HIGH SAINT MIGUEL´S BELVEDERE.
The city has many viewpoints, you can´t name just one. Then we will dedicate a tip to the most photogenic, São Nicolau.
Now let´s talk about the highest one, The Viewpoint of São Miguel Alto. Although the road is long and steep, crossing the Sacromonte, it is well worth the effort, the place is beautiful. We will arrive at the hermitage of the same name, where the olive tower was located, a defensive construction of the Muslim Granada, which was also a kind of monastery, an arroyo. It is said that the tower was built over a Christian temple where there was a very fertile olive tree laden with fruit, at this point the wall was also closed in the Albaicín. The fence of Don Gonzalo, a medieval Islamic style construction with earth and bricks that had 25 towers and 6 access gates.
Given the wonderful views, it is understood that this was a strategic surveillance point, from here you can see the whole city, the Albaicín, the Alhambra, even the historic centre and part of De la Vega.
We will have a different perspective, El Albaicín with its labyrinthine streets that get lost in the landscape, this is the origin of the city, it is the Arab world gathered in one neighbourhood. And Sacromonte, the gypsy quarter, almost a city. Its endless white houses carved into the mountain are seen to resemble a gigantic manger.
The gypsies of Granada are not visiting, nor did they arrive two days ago, they have been part of the city since 1465 until today. Coming from India, their mission was to arrive in Granada where they would be very useful in times of war, performing trades such as shearers, blacksmiths, horse caretakers.
On their arrival a certain distrust arose on the part of that Spain of the reconquest, which allowed them to unite some links with the Sephardim, totals, some infidels and other newcomers, the gang was also joined by Muslim outcasts.
With the expulsion of the Jews in 1492 and the advance of the anti-mourish campaign, the Roma are forced to change their lives, to stop living under their own laws without obeying any lord, to leave behind the life of nomads and with the pragmatics of Medina del Campo (1499) signed by Isabella and Ferdinand obliging them to have a fixed settlement and carry out some trade. If they did not comply, they would be expelled, executed or imprisoned. So they settled in Granada, in the Sacromonte, where they continued to live in harmony.
Calle Patio de la Alberca, 36, 18010 Granada
THE SLAPPING QUEEN!
If we can talk about something in Granada, it is its bars, its hundreds of bars. Going to the tapas is almost obligatory and super memorable, we must dive into the wonderful world of oils, cheeses, hams, sausages, paella, and a wide variety of dishes. In Granada, tapas are the protagonists of gastronomy, these snacks that can be anything you can imagine, croquettes, ham, cheese, even a "tapita" of paella or a "ración" the size of a hamburger.
Here tapas are part of everyday life, here we meet for tapas! When entering a bar and ordering some drink, we will be invited to one of those heavenly snacks, but... why tapas? As it can´t be otherwise, we go for the different versions, we can´t ignore the Arabic past, as it may have influenced, due to the custom of serving to eat with the traditional Moorish tea.
Another of the theories that the story tells refers to the monarch Alfonso X, known as the wise man. According to the recommendation of his doctor, he should drink wine, and so that it wouldn´t go to his head he asked for something to eat.
But the most widespread story refers to Alfonso XIII, who, being in Cádiz, where the wind is usually strong, was served a glass of wine and so that the drink would not fill with sand, he covered it with ham. He liked the idea so much that he asked for another glass, and of course, with a lid!
In Spain we have the habit of going for tapas, so much so that the word tapa and the verb tapas appear in the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE).
As a special recommendation, you should eat tapas with the city´s beer, an Alhambra! It is customary to eat tapas, pass by several bars, the best tapas itineraries are constantly updated on the internet.
Recommended locations, Calle Elvira, Plaza Nueva or Plaza Bib-Rambla.
A few steps from the Royal Chapel we have La Alcaicería, souk, market or bazaar, its name is due to Al-Kaiser-ia, which means Caesar´s place, where the Arabs could sell silk.
In the past it had over 200 shops, and its location was of vital importance, it was close to everything, the main mosque, the coal corral (old meatball).
The commercialisation of silk continued until the 18th century, when it ceased to be a closed space and the commercialisation of other products was authorised. Unfortunately, on 20 July 1843, fire destroyed everything, the fire started in a nearby match shop, then it was rebuilt in an idealised way, some streets were widened, the access was made easier and also greatly reduced.
Anyway, it is essential to dive into the streets with colourful clothes, feed your sense of smell with spices, get to know the paradise of lamps and want to take them all. When it´s time to buy a traditional souvenir, a good example is a box made with a craft technique known as inlay, the art of fitting together pieces of different materials to form a beautiful mosaic, that is, geometric figures.
Jafalauza pottery is another essential element, born in the Albaicín, that characteristic enamelled clay traditionally decorated in blue and white, although there are also models in green and white.
In this bazaar you will also find silver jewellery with beautiful designs, multicoloured plates, sarongs, dresses and high quality pashminas.
Calle Alcaicería, 1, 3, 18001 Granada
SAINT NICOLAU VIEWPOINT
In this place we have what will be one of the best photos of our lives, it´s a place hard to imagine, it´s a place we have to see! Time stops, the grandeur of the beauty leaves us perplexed, it´s that moment and a memory that penetrates the heart. It is perhaps one of the most romantic places in the world. From the belvedere, we have the best panoramic view of the Alhambra Complex, the imposing beauty of the passing of the centuries, the silence and bustle are nonexistent and at the same time are everything, like the soundtrack of a movie. We cannot miss visiting it at night, the lighting of the Alhambra is perfect, it is a magnificent setting where many lovers gather to swear eternal love.
The viewpoint is located in the highest part, where the citadel of Qadima was, the main axis of Muslim Granada, the origin, although the first walls were built during the caliphate, the powerful and majestic ones owe to the Zirí period in the 11th century, when the Kingdom of Granada had already been established.
Behind us the church of St Nicholas in the Mudejar style, a style that was born thanks to historical events, and which refers as much to architecture as to people, to Muslims who lived in a Christian period, many of them dedicated to construction, so they did their work as they knew how, with a certain Arab air, and with their own decorative elements, they used materials such as brick, plaster and wood which, being soft, allow them to be decorated. Mudejar architecture is a clear reflection of multicultural coexistence.
Next to the church is the cistern, one of 28 water reservoirs that were fundamental for the growth of the city. Arabic engineering, which consists of searching for a spring and by means of ditches to bring fresh water to the city. The current one, although from the Christian period, is built on one from the Zirí period.
Granada is still a crossroads of cultures, history, legend, walls and temples, whether Christian or Islamic, are still gathered in the same enclave, as we can hear the church bells, we can hear the muezzin of the main mosque calling to prayer.
To get to the viewpoint we have two minibuses, the C31 and the C32 with capacity for approximately 20 people. As a suggestion, take it in Plaza Nueva.
Plaza Mirador de San Nicolás, 2, 18010 Granada
These spectacular 11th century Arabic baths (Hammam) go unnoticed by many visitors. It is worth noting that it is the best-preserved and oldest in Spain. They are found in the lower part of a house, both its access and what it hides are very well preserved. It seems incredible that these bathrooms have lasted through time.
In Arab culture, water has a very high meaning, purity, wisdom, cleansing of spirit.... And besides hygiene, haircut and exfoliation, they were meeting places, social and sometimes political gatherings. In the planning of Arab cities, the hammam was as important as the mosque or the marketplace.
Although it has always been said that its construction belongs to the Zirí period of the 11th century, for some historians it would be from the 12th century due to the system used in the construction of its walls.
The baths were part of the Nogal mosque and had schedules for men and women.
The Hammam borrows almost all the elements of the Roman baths, it is divided into several parts, the dry, the wet and the service, with underground structures that allowed the temperature in each area to be maintained.
At our entrance, what we would call the dry part, we have the hall, then a small courtyard with a pool and a vaulted hall that served as a changing room and resting place before leaving the ideal place to balance the body temperature.
The wet area is characterised by various rooms, cold, warm and hot. The construction is sturdy and high to maintain heat and humidity, the vaults have magnificent octagonal star-shaped skylights that allow the lighting and ventilation of the room giving the feeling of being in the open sky.
The cold chamber is the smallest and the thickness of the walls is adapted to the temperature they want to keep, it is similar to the Roman frigidarium. We move on to the temperate zone, the largest because that is where most of the time was spent, massages were given here, and it is similar to the Roman tepidarium. Next, the hot zone like the Roman caldarium. And lastly, the service area where the boiler, the wood deposit and the oven were.
Darro Race 31
UP OR DOWN?
In this case, we propose two routes, for the more risky climbs, for the more relaxed descents.
In the first case, the Cuesta de los Chinos, is almost one kilometre long, and starts at the Darro river passing the Aljibillo bridge, goes up through beautiful vegetation on the Sábika hill, to the Alhambra (you can do the route on a slope). On the way, part of the wall will accompany us, we will see the iron gate, La Torre de Los Picos, which was one of the entrances to the Generalife. And even a small windmill.
This place has different names, the Chinese refer to the type of stone found in the soil, it is also known as Cuesta del Rey Chico, legend has it that through this place Aixa helped his son Boabdil to leave the Alhambra so that he could face his rebel army in the fight against his father.
It is also known as the slope of the dead, because it is on the way to the cemetery, and by Federico García Lorca it is known as the slope of the water, because on its way you can hear it constantly falling.
CUESTA DE GOMÉREZ
In this case, coming down from the Alhambra, after visiting this monument, letting yourself go along the path that follows the wall, we take a spectacular walk among leafy trees, birdsong and water. Along this path, in about 15 minutes we will reach the aforementioned Plaza Nueva. On the promenade we will be surprised by a terrace where we will find the Pillar of Charles V, a Renaissance fountain of great beauty, with exuberant decoration, it was commissioned by the Count of Tendilla, so its shield, besides the imperial one, is included in this work designed by Machuca and made by Niccolo da Corte in 1543. In the decoration we have the columns of Hercules, mythological figures, the pomegranate as symbol of the city, and the inscription of Charles V (IMPERATORI CAESARI KAROLO QUINTO HISPANIARUM REGI).
The fountain was used as a drinking fountain.Right next to it we have the door of justice, of the doors of the Alhambra this is the most monumental, the most hidden and clearly a great gateway, built during the mandate of Jusuff I in 1348. In front we find a large horseshoe arch crowned with an open hand (Fatima´s hand) giving protection, warding off the evil eye and symbolising the five precepts of Islam, profession of faith (shahada), prayer (salat), fasting in ramadan (swan), alms-giving (sakat ) and pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj or hall).
Behind this arch, a smaller one crowned with a key, the entrance to the medina (city), the key is a symbol of the Nasrid sultans. At the end of our tour we have another door, De Las Granadas, built-in 1536 to replace an Islamic door, of which today we can see some traces on one side, the work is by Pedro Machuca, the architect of the Palace of Charles V. The door gets its name because it is crowned by three pomegranates.
CATHEDRAL AND ROYAL CHAPEL
Almost impossible to talk about one without mentioning the other, these two monumental buildings complement each other.
Granada Cathedral is the first Renaissance building in Spain, it stands in the heart of the city, on the same site as the main mosque, from the Nasrid period, its first architects were Juan Gil de Hontañón and Enrique Egás.
The construction had several projects, the first in 1506, part of its walls were raised and officially the first stone was laid years later, on 24 March 1523.
From 1528 the works will be in charge of Diego de Siloé, the original layout of the cathedral will be slightly modified, with the death of Siloé it will be his disciple who will continue the work. Although we always classify it as a Renaissance work, with almost 200 years of construction, each artist has left their strokes and style, its plan is Gothic in structure, with five naves, the walls have impressive stained glass windows, the chancel is of a risky design, but of great beauty, where a sculpture of the Catholic Kings is kept.
The main baroque façade is a beautiful work by Alonso Cano, completed in 1667, with three large double-height arches, the first visual stimulus reminiscent of a great triumphal arch.
The cathedral hides some secrets that few people know. In the original design the cathedral would have two towers, but in the end only one was built due to difficulties in the foundations, until recently the bell ringer lived in the only tower, there was also a small garden and even chickens.
A great work kept in the cathedral is the Virgin of Antigua, a beautiful sculpture that accompanied the Christian armies in the reconquest. The baby Jesus holds a pomegranate as a sign of the Christian triumph over the city.
Around the cathedral is the Royal Chapel, which houses the remains of Isabel de Castilla, Fernando de Aragón, Juana de Castilla (the madwoman), Felipe el Hermoso and the infante Miguel, grandson of Catholic kings. .
Although the first intention of a royal mausoleum was established in Toledo, in the current monastery of San Juan de los Reyes, but Isabel being very ill in Medina del Campo signs a document indicating that her remains would rest together with those of her husband in the city of Granada, thanks to this Egás was hired to build the royal chapel according to Isabel´s wishes.
Finally the bodies of the Catholic Kings would be transferred in 1521 by order of his grandson, Emperor Charles V, before that the remains were in the monastery of San Francisco de la Alhambra.
It is a must visit, both the cathedral and the royal chapel of impeccable architecture and beauty.
5 Gran Vía de Colón Street.
GRANADE IS A WALK
Anywhere in this city is suitable for walking, its beauty overwhelms us and
makes us wander aimlessly through its streets delighting us with its treasures.... poetry appears without thinking, as Antonio Machado would say "all cities have their charm, Granada its own and all the others", or Hemingway "If we had to visit a single city in Spain, it should be Granada" or the famous Mexican Poet Francisco de Icaza "Give him alms, woman, there is nothing in life like the pain of being blind in Granada."
And of course, how can we forget Federico García Lorca, born in Fuente Cowboys and settled in Granada since 1909, since he arrived with his family was enchanted by the beauty of this city, so in 1918 the work "Impressions and landscapes", With its verses a passionate journey through the city and in this case the Albaicín district that is capable of making anyone fall in love.
"Granada is defenceless before the people; well, before flattery, nothing and no one has any way of defending himself."
"Grenada is fit for dreams and dreaming, everywhere it borders on the ineffable ... Grenada will always be more plastic than philosophical, more lyrical than dramatic."
From the new multiple routes square, despite its name, it is the oldest square in Granada, next to Plaza de Santa Ana, it is a busy place where locals and tourists alike enjoy themselves, and we felt for a moment Granadinos.
Near the square, along the Paseo de los Tristes, the light and melodic Darro River accompanies us for a stroll.
"By the water of Granada, only sighs row."
Continuing on our way, the climb to the Albaicín, to the Arab origin of the city, to its purest essence, where aimlessly and only by climbing among narrow and labyrinthine streets, we can discover the white houses, all whitewashed and huddled together, and every bit the Alhambra getting closer.
"White houses rise on the mountain with fantastic echoes... Opposite, the golden towers of the Alhambra show an oriental dream jagged against the sky."... "The houses are set, as if a hurricane wind had stirred them thus.... As you wander through its streets, scenes of legends emerge." ..." And people ... invent the legends of the dead and winter ghosts, and of goblins who come out at midnight when there is no moon wander the streets ..."
Through his work, we cannot ignore Lorca´s proximity to the Albaicín, with its houses, even making reference to the Carmenes, the traditional garden houses of this neighbourhood, the word Carmen according to the academy of languages comes from the Arabic Spanish Karm, which in its broader meaning means vineyard. During the Nasrid period these were country houses usually with vineyards. These houses, being on the slopes of the Albaicín, have a privileged view, many have been converted into restaurants with beautiful viewpoints of the Alhambra.
"It is the deeply lyrical Albayzín ... Silent streets with herbs, with houses with beautiful portals, with white minarets ... Streets that feel the silvery melodies of the Dauro and the leafy romances that sing the distant forests of the Alhambra."
Plaza Nueva, post code 18010.
A REST ENJOYING THE BEST DESSERT.
A pionono! This traditional cake from the town of Santa Fe can be savoured in almost every coffee shop in the city. Its particular name is due to the fact that in 1897 Ceferino Isla decided to open a confectioner´s shop on Calle Real de Santa Fe, the man was very fervent and as a show of respect wanted to make a dessert in honour of Pope Pius IX (Nono, ninth) and so The particular name appears, as a curious fact, in the book La Regenta, by Leopoldo Alas (nicknamed Clarín) where for the first time "pionono" is written instead of "pio nono".
Another interesting break is to try a Moorish tea in the tea houses of the Calderería Vieja or the Calderería Nueva, it is like travelling to another world! Colourful garlands, cushions, silver teapots, decorated glass cups.
There is a whole ritual when we talk about tea, the ingredients are: green tea, peppermint and usually a lot of sugar. First the tea is washed, the tea is added to the cauldron, water is added, heated and with circular movements "washed", then this water is thrown away, the washed tea remains, sugar, water is added to the cauldron, boil, then add the peppermint, bring to the boil without boiling and rest.... This whole process takes the best flavour from its ingredients, making the Moorish tea unique.
How they serve you is another experience, they serve your tea, serve it at a certain height so that it oxygenates and has a light foam and of course as you go along don´t forget to accompany the tea with the typical sweets, the almond pastes. Don´t forget to accompany your tea with typical sweets such as almond pastes, walnuts, pistachios, cupcakes with dates and countless other delicacies.
Tea shops on Calderería vieja or Calderería nueva streets behind the new plaza.
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