Monday, 9 April 2012



Granada is a city and the capital of the province of Granada, in the autonomous community of Andalucia, Spain. Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, at the confluence of three rivers, the Beiro, the Darro and the Genil. It sits at an elevation of 738 metres above sea level, yet is only one hour from the Mediterranean coast, the Costa Tropical.

The region surrounding Granada has been populated by Iberians from at least the 8th century B.C. The region has furthermore experienced Phoenician, Greek, Punic, Roman and Visigothic influences. The Iberians called the wide region Ilturir. On the the site of present day Granada there seems to have existed a Roman settlement, but no definitive proof has been found. Some 20 miles south of present day Granada, the Romans built Illiberis, a city which minted its own coins. 

The actual founding of present day Granada took place in the 11th century, during a civil war that ended the Caliphate in the early 11th century. In the aftermath of these wars, the North African general Ziri ibn Manad established an independent kingdom for himself, with Elvira as its capital. 
Because the city was situated on a low plain and thus difficult to protect from attacks, the Zirid ruler decided to transfer his residence to the higher situated Jewish hamlet Gárnata. 
In a short time the Jewish village was transformed into one of the most important cities of Al-Andalus. In 1066 a Muslim mob crucified the Jewish vizier of the Zirids, Joseph ibn Naghrela, and massacred about 4,000 Jews.  By the end of the 11th century, the city had spread across the Darro to reach the hill of the future Alhambra.

The Court of Lions
Granada is the city of Poet García Lorca, a city "open all year round". No matter when one chooses to visit, there are always activities to enjoy. Among the most well-known events you can finde: The Music and Dance International Festival, the Jazz Festival, the Magic Festival Hocus Pocus, the Tango Festival, besides the complete cultural programme of the city. Among its most important fiestas we can find the Holy Week, declared as "Feast of International Tourist Interest", the Corpus Christi or the Día de la Cruz (May Cross Day)

The gastronomy of Granada and Andalusia is rich and diverse. There is no doubt that it is on its own a reason to visit the city. Granada has a large number of restaurants and bars where one can taste succulent dishes, among we can find: migas, remojón, habas con jamón (beans and ham), Sacromonte omelet, gazpacho.

The bars of Granada are well-known for their free tapas - all you have to do is order a drink and they will bring you a tasty morsel. Many of the bars also have offers on for a caña (small glass of draught beer) and tapas for €1.50 or €2. Just ask when you arrive, or check out their specials board before you enter. The most famous areas for tapas are Plaza Nueva, and also in Plaza Bib-Rambla (next to the cathedral) where in the summer months there is the option to sit outside, within the square - both squares are lively and popular areas, right in the heart of the city.

Drinks other than the selected offers can be expensive here, due to the location, but you get the added bonus of a view of some famous monuments plus a great atmosphere - coupled with table service and the option of ordering some nibbles if you get hungry later on. In and around Plaza Bib-Rambla you can also do some late-night shopping as many the shops stay open well into the evening. Just off the Plaza Nueva is the Calle Elvira, one of the busiest streets in the city for bars and pubs. This area is at its liveliest during the summer season.

One of the streets leading off Calle Elvira is Calle Calderia Nueva, a street known as La Calle de Las Teterias (The Street of the Tea Rooms). This whole street is lined with Moroccan tea rooms - ideal if your perfect evening is a few quiet drinks (or a nice brew) in a chilled-out place lined with candles and incense, and sofas, beanbags, or floor cushions to sit on.

The best part of the nightlife in Granada is that, if you get hungry on the way home, the streets are filled with take away restaurants offering delicious Moroccan kebabs and pitas.

Granada Cathedral

                                                        Granada’s Top 5:
  1. The Alhambra.  Is a palace and fortress complex. It was constructed during the mid 14th century by the Moorish rulers of the Emirate of Granada in al-Andalus, occupying the top of the hill of the Assabica on the southeastern border of the city.
    The Alhambra's Moorish palaces were built for the last Muslim Emirs in Spain and its court, of the Nasrid dynasty. After the Reconquista (reconquest) by the Reyes Católicos ("Catholic Monarchs") in 1492, some portions were used by the Christian rulers. The Palace of Charles V, built by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor in 1527, was inserted in the Alhambra within the Nasrid fortifications. After being allowed to fall into disrepair for centuries, the Alhambra was "discovered" in the 19th century by European scholars and travelers, with restorations commencing. It is now one of Spain's major tourist attractions, exhibiting the country's most significant and well known Islamic architecture, together with 16th-century and later Christian building and garden interventions. The Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the inspiration for many songs and stories.
  2. Granada Cathedral.  Unlike most cathedrals in Spain, construction of this cathedral had to await the acquisition of the Nasrid kingdom of Granada from its Muslim rulers in 1492; while its very early plans had Gothic designs, such as are evident in the Royal Chapel of Granada by Enrique Egas, the construction of the church in the main occurred at a time when Spanish Renaissance designs were supplanting the Gothic regnant in Spanish architecture of prior centuries. Foundations for the church were laid by the architect Egas starting from 1518 to 1523 atop the site of the city's main mosque; by 1529, Egas was replaced by Diego de Siloé who labored for nearly four decades on the structure from ground to cornice, planning the triforium and five naves instead of the usual three. Most unusually, he created a circular capilla mayor rather than a semicircular apse, perhaps inspired by Italian ideas for circular 'perfect buildings' (eg in Alberti's works). Within its structure the cathedral combines other orders of architecture. It took 181 years for the cathedral to be built.
  3. The Generalife is a garden area attached to the Alhambra which became a place of recreation and rest for the Granadan Muslim kings when they wanted to flee the tedium of official life in the Palace. It occupies the slopes of the hill Cerro del Sol above the ravines of the Genil and the Darro and is visible from vantage points throughout the city. It was conceived as a rural village, consisting of landscaping, gardens and architecture. The palace and gardens were built during the reign of Muhammad III (1302–1309) and redecorated shortly after by Abu I-Walid Isma'il (1313–1324). It is of the Islamic Nasrid style, and is today one of the biggest attractions in the city of Granada. The Generalife was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984.
  4. The Arab Baths are one of the most important historic and architectural aspects of Granada, as they are symbolic evidence of the city's religious turmoil all those centuries ago. The baths were built by the Muslims because they believed water was a symbol of purity, and so used it to cleanse their bodies, whilst the Christians, on the other hand, believed this to be decadent and heathen behaviour, and so had the majority destroyed, with only a 'few left remaining. It's easy to forget how important the baths were in Moorish life: they were a key focal point for social activity, second only to the mosque. They help to give us a glimpse into day-to-day life in Arab-era Granada.
  5. The Royal Chapel.  is a mausoleum which houses the remains of the Catholic Monarchs: Queen Isabella I (1451–1504), King Ferdinand II (1452–1516), Their daughter Queen Juana I of Castile, León, and Aragon (1479-1555), Her husband Philip I, Philip the Handsome(1478-1506) and their oldest grandson Miguel da Paz, Prince of Asturias (1498–1500). There are relics, portraits, tapestries, ornaments, Baroque sculptures and paintings on display in the Sacristy Museum. The works are predominantly by Flemish, Italian and Spanish painters of the 15th Century, including pieces by Rogier van der Weyden, Botticelli, Perugino and Bartolomé Bermejo. The chapel was constructed between 1505 and 1517 in the Gothic style and dedicated to St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist. Queen Isabella's, King Ferdinand's, Infante Miguel's, and Philip I's remains were not taken there until 1521.

    Detail of the Royal Chapel

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