We took a fascinating, adventurous and gorgeous trip back to Granada and the Sierra Nevadas of Spain. Just like last time we really enjoyed Granada. There is so much unique culture in one place. Amanda and I agree it’s our #1 recommended spot to visit in Spain and it’s one of my favorite cities in Europe to visit.
It’s only about 1 hour in a tiny blue car to Granada from our house in Nerja! It’s fun to jam on the freeway and look down to see the speedometer at 130 (km/hr that is). Then, after marveling as we walk through the Alhambra, exploring the many caves of Sacramonte, watching the sunset with a beer in hand from a cave bar, and enjoying the odd but delicious tea, silly hookah bar, colorful knick knack markets, and African food of the Albaycin, we continued on to the mountains!
It’s a 40 minute drive in a red lining little car in 2nd gear up to the ski resort of the Spanish Sierra Nevadas. It’s way up there and it’s an amazing view from the top! We took a great hike up to we think around 12,000 feet.
Then… We decided to take the long way home. That means a curvy, dirt road filled, trip about 5 hours down, around, up and over the mountains and then back to Nerja. It was worth every bit. Gorgeous and way too much fun.
We saw a huge damn, a fake stag on a rock off a dirt road that tricked us for too long, the most amazing fall colors I’ve ever seen, and interesting geology similar to a mini grand canyon at times.
Granada is an amazingly diverse and fascinating city. It’s definitely the city in Spain I’d recommend visiting the most from where I’ve been.
We only spent two days here, but we’re planning on going back soon as it’s only a short bus trip from Nerja where we are now.
The Moors from north Africa ruled much of Spain for a really long time, especially the southern region of Andalusia. Granada was a capital and cultural center of the Moors in Spain and one of the last strongholds before the Spanish pushed Moorish control (and Muslim religion) out of Spain in the reconquest ending in 1492 (A familiar year and a good one for Spain for a few reasons).
In downtown Granada there are five main areas:
1) The Alhambra is a massive and intricate castle on the hillside taking up a big chunk of the city center. This was the Islamic palace when the Moors ruled from about 700 until 1500. It’s incredible. We weren’t able to go inside as tickets sell out months in advance, but we’re hoping to get in next time we go.
2) Albayzin – the Islamic region with lots of cool architecture, colors, winding alleys meant to make it hard to push the Muslims out by authorities, and delicious food.
3) Sacromonte – the gypsy part of town built in white caves into the hills above the city with fantastic views, supposedly the best flamenco around, and really cool houses!
4) Realejo – Jewish part of town with lots of residential areas we didn’t explore much (yet).
5) New Town – there is a main street and pretty much once you cross it everything gets “new” which means something like less than 300-400 years old :) The majority is a nice modern city with all the usual including some cool parks.
Having all of this existing seemingly at peace in one city is awesome. Oh, and the Serra Nevadas are really big mountains covered in snow looming over town to the southwest. Highly recommended.