Granada & The Alhambra

Only 25 min away by car, you can discover Granada's historical architecture, wander through the flair of different cultures during the day and experience the vibrant & nocturne Granada surrounded by flamenco dancers, free tapas and or north african delicacies from their rich moreish past.

Granada is the soul of Andalusia, a place of breathtaking beauty at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This mystical city was the capital of a Moorish kingdom from the 13th until the 15th centuries. To the Moors, who arrived from North Africa, the lush setting of Granada was like heaven on earth. The Nasrid Dynasty reigned with a splendor unlike anywhere in the medieval world. The hilltop fortress of the Alhambra Palace was a paradise of greenery, rose gardens, and endlessly flowing fountains. After flourishing for centuries, Granada became the last bastion of the Moors in Spain when the Catholic Monarchs captured the city in 1492. Although now predominantly Christian, Granada has inherited rich Islamic, Jewish, and Gypsy influences.

The name Alhambra comes from an Arabic root which means "red or crimson castle", perhaps due to the hue of the towers and walls that surround the entire hill of La Sabica which by starlight is silver but by sunlight is transformed into gold. But there is another more poetic version, evoked by the Muslim analysts who speak of the construction of the Alhambra fortress "by the light of torches", the reflections of which gave the walls their particular coloration. Created originally for military purposes, the Alhambra was an "alcazaba" (fortress), an "alcázar" (palace) and a small "medina" (city), all in one. This triple character helps to explain many distinctive features of the monument.

Amid the beautiful medieval Islamic art and architecture, Granada's masterpiece of Baroque often goes unnoticed. For immersion into a fantasy of ornate carving and dazzling gold, step into the Basilica St. John Dios. Gold covers the intricate carvings on the ceiling, walls, and side-altars.

The Moors brought the ritual of the hammam (Arab Baths) from their homeland in North Africa to Andalusia, and Granada's 11th-century Bañuelo are among the oldest and best preserved in Spain. One of the few bath complexes not destroyed after the Reconquista by the Catholic monarchs, who considered the baths as immoral, is one of Granada's oldest surviving Moorish sites.

To discover the finest Renaissance church in Spain, visit Granada's Cathedral of Santa María de la Encarnación. The cathedral was built by Queen Isabella as a monument to the victory of Christian Spain over the Moors. It stands on the site of a former mosque. Begun in Gothic style in 1523 and continued in Plateresque style from 1525, the cathedral was consecrated in 1561 while still unfinished.

The Monasterio de la Cartuja, a serene 16th-century monastery is on the outskirts of Granada. It belonged to the Carthusian order which was founded in France in the 11th century. Behind the simple exterior and courtyard is a surprisingly opulent interior. The monastery's ornately decorated church is one of the most extravagant religious buildings in Spain.

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