Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Granada - Spain Travel Guide

Wander the Moorish quarter, marvel at the Alhambra, visit the Sierra Nevadas, enjoy tapas and flamenco- all in one day!

The gateway to Andalucia

•History: Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Moors, Christians- Granada has been has been conquered and influenced by them all. With its strategic location Granada has always been an important foothold in southern Spain. Granada’s Moorish districts, palaces, and Moroccan markets, give visitors the unique opportunity to experience the fusion of North African and Spanish cultures in a city that once was the stronghold of Muslim Spain. During the 20th century, Granada became the centre for the Spanish artistic movement and in the 1970’s a number of new universities and colleges were established in an effort to promote further education. Today, Granada is a thriving cultural and historical centre that attracts students and visitors from around the world. Granada’s energetic atmosphere, open-mindedness, and striking location at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountain range (the highest mountains in Spain) is sure to impress.

•Weather: Granada enjoys hot, dry summers. In the evening, under the shadow of the Sierra Nevada, the city cools down making the evenings comfortable if not a little chilly. Winters in Granada can be cold with temperatures as low as 0c.

•Dining in Granada: Visitors will find a wide variety of drinking and dining options when wandering through Granada’s various districts. From Moroccan-style snack bars to traditional yet trendy restaurants there is definitely a healthy selection to choose from. Unlike most other cities in AndalucĂ­a, Granada’s tapas bars still provide their patrons with free tapas to accompany each drink (a tradition still upheld throughout the villages of AndalucĂ­a). With this hospitable tradition still intact, enjoying a few glasses of wine or a beer accompanied by complementary tapas can often take the place of an evening meal.

•Location: Located on the edge of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Granada occupies a dramatic location with high snow capped peaks to the east and rolling fields to the west. The city is 75km from the coast and 25km from the heart of the Sierra Nevada, making it possible to go skiing and sunbathe on the beach in the same day.

•Skiing the Sierra Nevada

: Skiers and Snowboards have the opportunity to ski the most southerly ski mountain in Europe between the end of November and the beginning of April. Weather dependant, it is about a 45 minute drive from Granada to the Sierra Nevada ski resort. 17.35 million Euros has recently been invested in the resort to improve the general facilities and the ski lifts running from the resort’s various base stations. Lift passes range from 32-40 Euros for a full day and 27-34 Euros for a half day. Skiers and boarders enjoy a vertical drop of 1200m from the 3300m peak. There are 6 different ski areas: Veleta, Laguna De Las Yeguas, Borreguiles, Lomar Dilar, Rio Monachil, and Parador. The mountains themselves are worth visiting even if you are not planning on skiing as the drive itself into the range is spectacular. For skiers the terrain is varied and the snow conditions can be excellent. Resort Facts: Number of runs: 87. Ski lifts: 24 including 2 gondolas. •The Alhambra: This Moorish Palace is one of the world’s most treasured buildings. Perched on a hill overlooking the city, the Alhambra is the Spanish equivalent of the Acropolis of Athens with its dominating and elegant presence. In the evening the stone of the palace walls are bathed in orange light by the sunset over the western plains, giving the palace a warm glow visible throughout the city. Inside the palace complex you will find palm tree-filled gardens, ornate courtyards, carved alcoves richly decorated and coloured, and the beautiful Moorish style windows and porticos that defined the architecture of the time. Beware of the crowds though. The Alhambra attracts thousands of visitors a year and it is advisable to pre-book your tickets if you are visiting the city during Spanish school holidays or the peak summer months. Any opportunity to visit the Alhambra should not be missed.

•The Palacio de Generalife: This palace and garden was the rural residence of the 13th-14th century Moorish rulers of Granada and is located nearby the Alhambra on the Cerro del Sol. Inside the palace walls you will find fountains, and beautiful gardens (Jardin de la Sultana). From mid June to early July, the Generalife is one of the main venues for the annual Granada International Festival of Music and Dance. The gardens act as an open air theatre for dance and ballet; a truly enchanting setting. Whilst symphony orchestras, concerts, flamenco nights, and world music is held in other unique locations throughout the city, including the Alhambra, gothic churches, and areas of the Albaicin and El Sacromonte. Click the following link to check the festival’s website for further information on this world famous annual event: Granada International Festival of Music and Dance.

•Churros!: Various cafes and bakeries in Granada serve Churros. If you have a sweet tooth you should definitely order a portion of these. Churros are long tubular pieces of fried-dough, a sort of Spanish doughnut, which you dip in hot cups of thick hot chocolate sauce, delicious!

•The Albayzin: Is the old Moorish district of Granada located below the Alhambra. Here, Moorish medieval Granada still remains intact. Exploring the narrow winding streets, where Moroccan shopkeepers peddle various North African arts and crafts, and mint tea is served steaming in ornate tea pots from any of the tiny saloons accessible from the street, you would be forgiven if you thought you were in Marrakesh.

•Nightlife in Granada: Apparently Granada has more bars per inhabitant per square kilometre than any other city in Spain. So it can be difficult to decide where to go. Head towards Calle Navas (off Plaza del Carmen) or Calle Elvira (beside the River Darro, below the Alhambra). These areas have an excellent selection of tapas bars, restaurants, and clubs. At night, Calle Elvira comes to life with an eclectic crowd of young students, artists, locals, and tourists all after a lively night out in the rich atmosphere of Granada’s historical district.

•El Sacromonte: This ‘sacred mountain’ is the hill that presides over the eastern end of Calle Elvira across the river from the Alhambra. Looking across from the Alhambra, you will see various dark holes in the side of the Sacromonte. These holes are actually caves which have been inhabited for centuries by various peoples. Many of the caves have been converted into cave houses and flamenco bars. This unique area of Granada is one of the best places in Spain to experience traditional Gypsy Flamenco. During the day, walking amongst the white washed houses and tiny cobbled streets, overlooking the steep ravine freckled by cactus and pink flowers is thoroughly enjoyable.

•Semana Santa: Granada’s Semana Santa (Easter) festival is second only to Seville in size and intensity. Expect to find crowds of people gathered in the street to watch the holy processions of masked and cloaked ‘costaleros’ carrying massive bejewelled altar-like floats. The processions are accompanied by drum beat and devotional songs. On the Thursday of holy week there is a procession of silence which is an intense spectacle to witness. This holy festival is a unique opportunity to experience the soul of Spain. Be sure to pre-book your accommodation well in advance if you plan to attend.

•Holidays to Granada: We have an excellent choice of holidays in Granada.

•Hotels in Granada: We have excellent hotels in Granada, all with our lowest prices guaranteed.

•Cheap Flights to Granada: We have cheap flights to Granada.

•Car hire in Benidorm old town: There's so much to explore, you would be wise to hire a car. We can offer great deals on car hire in Granada so check us out when completing your holiday booking.

•Transfers to your hotel in Granada: We can book your transfers from the airport to your hotel in Granada. We can also book UK airport car parks online, plus travel insurance and currency exchange for your holiday.

•Granada Hotel Reviews: Written exclusively by genuine customers who have booked and stayed in the hotel.

Did you know? Granada was occupied by the Moors for almost 800 years

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