Madly Moorish Albaicin
Favourite thing about Granada ( apart from the Alhambra) ? Definitely the Albaicin which I set off in search of the minute I arrived in Granada. In search of mystery and history I shot up Reyes Catolicos, ignoring the cathedral and the market place, hell bent on losing myself in the maze of steep winding streets, squares and alleyways that make up the World Heritage Site of the Albaicin. Starting from Plaza Nueva I climbed up a short hill with stars patterned on the cobbles and turned left. Here, just a short way beyond the Santa Ana Church are the Banos Arabes Al Andalus and a definite indication that you are entering the Moorish quarter. This little street of Santa Ana is really picturesque and you can carry on to the end then cross over the small bridge which brings you out on Carrera del Darro.Here there are lots of mansions which have definitely seen better days but are still very impressive. One of these, Casa de Castril at no. 41 is actually the city's Archeological Museum and is free to holders of EU passports. Turning away from the river ( which is more like a mill stream than a river ) passing the church of San Juan de los Reyes, you eventually arrive at the Plaza Larga and then to the Mirador de San Nicolas From here you have the best view in town of the Alhambra and when you've finished 'oohing and aahing 'you can head back down towards Calle de Elvira crisscrossing from one street and plaza to another as you go. The Albaicin has far too many buildings of specific interest to mention here but just wandering and absorbing the atmosphere is all you need to do. It's not as sinister or mysterious as I imagined it would be and parts of it are quite commercialised but you will definitely be glad you came.
Lorca and Granada
Apart from Moorish and Catholic rulers, the poetry and story of Federico Garcia Lorca plays a large part in the appeal and mystique of Granada. His story brings us to a more recent phase of Granada's history and reminders that more people were killed here during the Spanish Civil War than in any other part of the country. Lorca himself, poet, Republican and homosexual was targeted by the Falangists and murdered outside of the city in 1936. Although Granada did not protect him when he needed it, Lorca's memory is now finally getting the acclaim it deserves and income from his devotees substantially bumps up the coffers of tourism. His birthplace, Huerta de San Vicente is now a museum and this is open to the public at a very minimal cost. Free guided tours are given throughout the day. If you want a more detailed overview of Lorca's life in Granada you can pay to join one of the specialist tours which retrace his steps and chronicle the main events of his short life. Reading some of Lorca's poetry before you visit makes it very easy to tune into the aspect of Granada that seems melancholy and brooding. If you click on the photograph, you will get the details necesary to book one ot the Lorca tours.
"The river Guadalquiver
has a pomegranate beard.
Two rivers in Granada
one of snow, the other of blood."
F. G. Lorca
This is a photo of my student, Noelia dressed in the typical dress of the women during Semana Santa (Holy Week: which is the week before Easter).
The men dress in hoods which British or Americans will associate with the KKK.
Go for a Moorish bath! I can't...
Go for a Moorish bath! I can't remember the name of the place but it's right off the main plaza by the road to the Alhambra. The baths don't date from Moorish times, but they look like they could. You alternate between the hot and the cold water--very invigorating. Then you get a massage. Don't forget your bathing suit!
The Sacromonte Scene. Flamenco and more!
If you want to see an authentic flamenco show during your stay in Andalucia this is the place to go. Remember Flamenco is really a gypsy art form and here in Sacromonte is the place where all the gypsies live. So if you want to hear men playing Flamenco and singing or the women in the traditional flamenco dresses dancing come here! Sacromonte is full of places to choose from all along the main Road into Sacromonte. You are spoilt for choice. There are also Flamenco guitar and dancing lessons available in the area if you fancy giving it a try yourself! Try the School on Venta de Gallo 5.
The gypsies came to Andalucia in the 15th century and flamenco was well on its way as an art form by the late 18th century.
The guitar was invented in Andalucia which was influenced by the Arabic 5 string lute. In the 1790’s a sixth string was added allegedly by a guitar maker from Cádiz called Pagés.
Other Flamenco centres in Spain are: Sevilla, Jerez and Cádiz.
If you have never heard Flamenco music before it is very earthy, emotional and powerful. You either hate it, respect it or love it! Anyway, if you are in the south you should try and see a show or go to a peña. Of course if you go to any feria (see my Feria tip on my Spain page) you’ll hear Sevillana folk music which is very similar and see all the Spaniards dressed in gypsy dresses dancing.
Tarantos: Camino de Sacromonte 9 (958 22 45 25 or 958 22 24 92)