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With more than 230.000 inhabitants, Granada is the capital city of the province, in the autonomous community of Andalusia. The city is mainly known for its Moorish heritage, whose prominent symbols are the Alhambra, the ancient Nasrid citadel, and the Palace. It is served by the Federico García Lorca Airport, although the largest airports are those of Malaga and Seville.
In Granada, you can enjoy the mountains, as the city is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains and have a short trip (just one hour by car) to the Mediterranean coast. It is also a great city for students. The University of Granada counts more than 80.000 students enrolled, making it the fourth-largest university in Spain.
The etymology of the place name comes from the Arabic Gárnata, which possibly means “hill of strangers.” Granada lived its best period when al-Andalus (Islamic Spain) was first an Emirate and then an Umayyad Caliphate. During this time, it was a significant trading city for the exchange of precious stones and weapons. Granada was no longer at the center of the country’s cultural life in the following centuries until the American writer Washington Irving came to the city in 1829. He stayed in the Alhambra and wrote The Tales of the Alhambra, which attracted many writers, artists, and romantic travelers such as Alexandre Dumas, Honoré Daumier, Delacroix, and others.
Have a walk in the old and beautiful Moorish city or visit the gypsy areas filled with historical sights. Most important, don’t miss the Alhambra. It has gorgeous palaces with gardens and courtyards.
The Alhambra palatial complex deserves an honorable mention. This place is important for many reasons, and that is why it is the most popular sight in all of Spain. It is no coincidence that it was designated as World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984.
This monumental site has over 140.000 square meters to explore, was built in the 14th century by Muhammad Ibn Nasr and consisted of three parts: the Alcazaba (the fortified residence), the Royal House or Alcazar (the Palace), the High Alhambra (the People’s Artisans’ Quarter). You would need at least 3 hours to visit everything.
You should also not miss the Generalife, the sultans’ summer residence. This Palace, built around 1315 next to the Alhambra, is a recreational villa and a set of gardens, cattle farms, and hunting lodge for the sultans and their guests.
The Madrasa is the only Nasrid building that is still standing in the suburb of the Great Mosque. Founded in 1349 by Sultan Yusuf I, the Madrasa was the first university in Granada and one of the oldest in Europe. Visitors can appreciate some forms of Nasrid art, such as the mihrab, thanks to recent excavations and restorations.
This amazing building is Spain’s almost largest cathedral as it is in second place in this list. The first stone of the Cathedral of Granada was placed in 1523 on the site of the former Great Mosque but was only finished in 1704. For this reason, you can observe the style transition. While you can find a gothic-style foundation, there is also a renaissance-style interior structure.
Next to the cathedral, visitors can find the Royal Chapel; it is a place where the two important rulers of Spain rest. These rulers are Isabella I and Ferdinand II, and they were Catholic Monarchs. The designer of their tomb was an Italian sculptor, and it is made from alabaster. When visiting the Royal Chapel, you can also find the graves of their successors.
Granada is also considered to be the place where flamenco was created, especially when talking of Zambra, the traditional style. If you want to visit a show, you should visit Sacromonte as many events take place there. Above the Albaicín is the Sacromonte, a district in which numerous caves, once inhabited by gypsies, have been excavated. The caves have been modified slightly to be halls where the performances can be arranged. In case you wish to see a flamenco performance, we can highly recommend visiting the caves in Granada.