Off to the Alhambra and the City of Granada

Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains and at the confluence of four rivers, the Darro, the Genil, the Monachil and the Beiro, Granada is the capital city of the province of Granada, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. It sits at an average elevation of 2,421 ft above sea level and is only one hour by car from the Mediterranean coast.

Today we leave Costa del Sol and the Hotel Alay for the city of Granada.
 After watching the sunrise, we hit the buffet for a hearty breakfast before boarding the bus for our ride north to Granada.

The scenery along the way is rugged.

On the bus our ears are popping.

We arrive in downtown Granada and have some to walk around and find lunch.

We walked past the Cathedral of Granada, then walk pretty much all the way around it.

The cathedral of Granada is built over the Nasrid Great Mosque of Granada, in the centre of the city. Its construction began during the Spanish Renaissance in the early 16th century, shortly after the conquest of Granada by the Catholic Monarchs, who commissioned the works to Juan Gil de Hontañón and Enrique Egas. Like many Spanish churches and cathedrals it started out Gothic and finished Renaissance.

Jay and I stop for lunch La Cueva de 1900. We watched as our sandwich was prepared and we were not disappointed eating it. Melted cheese and jamon!

The shops around the cathedral had more teas and spices than I've ever seen.

We meet up with Alex and the crew and head toward our bus. We have an appointment to visit the Alhambra and cannot be late.

The Alhambra is a Nasrid "palace city". It was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1984. Tourist traffic is now regulated, hence our 2 p.m. appointment. It consists of the the palace, gardens and orchards of the Generalife.

In the 11th century the Castle of the Alhambra was developed as a walled town which became a military stronghold that dominated the whole city. But it was in the 13th century, with the arrival of the first monarch of the Nasrid dynasty, Muhammad I of Granada (Mohammed I, 1238–1273), that the royal residence was established in the Alhambra. 

The craftsmanship and detail took our breaths away.

On January 2, 1492, the last Muslim ruler in Iberia, Emir Muhammad XII of Granada, known as "Boabdil" to the Spanish, surrendered complete control of the Emirate of Granada to Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, Los Reyes Católicos ("the Catholic Monarchs"), after the last battle of the Granada War.

The 1492 surrender of the Kingdom of Granada to the Catholic Monarchs is one of the most significant events in Granada's history as it marks the completion of the Reconquista. The Catholic Monarchs established permanent residency in the Alhambra, and it was here that Christopher Columbus requested royal endorsement for his westward expedition that year.

The views of Granada from the Alhambra are quite dramatic.

We make our way over to the Generalife a garden area attached to the Alhambra, a place of recreation and rest for the Granadan Muslim kings when they wanted to flee the headaches of official life in the Palace.

In one of the gardens we see a pomegranate (in Spanish, granada), the symbol of Granada.

Views and gardens are very relaxing. The kings must have really appreciated the time away from the Alhambra.

You cannot visit the Alhambra without acknowledging Washington Irving.

Shortly after completing a biography of Christopher Columbus in 1828, Washington Irving travelled from Madrid, where he had been staying, to Granada. Inspired by the beauty of Granada and the Alhambra he wrote "Tales of the Alhambra". He has his own room in the Alhambra.

Back on the bus, we make our way to our hotel Sercotel Gran Hotel Luna de Granada. Along the way we pass the snow-capped Sierra Nevada which means "mountain range covered in snow". The rain we had in Seville and Ronda fell as snow in the mountains.

Tonight we have an included dinner at Las Tinajas.

Then we'll need a good night's sleep because we have six hours on the bus and our luggage needs to be out at 8:15 a.m. We're heading to Valencia next with a stop at Guadix-a place where 1/2 the residents live in caves. 

More photos from Granada and Alhambra:

More photos from our adventure:

Nancy Nutile-McMenemy is an Upper Valley freelance photographer and writer who loves to attend concerts and local events in and around Weathersfield and the Upper Valley.

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