GRANADA province is characterized by extreme variables in landscape and climate, so much so that it's possible to ski in the mountains and go diving in the sea in one day. Located in the eastern part of Andalucia the province has a coastal area with warm climate, extensive fertile Genil plains and the mountainous regions with a colder climate.
The city of GRANADA is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and has a unique history bestowed it with artistic grandeur embracing Moorish palaces and Christian renaissance treasures, as the last Moorish capital on the Iberian Peninsula it also holds great symbolic value. During three centuries a magnificent and rich Islamic culture flourished leaving Granada with architectural marvels of the caliber of the Alhambra, along with the Generalife and the Albaicin.
The ALHAMBRA, meaning “Red Castle”, began life as a fortress in the 9th century and was converted to the palace we see today by the Nasrids in the 13th and 14th centuries. It became a Christian court after the Reconquest by the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella. The buildings are an intoxicating combination of intricate murals, arches, windows, towers, halls, water features and patios. The Court of the Lions is the centerpiece of the Alhambra and a symbolic representation of paradise divided into four parts separated by rivulets meeting a central fountain.
“Do not cry like a woman for what you could not defend like a man” said the mother of Boabdil, Granada’s last Arabic sultan, as he wept after being forced from the Alhambra Palace in 1492, the year the Spanish Catholic Monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand re-conquered the city.
Granada is a city of history, myth and legend yet with a contemporary feel. The city is made for strolling and daydreaming with delights around every corner - the beauty of the parks, fountains and spacious gardens, and the amazing monuments. Today Granada is a trendy city with hip shops, eateries, clubs and bars. Most bars offer free tapas with each drink, and in the most sociable of traditions locals spend their lunchtime and evening calling into different bars sampling tapas along the way. By doing the same you will experience Granada’s heart and soul.
The magnificent CAPILLA REAL, the final resting place of the Catholic Monarchs, is in the cathedral. The SACROMONTE is where many of the dwellings, traditionally inhabited by gypsies, are carved out of the hill, and in some of the caves flamenco singing and dancing spectacles known as Zambras are staged. The ALBAICIN is dotted with ‘carmenes’, houses surrounded by gardens, small squares and hidden places, and gives off the air of peace and tranquility and is an unforgettable experience. An intriguing network of cobbled alleyways, Arabic baths, Cathedral and Royal Chapel and some of the most beautiful monuments, the ALCALCERIA, or bazaar is on the site of a former silk market.
The SIERRA NEVADA NATURAL PARK, Europe’s highest mountain range after the Alps, towers above, almost protecting, the city of Granada. The MULHACEN is the highest peak in the Iberian Peninsula at 3480 meters. A joy to visit at any time of the year, in the spring and summer you can hike over the hills and in the winter ski some of the finest slopes in Europe. There are a number of access routes, each opening onto scenery so breath-taking and spectacular you are literally spellbound.
The shepherds of the Sierra Nevada say "when there are storms in the Mediterranean the waters of the lagoon turn choppy and make sounds like the beating of waves against cliffs". They say their depth is unfathomable and that they run down to the sea. There are around 40 lagoons and small pools throughout the Sierra - "eyes of the sea" according to the legend quoted by writer GERALD BRENNAN.
The Sierra Nevada is truly imposing, magical and exciting place to spend many a day. From the top of the MULHACEN the view stretches as far as the eye can see and offers spectacular 360 degree vista that literally takes in half of Andalucia. To the north-west the urban sprawl of GRANADA is spread out like marbles emptied from a bag, while to the south the distant peaks of Morocco’s RIF MOUNTAINS were betrayed. The Mulhacen can be climbed in one day by taking the shuttle bus which runs as far as Mirador de Trevelez. If you have more time a two day trip means staying a night in the refuge at Poqueira and using the services of a qualified guide. The final ascent is the toughest part and takes around one hour, but the summit is worthwhile, a view truly fit for a King.
The village of PRADALLANO, at the base of the ski areas, has 84 kms of ski slopes with many bars, restaurants, hotels, shops - a great place to sit back in the sunshine and enjoy the mountain view whether skiing or not. There are 6 main ski areas, snowmobiling, night skiing, ice skating and dog sledging.
LAS ALPUJARRAS region is found on the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains where you will find small often isolated towns and villages that still seem to live in the past. The narrow streets make it difficult for cars to pass so the best way to explore these villages is on foot. The Moors inhabited the towns and villages of Las Alpujarras up to the beginning of the`17th century and left their imprint on their traditions and culture. There are some extremely picturesque villages like ORGIVIA and PAMPANEIRA, BUBION and CAPILERIA, and then onto the highest village TREVELEZ famous for the quality of cured ham. From Capileria a track leads northwards and after around one hour you reach the deserted village of CEBDILLA, built to house the workers who developed the hydro-electric installation at the upper end of the Poqueira Gorge.
In Western Granada the town of ALHAMA DE GRANADA was described by Theophile Gautier as "Hanging from an enormous rock or peak like an eagle's nest" and the town of ILLORA is known as "Granada's Darling”. White washed towns like MONTEFRIO,with its' beautiful castle lording over the town, nestle between rolling hills and rivers and preserve a rich and varied historical heritage. The Polygraph Ibn al-Jateb who was born in the city of Loja wrote in 1313 "My city has a smiling face, the aspect of a charmer and of beautiful women who cure the ills of the heart".
The town of SANTA FE was founded by the Catholic Monarchs in the 15th century as a military camp base for the invasion of Granada and has the most outstanding monument and the gateway to the city. It is here that the keys to the Kingdom of Granada were handed to the Catholics Monarchs.
Federico del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús GARCIA LORCA was born on 5th June 1898 in the small town of FUENTE VACQUEROS a few miles west of Granada. His father, Federico Garcia Rodriguex, was a landowner with a farm in the fertile vega surrounding Granada and a comfortable villa in the heart of the city. His mother Vicenta Lorca Romero was a teacher and gifted pianist. His family home is one of the most visited spots in the world. The village grew up around a fountain and used to be part of Solo de Romo, a Royal game preserve that the Cortes de Cadiz presented to the Duke of Wellington in perpetuity in recognition of his services during the War of Independence. Lorca wrote “ l had my first dream of remoteness in this village”.
The region covering BAZA and HUESCAR is known as THE ALTIPLANO, one of the unspoiled jewels of Andalucia. This contrasting district, set in the north west of the province of Granada has some impressive desert landscapes hemmed in by a ring of mountain ranges. BAZA preserves its Arab past with the Alcazaba fortress, the walls, bath and also the remains of the Jewish quarter. In BENAMAUREL and the surrounding villages the majority dwellings are cave houses and the area is reminiscent of Tolkein's Hobbit landscape.
The village of FREILA is steeped in ancient history and the natural surroundings are simply stunning. There are many beautifully sculptured houses honed from the hillside rock face and now provide surprisingly comfortable accommodation. Many have all mod cons and some are renovated to suit a simple but modern lifestyle. Advantage was taken of an inlet from the nearby LAKE NEGRATIN reservoir to construct the beach at CORTIJO DEL CURA. In this rural hillside village, you have the best of worlds, being able to enjoy sailing, swimming, canoeing, etc., without leaving the clear air and tranquillity of the mountainside. The incredible landscape offered by the Badlands can sometimes take on a distinctive surreal and romantic quality. The mystical reddish, desert tones are particularly striking around the time of sunset.
The small town of HUESCAR is known as "Cuidad de la Paz" (City of Peace). Its ancient traditions and folklore are kept alive and the rural lifestyle is that of the authentic Andalucian village. The natural surroundings are picturesque, with the stunning backdrop of mountain peaks and greenery. Just outside the town there is an outdoor fresh water pool where all the family can enjoy a swim.
Of all the villages that make up the Huescar and Baza regions of the Altiplano area, CORTES DE BAZA is arguably the most unspoiled of all. Its humble agricultural rural community and traditional way of life has remained intact despite modern advances and 21st century rural tourism. This idyllic natural paradise is where you will receive a warm welcome from the locals.
GUADIX, northeast of Granada is one of the oldest settlements in Spain. The landscape is marked by cave dwellings carved out of the hills. The cold, dry climate is home to the nature parks of the Sierra de Baza and Sierra de Castril.
The village of GALERA is situated in a green valley formed by two rivers that wind their way between the hills of a moon-like landscape. Within these hills lie the remains of ancient civilizations, archaeological digs have shown that it was populated more than a million years ago. Due to its verdant nature the village has become known as "The Oasis of the High Plateau".
This is just a sample of what the beautiful province of Granada has to offer. Come and see it for yourself and discover moe hidden gems and wonderful, hospitable people.