Thursday the day started foggy but the promised rain kept away however Friday afternoon the rain came down and indoor pursuits were best. So in that vain I decided to write about my trip to Granada. The trip from the coast up to Granada was spectacular. The motorway carved through the mountains which made for easy travelling. We arrived in Granada and found the campsite with amazing ease – Sat Nav’s and a technical genius helped of course. We stayed in a suburb of Granada called Zubia and quickly found the downside of Granada – its cold! Afternoon temperatures were around a chilly 10 oC even though the sun was shining. Apparently it is very hot in Summer and freezing cold in Winter with not a lot in between. One day its hot and Summer and around October/November time the weather changes rapidly and it becomes cold and Winter – more or less over night.
Granada has a great bus service which is just as well because taking a car into the city centre will be a nightmare. Roads start off wide and disappear into narrow lanes or open into squares packed with restaurants and bars with seemingly no way out for cars. The bus routes are planned out by dividing the city into circles meeting in the centre of Granada with buses travelling around each circle every 10 – 15 minutes making the city easy to get around on foot and public transport.
So why visit Granada. In 711 the Moors invaded the Iberian peninsula and occupied most of Portugal, Spain and some areas of Southern France. They came from Morocco and were of Arab and Berber descent and Muslim. They ruled parts of Spain for 800 years. They were slowly pushed out of Spain by the Christians. As they were forced out of Valencia and Andalucía they retreated to the area of Granada and it was here they left their legacy to Spain. The Moors were scholars and introduced many scientific ideas in areas including mathematics, astronomy, geography, chemistry, physics and philosophy. Education was available to all in Moorish Spain as compared to a 99% illiterate rate in Europe where even some kings could not read or write. The Moorish Kings lived in comfortable, light airy palaces whilst in Europe, at the same time, some kings were living in what amounts to a barn with a hole in the ceiling to let out the smoke from the fires. The Moorish cities of Cordoba, Cadiz, Seville and Granada were modern cities featuring many universities, paved streets and well lit streets long before any other European city could boast these aspects. Their buildings were well constructed and richly decorated – this is why Granada and all the cities previously mentioned are worth a visit.
The main attraction of Granada is the Alhambra Palace. It is Spain’s number one tourist attraction, a UNESCO world heritage site and well worth a trip. Its gardens and palaces are well preserved and quite spectacular. The number of visitors is limited so its best to buy the tickets, well in advance, on-line before you go. Payment is accepted via a credit card and the tickets are collected at the palace on the day by inserting the credit card into special ticket machines. Entrance to the palace and gardens costs 15 euros which includes a map plus extra for an audio guide available in most languages. You have to book a time to go into the Nasrid Palaces and make sure you queue at the correct time. The queue appears long but disappears quickly.
Alhambra Palace is a collection of palaces and gardens built to house the Moorish rulers and their royal households. Construction started on the Nasrid Palaces in 1238 by Muhammad I al-Ahmar and added to by other rulers over the Moorish occupation. After the Moors were driven out of Spain by Isabella Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon (the parents of Catherine of Aragon that married Henry VIII) the palaces went through major renovations, were altered and continued to be the royal household for some years.
Below is pictures of the gardens and the Garden palaces which the Moorish leaders used as summer houses or as places to go and relax. As the Gardens are high on the mountains there is always a spectacular view of Granada below.
and inside the Nasrid Palaces and the other surrounding palaces there is plenty of stunning architecture to be seen:
The palace is situated high above the town of Granada and can be accessed by walking a steep hill or riding the little train that goes around the Moorish part of Granada – Sacromonte and Albayzin, around the Cathedral and includes Alhambra Palace as part of its circular tour. It is a hop on, hop off with many stopping places along the way. Its a great way to become familiar with the old parts of Granada and costs 8 euros plus extra for an audio guide. Some of the streets of Granada are very narrow which is why the ‘little’ train is great, it gets you places difficult to access by bus or cars and saves those tired feet.
From the vantage point of the Palace there is a panoramic view of Granada below and the mighty Sierra Nevada Mountains above and the reason why our trip was so cold – snow capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada!
Hopefully I have given you a taste of Granada, I can’t wait to go to Cordoba.