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Granada Travel Guide

Dating back to the thirteenth century, the Alhambra is a sprawling palace citadel and symbol of the city’s former glory. Considered by some to be one of the ten wonders of the world, the Alhambra is a rambling complex consisting of beautiful gardens, incredible fortifications and sumptuous palaces. Spain’s most popular monument, it receives 8000 visitors per day. One of the main features of the gardens is the use of water, the most famous example being the Patio de los Leones, a centrally located fountain supported by lions. It is advised that you book your tickets in advance when visiting the Alhambra, as queuing all day does not guarantee entrance. If you want to enjoy a less crowded tour go at night when, although only the major sections are open, the palace takes on a truly magical ambience. A short walk to the east of the Alhambra is Generalife, where you will discover a garden to rival anything found in the palace. Occupying a site that was once a Moorish orchard it is a delight to behold, with its lavish combination of Moorish, Renaissance and Italian style, featuring numerous patios, terraced gardens, babbling Water Steps and countless fountains. On the side of a hill, opposite Alhambra, is Albascin, Granada’s old Arabic quarter. With its winding cobbled streets, white washed houses, intriguing squares and sun-drenched terraces it is the stuff of fairytales. Albascin is a favourite area for socialising, drinking and dining. It is also a popular haunt of artists, mainly due to the many amazing views of Alhambra. The architecture in the Arabic quarter is impressive to say the least. Filled with Muslim ramparts, cisterns, fountains and large walled villas incorporating parts of Islamic buildings, it is like stepping back into the eleventh century. You can visit the ancient Banos Arabes (Muslim Baths), peer through iron gates at fabulous gardens or just sit and soak up the atmosphere.

A short distance from the city is Fuente Vaqueros, birthplace of the famous Spanish play write Lorca. Here the Museo Frederico Garcia Lorca houses an excellent collection of photos, posters, costumes and other related artefacts. A few miles north east of the city is Viznar, where the great author was shot by Nationalists in the late 1930s and just outside the village of stands a granite block marking his alleged place of execution.

A popular spot in the evenings is Paseo de cos Trister, which is an ideal starting point for a night on the town. Here there are plenty of exciting little bars and terraces, mostly playing music and practically all serving free tappas – a tradition in Granada. A favourite with students and the young and trendy is a newer area of the city, Pedro a de Alarcon, which caters for revellers and romantics alike. But for a truly romantic night you need only visit Las Cuevas del Sacromonte, the gypsy caves. Here you will be treated to Zambra, a spontaneous celebration of dance and music that last all night.

Music is very much a part of the Granadian way of life and really comes to the fore at the end of June, during Corpus Christi, when they hold the International Music and Dance Festival that replace the passion plays that traditionally followed the religious rituals, with music and dance. This colourful festival has become one of the most important in Europe and its spectacle is further enhanced by its locations in the palaces of Alhambra and the outdoor theatre in the majestic gardens of Generalife.

Granada may not have the modern attitude to tourism that so much of Spain now embraces, but for a flavour of the countries real tradition it cannot be beaten. A visit to this historical city is as richly rewarding an experience as you will find anywhere else in the world.

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Granada Travel Guide, Attractions and Highlights
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