The city of Granada has always been a popular tourist destination for Europeans. With its mild climate and beautiful historical buildings, it’s no wonder many people come to visit Granada. LeafCanoer, nikkistewart, recently posted about her trip to Granada in her leaf title, “Granada in Southern Spain.” Like many visitors before her, she was captivated by the beauty of the city’s architecture, and the abundance of activities to do in and around the city. For those wanting to see the sights for themselves, here are six ways to explore the city when you visit Granada.
Granada was once controlled by the Moors, a nomadic people from Northern Africa, of Arab and Berber descent. They came to the area in the 700s, and at one time ruled Spain, Portugal and parts of southern France. Their power began to decline in the 13th and 14th centuries, and by the 1600s, they were completely expelled from the area. Although the Moors no longer dominate the city of Granada, their architecture still live on in many of the city’s historical buildings.
The beauty of Alhambra
One of the most popular and well known buildings featuring Moorish architecture is Alhambra, a palace and fortress complex located in Granada. Originally built as a fortress in the late 9th century, Alhambra was renovated and rebuilt into a palace in the 13th and 14th centuries. Now, the palace is considered a UNESCO World Heritage site and is visited by over 2 million visitors a year, making it one of the most visited sites in Spain. There are four groups of buildings within the Alhambra complex: Alcazaba (the oldest part of the fortress), the Nasrid Palaces (the most elaborately designed part of the complex), the Palace of Charles V (the newest portion of the complex, built for the Spanish emperor in the 16th century), and Generalife (the garden portion of the complex). Tickets are needed to visit the site, and tourists can choose among a daytime visit, a garden visit, or an evening visit.
Moorish architecture and Alhambra are not the only reasons to visit Granada. The city is also well known for a number of beautiful and magnificent cathedrals. One of the most visited is the Granada Cathedral, which was built in the 15th century, after the departure of the Moors. The architecture of the cathedral features Gothic and Spanish Renaissance design. The cathedral is still in use, and is the current seat of the Archdiocese of Granada.
Proximity to the Sierra Nevada
For the outdoor enthusiast, Granada offers a quick trip to the Sierra Nevada mountains, as the city is situated right at its base. Skiing is a popular activity at the Sierra Nevada. In fact, the mountains are one of the popular skiing destinations in Europe, with over 40 kilometers of skiable area. In the summer months, visitors to the Sierra Nevada can hike, trek, camp, and even horseback ride through the mountains.
Unique shopping experiences
Granada is also known for its flea markets. There are at least four flea markets in the city, happening on various days during the week. The Plaza Large flea market in the Albaicin neighborhood runs every day. On Wednesdays, the La Chana district holds a flea market, and on Saturdays, the city’s most densely populated district, Zaidin, also hosts a flea market. The Cartuja flea market is also a popular one for shopping, held on Sunday mornings in Almanjayar.
Muslim influences with a European twist
If shopping is not your cup of tea, the final reason to visit Granada is to admire the neighborhoods. Many neighborhoods and sights in Granada have been influenced by the Muslims who once lived in the city. One neighborhood worth visiting is Albayzin, one of the former Muslim quarters in Granada. Parte Vieja, also known as the Old Quarter, is also worth visiting, as this was once the commercial center of the city. Additionally, the Realjo district is worth a stroll as it offers a wide selection of bars, cafes, and tapas bars.
There are many reasons to visit Granada, and it certainly is one of the not-to-miss destinations of Europe. For more ideas on what to see and do in Granada, as well as other places around the world, download the LeafCanoe app.