We had a great stay in Granada. We arrived on Saturday afternoon, during siesta (which lasts from 3:00 to 5:00 and turns the city into a ghost town). After finding a nice “pension” near one of the city’s main squares, we went out for a stroll to check out the city’s main cathedral. The enormous building has a white arched ceiling held up by a series of columns (as pictured below), and a generous amount of stained glass.
Afterward, we walked down the city’s main shopping drag in search for the English bookstore listed in our guidebook, but unfortunately it was closed. The walk was great for people-watching though, and we saw plenty of examples of a new European fashion craze that Abby will be writing about soon.
On Sunday, we got up early to check out Granada’s main attraction: the Alhambra, a large palace / fortress complex built by the Nasrid dynasty in the 13th and 14th century. The main sections are the Generalife (a large garden), the Palacio de Carlos V (an large Renaissance building with a circular courtyard), the Alcazaba (a set of ramparts and a large watchtower), and the Palacio Nazaríes , which is the main attraction. The Palacio Nazaríes is considered by some to be the most impressive Islamic structure in all of Europe, a statement that we certainly can’t argue with. The palace had room after room of arches and ornately carved stone walls and wooden doors. It was truly impressive.
Out the window was a beautiful garden.
We spent about three and a half hours total exploring the Alhambra, more time than we’ve spent at any other site on the trip, and finally left satisfied but exhausted. It’s impossible to show the real splendor of the place in a couple blog pictures, but take our word for it — it’s a sight not to be missed!
Aside from the sights, the other part of Granada that Abby and I really enjoyed was tapas. Granada takes pride in being one of the last few cities in Spain where it is still customary for bar owners to serve a small complimentary snack with each drink order (bars in most other cities charge nowadays). For example, when we each ordered a glass of sangria, the bar also brought out a couple pieces of bread covered with a tasty crab spread. Different tapas come out with each round of drinks, apparently in some pre-set order defined by the bar. The patron does not get to choose what they get. Perhaps this makes it easier and more economical, since bars can pre-make a bunch of small plates and hand them out as the drink orders come in. In any case, it’s an interesting and wonderful concept.