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.
It is here that the Moorish sultan discovered an affair between his favourite concubine and one of his courtiers. The lovers were parted and the courtier (along with his entire family) were executed. Some guests of the Parador have sworn they hear the ghost of the love-struck courtier still roaming the palace and grounds on still, moonlit nights.
“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 is the cold, mysterious waters of the Vacares lagoon, enchanted Camarate woodland, the IBEX silhouetted against a vermilion sky, the magical tinkling of the Chorreras Negras during the thaw. The bright green of early Summer "borreguiles" (wet grassland), the almost perennial snowfields of Corral del Veleta, the Summer song of the golden oriole, the Autumn hues of the Guarnon oak woods, the view from the ALHAMBRA PALACE, this is the and much, much, more.
The SIERRA NEVADA is the cold, mysterious waters of the Vacares lagoon, enchanted Camarate woodland, the IBEX silhouetted against a vermilion sky, the magical tinkling of the Chorreras Negras during the thaw. The bright green of early Summer "borreguiles" (wet grassland), the almost perennial snowfields of Corral del Veleta, the Summer song of the golden oriole, the Autumn hues of the Guarnon oak woods, the view from the ALHAMBRA PALACE, this is the SIERRA NEVADA and much, much, more.
The Sierra Nevada district is located next to the districts of Alpujarra and El Marquesado del Zenete. The Sierrs Nevada National Park covers over 8,600,000 sq m and has a number of access routes, each opening onto scenery so breath-taking and spectacular you are literally spell bound. The Sierra Nevada is a truly imposing, magical and exciting place to spend many a day. 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.
It is a natural alpine paradise in the heart of Andalucía with mild summers and cold winters. Between its snow-covered peaks, its rivers and forests, there are many charming villages tucked away between the monumental city of Granada and the imposing mountain ranges of the Sierra Nevada.
In Xolair, in the sierra we now know as Sierra Nevada there is a peak towering over all the other mountains. This peak is called the MULHACEN and it’s the highest peak mountain in the Iberian Peninsula at 3480 meters, from the top 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.
There are many legends about the mystical Sierra Nevada.
Every year since 1912, the pilgrimage of the Virgen de las Nieves in Trevélez takes places. The locals climb to the top of the Mulhacen, where a Mass is held at midday on 5th August. This tradition came about because of the miracle of the Virgin Mary that took place in 1717. It is said that councillor of Válor prayed for the town to be protected from the raging storm. Apparently the clouds suddenly dissolved making way for a sea of light in which he saw the Holy Virgin with her arms extended. Since then, over the centuries, many miracles have occurred here, and it is widely believed that the Virgin offers special protection to all people who live in the Sierra Nevada.
The penultimate Muslim King of Granada in the 15th century, Abu l-Hasan (Muley Hacen), was married to Queen Aixa, with whom he had a son, who was called Boabdil. The King fell in love with Zoraya, one of the Christian slave girls who worked in the Alhambra. Jealous of their love, Queen Aixa incited her son to join his father’s worst enemies and to take his throne. This lead to a fight over the throne of the Alhambra which lasted until the day the Christian Kings reconquered the kingdom.
According to the legend, Muley Hacén retired to live in a hidden Alcazaba in Xolair, todays Sierra Nevada. There he lived his last years together with Zoraya and their children, in the Alcazaba of Mondújar, a village located in the beautiful Valley of Lecrín. It is told that he was always sad, spending his days locked up in the highest tower of the Alcazaba, staring at the sky and the only thing that could calm his mind and ease his pain were the stories that Zoraya told him about this place.
When his end was near, he asked Zoraya to bury him where no one would ever find him. She did as he wished and buried Muley Hacén in the snow of the highest mountain. And since then the peak is called after the great Moorish King.
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 MONO CARETO, has many different versions of the story, could be a monkey or a fairy being. However, given its name the face should be its most distinctive feature. The Mono Careto is the sublimation of one trait of Granada such as “la malafollá granaína”, an apparent bad mood that leads you to being rude to other people. People say that Mono Caretos are evil. Snow avalanches to bury mountaineers, cutting climbers’ ropes or throwing rocks. This is how Mono Careto punish those who expect to get to Sierra Nevada without being intimidated. Anyway, the reason for these creatures to exist in the literature of Andalucia, is to warn everybody that the mountain is a place where you can have a lot of fun, but you have to be careful. It’s a hostile place that you have to get to know well before doing certain activities.
Granada is the birthplace of lots of oral legends, but it goes far beyond the limits of the Alhambra and its contours. Among these legends there’s one that is known as “the Devil’s Broom”. This legend says that once upon a time the daughter of a rich man of the Alpujarra was promised to a lieutenant. This lord was rich but he was rough and cruel. He didn’t know that she was already in love with a local shepherd. When the shepherd heard of her father’s agreement, he decided to run away with her. Even though he feared the cruel man may kill them.
As night fell, the shepherd set out to meet up with his lover. Along the way to her house, a man who said he was the devil offered his help. He gave him a magic broom. He said that this broom brushed away the snow magically. He took the broom and they both fled to the Sierra Nevada Mountains up to the Pico Alcazaba. The magic broom brushed away the snow aiding their path to their hiding place. But when they had almost reached the top, the movement of the broom caused movement in the deep snow. This created a powerful avalanche and they were buried amongst the deep snow.
The broom remained there up near the top of the Pico Alcazaba. Some say that it continues to cause avalanches even today.
PRADOLLANO is the main resort town, there are numerous hotels and shops and plenty of resort facilities for the apres ski such as restaurants, pubs and bars. With virtually guaranteed sunshine, and the best spring snow conditions in Europe, the ski season is relatively long. Traditionally the season starts around the end of November and runs through to the end of April or even into the first week of May.
Attracting skiers of every level, from complete beginners to experienced professionals, the slopes have numerous green and blue pistes for novice to intermediate skiers and some challenging red and black runs for the intermediate to advanced skier.
Snow boarders are well catered for at the Sulayr Superpark in Montebajo, the exciting terrain is aimed at snowboarding and freestyle enthusiasts, both novice and expert, offering an outstanding stage to practise and perfect the athletic feats.
The Mirlo Blanco recreational area is an amusement park for enjoying the snow in different ways, guaranteeing fun for all the family. The attractions include an ecological ice rink, toboggan runs, sleigh rides, sit skiing, skate skiing and ski bobbing.
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 CEBADILLA, 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". Alhama de Granada sits on top of one edge of a gorge occupied by the River Alhama with houses perched over a very impressive ravine. The industrial pounding of the river powering unseen below draws us down the steep cobbled track towards the old four mills. The zigzag path, once busy with workers and horse-drawn carts, is devoid of movement now.
ALHAMA DE GRANADA is famed for its Spa, ALHAMMAN, the name comes from the Arabic Al Hamma, meaning hot springs. The Romans discovered the springs and built baths here long before the Moors arrived. The famous baths with medicinal waters are entered through a picturesque gorge made by the river.
The white washed town of MONTEFRIO stands under a rock that seems on the point of flattening the place to oblivion. MONTEFRIO nestling between rolling hills and rivers preserves a rich and varied historical heritage with its beautiful castle lording over the town.
HUÉTOR-TÁJAR was an old farming property called Quariyat Tayara, under a tall handsome tower that still stands. It was formed by the joining of two settlements at the end of the 15th century,the morisco population having stayed behind after the reconquest. The irrigation system put down by the Moors are in many ways intact, however, now the white mulberries and the silk of those times.
ILLORA on the slopes of the SIERRA DE PARAPANDA was known as “GRANADA’S DARLING”, has an impregnable ALCAZABA with high wall and splendid buildings. AL-SAQUHNDI in the 13th century said “It is notable for its peculiarity of its river that flows through the houses, baths, market places, outside and inside mills and gardens”.
LOJA was considered the door to the Kingdom of Granada by Isabella and Ferdinand. It nestles between two sierras on the western side of the plains, where the Genil River forms the narrow pass of Los Infiernos (hell). The polygraph IBN AL-KHATIB, born in LOJA in 1313 described it “my city has a smiling face, the aspect of a charmer and of beautiful women who cure the ills of the heart.”
The remains of the ALCAZABA stand with Christian bell towers on both sides. Legend maintains that none less than TUBAL, grandson of NOAH, was the founder. It was a trading post under the Phoenicians, known at that time as Tricolia and it flourished under the Muslims. The occupation of Loja, “flower among thorns” by Ferdinand of Aragon presaged the end of the Nasrid kingdom. Most of its outstanding architecture was put up between the 16th and 18th centuries, including the churches of La Encarnación, San Gabriel and Santa Catalina. It is a pleasure to stroll through this town of many fountains.
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".
Come to the beautiful province of Granada and view some of the excellent properties for sale ranging from rural tourism to Bed & Breakfast, something for everyone
"Granada is like the beautiful, delicate land of our dreams; all those who see her, dream of visiting her again”. Chateaubriand.