Over the peaks and on the north side of the Sierra Nevada is the ski resort and the city of Granada. This is an old city, unpolished and raw, whose picturesque decay tells of a time when Moorish kings once ruled here.
The Alhambra palace perches on a hilltop above the city. It rises from the cypress woods, against the magnificent backdrop of the jagged snow-capped Sierra Nevada. It was once an ornate and luxurious Moorish palace, and is like something out of a fairy tale. You can imagine the women of the harem, dressed in colourful veils, lounging in the lush gardens or napping in the shade of an elaborate Moorish archway, while the sultan listened to the trickle of water flowing in the fountains, whilst eating grapes and pomegranates, which, incidentally is what the word ‘granada’ means in Spanish.
Unfortunately, it is very popular with large tour groups, so for a tranquil visit, go out of season, or in the evening to be able to fully enjoy the magical atmosphere.
Tickets must be booked for a specific time slot and can be bought in advance online. For opening times and ticket prices see the ticket information page on the Alhambra website.
Down below, in the city itself, the Albayzin, or old Islamic quarter is a great place to just wander around the hilly streets and alleyways, stopping at the tapas bars along the way. In Granada province each bar offers free tapas with drinks, and each bar has its own speciality. You can practically eat a meal for free, just by going from bar to bar, sampling the different tapas on offer. http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2008/mar/13/granada.foodanddrink.tapas
From there you make your way up to the Sacromonte district, a mysterious gypsy neighbourhood high up on a hill, with spectacular views of the Alhambra and the Albayzin from the San Miguel Alto church square.
For information on staying at Casita Buena Vista go to www.alpujarraretreat.com
All words (c) Kerry Boettcher