Granada. So very Moorish!

Granada has long been one of my top bucket list destinations – so a much dreamed of visit finally realised! Principally of course for the Alhambra Palace, but also for Granada’s Moorish architecture and the city’s commanding setting high up in the foothills of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada. It didn’t disappoint in glorious January sunshine.

I hadn’t realised that one of the translations of the word Granada into English is Pomegranate, and then, once there, you start to see Pomegranates everywhere. As the symbol of Granada, Pomegranates feature on the ceramic tiled name plates of city streets, city fire hydrants, council manhole covers, even the city bollards are topped with Pomegranates… the only thing I couldn’t see whilst there in late December were actual Pomegranates. Perhaps I wasn’t looking hard enough.

We stayed in a small boutique hotel, Casa Morisca, a 15th Century riad in the medieval Moorish neighbourhood of Albayzín and looking directly (from our balcony) up at the sprawling Alhambra palace complex high above the river. What a great location! What a view! If you’re looking for an atmospheric place to stay in Granada, right in the historical heart, with a tiled central courtyard, then I can highly recommend this place, its setting is unbeatable!

Albayzín is made up of a maze of narrow medieval Moorish streets that wind around a steep hill directly opposite the Alhambra, with its traditional white-washed houses and walled gardens dating back many centuries. Orange trees bursting with fruit, tinkling Moorish inspired fountains in sun-drenched cobbled squares. In many ways, it feels as if time has stood still in Albayzín, and with glimpses of the Alhambra around every corner, there’s a real sense of history here, and with very few modern-day intrusions, certainly no cars and no coachloads unloading the masses – well in January anyway, possibly the best time to be here actually.

On a blazingly sunny chilly New Year’s Day there was hardly anyone around, but I can only imagine how packed this neighbourhood could be in summer – hot as hell I would imagine too! We discovered an open-air restaurant high up on the hill with unbelievable views back over towards the Alhambra with the snow-capped mountains in the distance and seemingly all of Granada laid out beneath us. A magical spot if ever there was for a traditional Paella lunch washed down with some local Tempranillo.

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