I lived in Granada during the summer of 2000 because I studied abroad, through UCLA, and attended La Universidad de Granada. Life there was mellow and the siesta was honored everyday which meant after lunch I’d go back to my room and take a nap. Siesta time was a great time to go sight seeing even though almost every business was closed. I recall doing that once and it only served to reinforce how much I love to nap, something I attribute to my wife who took me under her wing and educated me in the art of napping! Hotel Los Tilos, overlooking Plaza Bib Rambla, was home throughout my entire stay in Granada rooming with my Bruin colleague Jesse who preferred Burger King, McDonald’s and Pizza Hut to the daily free Spanish lunch we were provided. He managed to eat tapas, paella and I think he had a falafel from an Arab stand with me once. We’re still good friends to this day and I hope his palate has upgraded from processed American chains at least when it comes to travelling. My routine was simple during the week. I had continental breakfast, walked to the university, attended classes, had typical Spanish lunch at Hotel Las Nieves, back to my room to nap, study for a few hours and convince Jesse to walk around and explore. Most weekends we went on nearby excursions with the entire program.
Granada is full of culture and history which includes 781 years of Moorish rule. Moors were Islamic inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula with North African, Arab, and Berber backgrounds. Moors essentially brought Arab and North African influence to modern day Spain and is evident from the architecture to the cuisine. Moorish influence is everywhere and culminates at La Alhambra, which was a Moorish palace and fortress that still stands today. Gypsies roam the streets with olive branches ready to inform you of your future and eager to collect your money. The barrio of Sacramonte has long been a gypsy haven with homes etched into the mountain side like hobbit style caves. Moreover, Granada is ultimately Spanish with the Cathedral anchored at the center of the city and Andalusian pride floating through its air.
La Alhambra. The last Moorish stronghold in the Iberian Peninsula. A Moorish palace with unprecedented beauty and architecture. A fortress strategically built atop a hill to defend its city but its days were numbered. January 2, 1492 the last Moorish King of Granada, Boabdil, surrenders the city to the army of Fernando and Isabella. With the surrender the Moors are pushed south and expelled out of the peninsula. It is here at La Alhambra where the Italian Cristoforo Colombo, aka Christopher Columbus, convinced the Spanish monarchs Isabella and Fernando to finance his trip to India which landed him in the Bahamas on an island that he named San Salvador. It is unsure today which island that exactly is.
La Alhambra is much more than the financing of Columbus' fiasco that accidentally led him to the Americas and truly believing he "discovered" it! There is gorgeous architecture and unimaginable attention to detail that is sure to take anybody's breath away. The palace is lined with lush, serene gardens on the way to El Palacio de Generalife, the summer palace which sits adjacent to La Alhambra. Within La Alhambra also lies El Palacio de Carlos V, aka Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor of Spain. It is a palace constructed by him in 1527 to become a permanent residence which has since served for Spanish royalty.
Plaza Nueva was initially built to cover the Rio Darro and have more city. Apparently it has seen its share of history from public exections to bullfights. Today its a nice open area to stroll around, souvenir shop and decide which outdoor eatery to sit at. It lies just under the hill where La Alhambra is and gives you nice views of looking up at the palace. The picture is of the Royal Chancellery which dates back to 1530 and part of it was designed by Diego de Siloé. Although no longer a Chancellery, today it serves as the main building of the Andalusian High Court of Justice.