it was originally used.
Journey time to Granada: 3.5 hours by coach.