Andalucia has a fair few fantastic cities, all offering a very different slice of life in this wonderful part of Spain. For me, Granada has the edge and here is why..
Ok, so starting with an obvious one. This world heritage sight takes pride of place in the center of the city perched for all to see on a huge outcrop. It is a sight that, although touristy, will simply take your breath away. The interior and gardens are fantastic as well as the views from around the city with the snow capped Sierra Nevada as a backdrop. Head up to Mirador San Nicolas for one of the most well known views, or into the higher surrounding hills to escape the crowds.
There are not many places in the world, where buying a small drink will get you a substantial plate of food for free. Here it does. Depending on the bar, even buying a 1 euro beer will get you some bread, cheese, potatoes, pasta or olives. Sometimes all five! Stray away from the main squares and fine dining can also be easily tracked down for bargain prices, as well as lots of delicious North African restaurants. Also they do some of the best late night kebabs and falafel in Spain.
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Sea and mountains on the doorstep
It is a well known fact that you can swim on the beach and ski in the mountains on the same day. Although usually people do these at different times of year, the coast is still sometimes warm enough to swim in January. It takes about 40 minutes to drive to the ski resorts and about the same down to the coast to Motril or Salobrena. Love beaches and mountains, no need to choose. The city itself is also pretty compact and walking meaning there is no need for drawn out, sweaty metro journeys.
Beautiful and diverse
Granada has so many different neighbourhoods and each has a totally different feel. The winding streets of the Albaicin tumble down the hillside haphazardly and look the same as they have for centuries. The centre of town has wide terraces and plenty of gothic architecture juxtaposed with modern office blocks, there’s loads of colourful buildings near Plaza Nueva too. Sacromonte on the outskirts of town is unique with it’s converted caves still being lived in today. Some parts of the city even feel Moroccan. Contrast and variety around every corner.
A city of such variety of course attracts a wide range of people. People from all walks of life call Granada home, along with plenty of colourful characters. You will brush shoulders with bare foot hippies busking in the streets, suited businessmen enjoying a long lunch break, partying students and grandmas getting their groceries. On warm summer nights its seems like everyone, young and old, hits the streets and people watching here is just the best.
Spanish cities are usually tolerant of good graffiti and Granada is no exception. Turn around a winding corner and you come across some truly magnificent art. There is plenty of underground counter-culture here and much of it is expressed on the walls of the city. It all adds to the interesting bohemian vibe.
The history of the city is just as colourful as the streets. This was the last stronghold of Moorish Spain, hence the reason there is still such a North African feel here, and was once one of the richest cities in Medieval Europe. After an eight month siege the city was finally surrendered to the Catholic monarchs. Religious persecution was soon ensued here and the city fell into decline for a few centuries, only recently regaining it’s former glory. You can’t walk far without stumbling across some historical sight or old church and delving more into the city’s story rewards like a good thriller.
Although it gets pretty hot in the summer, it is a dry heat and not nearly as oppressive as the humidity on the coast. Once the sun sets the temperature drops to a comfortable level and everyone spends balmy summer nights dining and drinking al fresco. The summer is long and even though it can get pretty chilly in winter, its usually a crisp cold with clear skies.
Did you love Granada? If not which Spanish city gets your vote as the most glorious?