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Visit Granada - Grenade Spain

Granada City and Granada Province

Without a doubt, the Alhambra and the Generalife are the city and the province’s main attractions, drawing in more than two million visitors every year. But Granada is much more than just the Alhambra. The city itself and the other 168 municipal areas that make up the province have a varied and complete offering of culture and monuments. There are few cities like Granada in the world, with such jam-packed and varied history reflected so well through their streets and monuments. Granada is not a city to be seen and enjoyed in a single day.

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Cultural and monumental tourism in Granada - Grenade - Flamenco, La Zambra and the Sacromonte Quarter

Granada is one of the main references of flamenco in Spain, especially the Sacromonte is one of its cradles. This gipsy quarter in Granada is the heart of what flamenco experts called ‘jondura’ or ‘duende’ and origin of the zambra, a flamenco dance and song party which has its origin in the 16th century, in particular, at the wedding rituals of the moriscos in Granada. This party takes place every night in their caverns, actually converted into flamenco theatres, where one can enjoy performances executed by the most traditional gipsy families in the quarter.

The long history of its towns and villages, the varied artistic styles of its monuments, the quality of its musical and theatrical activities and the rich traditions kept alive by its inhabitants make culture one of the province of Granada’s badges of identity and its main touristic attraction.

Without a doubt, the Alhambra and the Generalife are the city and the province’s main attractions, drawing in more than two million visitors every year. But Granada is much more than just the Alhambra. The city itself and the other 168 municipal areas that make up the province have a varied and complete offering of culture and monuments. There are few cities like Granada in the world, with such jam-packed and varied history reflected so well through their streets and monuments. Granada is not a city to be seen and enjoyed in a single day.

Just the historical monument complex of the Alhambra and the Generalife on its own demands a visit of several hours to take in its captivating beauty. And visitors cannot leave Granada without strolling around in the jasmine-scented streets of the Moorish Albaicín quarter, and seeing the Catholic Monarch’s mausoleum inside the Royal Chapel, the Cathedral, and the Science Park, Andalusia’s most frequently visited museum.

Alhambra and Generalife: Its construction as a fortress and royal palace was ordered by the kings of the Nasrid dynasty between the 13th and 15th centuries, and it is one of Europe’s main complexes of monuments. It is made up of the Alcazaba, a walled military city; the Palaces, a royal residence; and the palace and gardens of the Generalife, a royal summer residence. Water, a rather scare commodity in North Africa from where the Nasrid dinasty came, is present in the main sections of the monument: the famous Lions’ Courtyard, the no less well known Arranyanes Courtyard, the Dos Hermanas Hall, the Abencerrajes Hall, the royal bathhouse… Built later on but an integral part of the monument complex is the Palace of Charles the 5th, started in 1527 by architect Pedro Machuca in the purest renaissance style.

 Granada Cathedral: Although considered a masterpiece of the Spanish renaissance, Granada Cathedral, which took 181 years to build, also mixes elements from other architectural styles into its structure. In 1529 Diego de Siloé set out the renaissance lines of the whole building on top of gothic foundations, with a carole feature and five naves instead of the usual three, already consolidated by Enrique Egas. In 1667 Alonso Cano altered the initial plans for the main façade and introduced some baroque elements. The cathedral was built over the main mosque of the Moorish city and it would have been all the more magnificent if the two great 81 metre tall towers set out in the plans had been built. Economic and foundation difficulties meant that the right hand side tower was not built while the left one was not finished, only rising up a mere 57 meters.

Granada Royal Chapel: The construction was ordered by the Catholic Monarchs in 1504 for their bodies to lie in rest. The building displays a late gothic sheen on the crests of the outside walls while the interior shows the first fruit of the Spanish renaissance. The tombs are located in the centre of the crossing behind a splendid plateresque grill by Bartolomé de Jaén. The Catholic Monarchs lie to the right and Joan the Mad and Philip the Handsome to the left, both sets are carved in Carrara marble. The crypt, containing the lead coffins of the four monarchs and that of prince Michael lies beneath them.

Cartuja: Begun at the beginning of the 16th century, the most notable feature of this monastery is its beautiful church, a disconcerting baroque piece which at first sight seems to be excessively decorated and which houses remarkable canvases by Sánchez Cotán. The Tabernacle Chapel has some even more over ornate architecture, and its affectation contrasts with the austerity of Carthusian life. However the most famous section of the church is the sacristy, due to the light in its rooms and the abundant fantasy in its decoration.

 Others: The bathhouse, the Dar-al-Horra Palace, the Corral del Carbón, the Alcaicería, the Santo Domingo royal apartments, the Madraza, the city walls and gates and the Alcázar del Genil building all stand out from the Moorish period. The Hospital Real, the Royal Chancellery, the San Jerónimo Monastery, Sacromonte Abbey, and the churches of Santo Domingo, San Juan de Dios, and the Virgen de las Angustias Basilica, to name but a few of the provincial capital’s monuments, were all built following the conquest of Granada by the Catholic Monarchs.

Museums in Granada: Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum, Cathedral Museum, Catholic Monarchs Museum, Sacromonte Museum, Fine Arts, Manuel de Falla Home-Museum, García Lorca Home-Museum, José Guerrero Centre, Rodríguez Acosta Foundation and the San Juan de Dios Museum.

Parque de las Ciencias: Andalusia’s most frequently visited museum. The motto of this interactive science museum is “  Touching NOT prohibited”. Visitor participation is essential. On the one hand manually, handling apparatus, working switches, giving instructions to computers and on the other through thought, trying to help one understand what is happening and why it happens that way. 

Despite continued growth, Granada is still the right size to get about in on foot. In fact, apart from visiting historical monuments, visitors must not forget to have a stroll roundthe city’s historical quarters: the Albaicín, declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO, from where one can take in matchless views of the Alhambra and surrounding plains; Sacromonte, with its famous caves and Gypsy flamenco dancing; Realejo, the former Jewish quarter; and areas with a great atmosphere, like Calderería, brought back to life by tea shops serving a range of spicy teas and the Alcaicería, a former Arabic soukh.

The province of Granada

The whole province has historical monument and cultural tourism attractions, from the West to the Altiplano, passing through the Marquesado, the Tropical Coast and the Alpujarras and Valle de Lecrín. A few of the towns in a belt around the provincial capital have even left their mark on world history and culture: Santa Fe, the borough created by the Catholic Monarchs from where to lay siege to Granada, was where Columbus organised the discovery of America from; and Fuentevaqueros, birthplace of Federico García Lorca, one of the most important poets and dramatists to have graced Spanish letters.

Guadix, city of monuments, has an interesting historical and artistic heritage, the singularly most outstanding example of which is the Alcazaba, declared a national monument; magnificent views over the plains, the city and the Sierra Nevada can be had from its 11th century towers. Religious architecture plays a very prominent role in Guadix and there are some notably interesting buildings such as the athedral and the churches of Santa Ana, Santo Domingo and San Francisco.

The Moorish Alcazaba, the High Church dedicated to Santa Catalina, the church of San Gabriel, the Convent of Santa Clara and the Pósito Nuevo grain store all stand out in Loja, also known as the “City of Water” and Castril are not far away, all of which have a great heritage of monuments and archaeology.

The Alpujarras keep alive the customs of the Moors and Moriscos who inhabited them till they were sent away by Philip the IInd. Even nowadays, irrigation ditches built 5 centuries ago and traditional culture systems are used. Architecture remains too in the narrow and high streets of the villages. Houses, always whitewashed, are deeply adapted to the mountainous surrounding, built with stones, mat, slate and chestnut tree wood.

The Jazz and Tango festivals have also earned great prestige. Other cultural and animation exhibitions take place every year: Young Producers Meeting, Comic Exhibition, Hocus Pocus Magic Meeting and Organ Music Meeting. There are also wide cultural possibilities in the province. The Andrés Segovia International Guitar Competition in Almuñécar; the Coast’s Jazz Festival in the same town; the Santa Fe Comedy Theatre Festival; the Alpujarra Festival of Traditional Music; The Andalusia Song Festival in Alhama; Loja’s famous Flamenco “Volaera” and the International festival Parapanda- Folk in Íllora.

Cultural activity

The provincial capital Granada is a restless city, is a hotbed of cultural activities all year round. Alhambra and Isabel la Católica theatres has performances and concerts all over the year. The Ciudad de Granada Symphony Orchestra plays at Manuel de Falla Auditory. Pop and rock concerts can be attended quite often. The one with the deepest roots is the Festival of Music.

Sierra Nevada

The Sierra Nevada Ski Resort is just 32 kilometers away from the City of Granada. Its 84 kilometers of slopes and its magnificent tourism infrastructure and sports facilities make it the best winter resort in Spain. It nestles inside the Sierra Nevada National Park. At 3,478 meters high, Mulhacén is the highest peak in the Iberian Peninsula.

Granada Poniente: on the province’s Western side, its main towns are Loja, Alhama de Granada, Montefrío, Íllora and Moclín. It has an immense Moorish legacy, which can be seen in every street and in the many fortresses built during the reign of the Nasrid dynasty.

Guadix and El Marquesado: Located to the East of Granada and made up of Guadix and surrounding villages, this district has great conditions for historical monument, rural and active tourism. It shares with Baza-Huéscar: El Altiplano, a semidesert landscape, a valious archaeological and historical area with the tradition of underground living, wich is the origin of touristic accommodation in caverns.

Baza-Huéscar - The Altiplano: This contrasting district, set in the North West of the province, sits at over 1,000 meters above sea level. Its central area, with some impressive desert landscapes, is hemmed in by a ring of green mountain ranges. Archaeological digs have shown that it was populated more than a million years ago. The Lady of Baza, chief among Iberian remains, was also found here.

Baza, Galera, Cúllar, Puebla de don Fadrique, Huéscar and Castril are some of the main settlements. The Alpujarras and Valle de Lecrín: An almost unspoilt district, lying between the Sierra Nevada and the Mediterranean sea, ideal for rural tourism and adventure sports. The Poqueira ravine, with its whitewashed villages, has earned great prestige as a tourist destination. The towns of Lanjarón, Tre vélez, Cádiar, Órgiva and all those settled around the green and fertile Valle de Lecrín are also worth mentioning.

More about Granada:

Granada - Grenada: The city of Granada - Grenada and Sierra Nevada

Rural tourism Granada

Granada - Granada Sierra Nevada Travel and Tours - City Guide Granada



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