I was fortunate to have my family come and visit me for Semana Santa (Holy Week, Easter) when I lived in Madrid. We spent a packed week touring around southern Spain and one of the first places we hit was Granada. I had been wanting to see El Alhambra since moving to Spain and this was thankfully on their list as well. Granada is a little over 4 hours drive from Madrid but it is a pretty straight shot, and you pass through Ciudad Real which is where we saw a lot of the beautiful molinas (windmills). We stayed in the Dauro Hotel in the city center, which was a very comfortable and well situated hotel, with a typical Spanish breakfast buffet of cold hams and cheeses. We had wanted to stay at the Alhambra itself, as a part of it has been turned into one of the paradores of Spain (historic sites that have been turned into hotels), but it was really cost prohibitive, close to $400 a night last I checked.
El Alhambra is a ancient fortress from the 9th century, originally built by Muslim sultans, so you see a very distinct influence on the architecture. It was taken over los Reyes Católicos (the Catholic Kings and Queens), King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile in 1492. One of the first things you notice about it is that it is located strategically up on the hill, where you can see it from all over the city and vice versa. The main point is the Palacio de Generalife, loosely taken to mean Garden of the Architect. We decided, because of the sheer size of it, to take a guided tour of the grounds and palace so as to get the most information.
When you enter, you walk down quite the pathway, twists and turns, different archways and gardens to get to the palace. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the mosaic tiles on the ground and the beautiful flowers that were in bloom, even on this cold spring day.
Once you walk around the palace and the grounds you are surrounded by the most amazing history and architecture. I have to just let the pictures speak for themselves sometimes.
Throughout the palace you will see great examples of Muslim carvings which date to ancient times.
The writer, Washington Irving, also spent a lot of time in Granada, actually lived at the Alhambra and wrote his famous “Tales of the Alhambra”, which is commemorated here.
We were also fortunate that there were beautiful Judas trees in bloom.
One other cool thing we did while in Granada was take a tour of local olive and oil pressing. We got to see the process up close and pick from some olive trees. Now, I love olives, but if you have never tasted a raw olive from the tree, here is hint: it tastes NOTHING like it does after it has been processed and prepared. Blech! I can’t even describe the taste, it was so foul lol.
I am thoroughly looking forward to re-visiting this charming city in southern Spain. Granada and the Alhambra will literally take your breath away. Visiting during Semana Santa will also give you a whole different view of Spanish customs, watching the men in hooded robes carrying the various religious relics throughout the streets, representing the different phases of the passion of Christ.
Of course, who couldn’t love Granada with a view like this?
Buen viajes, gnomies!
Ever been to Granada or visited the Alhambra? Comment and let the gnome know!