Granada is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. It lies against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which shade it from the intense temperatures of the summer. My trip to Granada included a visit to the Alhambra, tastes of Spanish tapas, looking at street art, visiting cave structures, and drinking sangria. Needless to say Granada is a city of complexity and layers. While it is known most commonly for the Alhambra, a mega Moorish palace and fortress complex that was completed during the fourteenth century, Granada reveals itself as a growing and exciting city. In fact, Granada is one of the most popular towns among university students, as we soon discovered on our short trip there.
The first day in Granada, we visited the areas above the center of the city, where there is a lot of interesting street art- some done by local artists and others by international artist who are drawn to the Granada art scene. Along the way, we also visited a cave structure that is one of many dug into the hillsides of the Alhambra. From the outside, it is quite difficult to distinguish the house as a cave structure, because the façade is quite typical. However, only about a fifth of the house is built in front of the hill. The other four-fifths of the home is created by digging into limestone hillside. These cave homes are not as rustic as you may think, however. They are equipped with internet, electricity, and all the other modern amenities. Our free tour guide explained that the inhabitants continue to dig deeper into the hill, creating more rooms as the family begins to grow.
Later that night, we had our first taste of tapas in Granada. Granada is particularly unusual in that there is a very strong food and drinking culture. So much so that, tapas are almost always free with a drink. We decided to test out this theory and headed to a local bar. At the bar, we ordered some local wine and beer, and true enough, the drinks came with free sandwiches and slices of manchego cheese. After drinks, we went to a local club frequented by university students and enjoyed free drinks all night. Supposedly, drinks are free on certain nights of the week. I am still perplexed as how this works exactly. Nonetheless, we enjoyed our share of free sangria.
The final day in Granada, we visited the Alhambra complex. We had to wake up very early due to the fact that there are a limited number of Alhambra tickets given out every day. The complex is enormous. It took us about three hours to see most of the structures within the complex. While we were there, the court of lions was restored, and we were able to see the lion fountainheads that were on exhibit. The most impressive part, however, was the extensive landscape that joined the multiple structures within the complex.
The use of water creates a flow within the spaces. My favorite part was the ancient aqueducts that come down from the Alhambra, through a massive green park, and into the center of the city- connecting the Alhambra to the main city center. It is possible to dip your feet into the aqueducts on the walk up to the Alhambra, because the aqueducts are located on the ground. This can be especially nice during the blistering temperatures of the Granada summer.