Most people can quite easily find the Mirador San Nicolas. This is a good place to view the Alhambra from a distance but can get quite full as tourists are literally bussed in!
If you turn your back on the Alhambra and head diagonally to your right (between the mosque and the church) you should come out in another much nicer plaza that has great food and a food market during the day.
I found this monastery going down the Albaicin from the San Nicolas "mirador". I didn't go in, and don't even know if it's possible to visit it, but seemed to me a really authentic and "lost in time" place...
It's located in nº13, Calle de Santa Isabel La Real.
The Albaicin is located before El Sacromante and the Alhambra, right off of Plaza Nuevo. Its a series of cobbled and narrow streets, and is an old Moorish neighborhood in the city. This was a really fun place to go, you need to be a little careful as there are some seedy characters around, and all of the hash-ish in Granada is sold in this area by mostly Moroccan immigrants.
There are some great Schwarma stands, which are delicious sort of pita wrapped burgers, various hookah (narguile) bars which are a lot of fun , and Granada 10 and Dolce Vita (bars/nightclubs.) Definitely hit up the Albaicin atleast once while in Granada just to get a feel of the area, but I'm sure you'll head back for seconds and thirds if you go in with an open mind!
The Albayzin reminded me of Medinas I had visited in Morocco and Tunisia. It's full of Moorish style cafes and some of the narrow, winding streets, such as Calle Caldererie Nueva, contained shops and cafes normally seen in a medina. While it may have felt North African the prices were more European, especially in the cafes and bars. Nevertheless, it was a fascinating street to explore, and a reminder of just how much visible history there is in Granada.
While wandering around the Albaicin we came across this tiny chapel, the inscription [translated by Carmella] reads
"This chapel was re-built in order to the Charity Master of San Juan de Dios
founder of the Brotherhood of the Hospitality Brothers, paid by Jose Mª Vasco y
Vasco, Knight of the Real Maestranza of Ronda. It finished in September 30th
1880, in the same place was blessed by Archbishop Bienvenido Monzon"
behind the gates is the altar, this is such a tiny little chapel, squeezed in between the buildings, but still cared for and obviously still used and treasured
It seems like every corner you turn in the Albaicin district there is another wonderful gem to discover, we found this little chapel and tried the door, inside it was a haven of peace away from the bustling streets outside
we were alone except for a nun deep in prayer at the altar
the sun was streaming through the small high leaded glass windows making beautiful rainbows on the wall
I have a dear friend who is quite ill, I thought she would like me appreciate the incongruity of this little chapel in the midst of the old Arab quarter so I wanted to light a candle and ask for a blessing for her
alas, no candles here, but putting your coin in the slot lights a little light bulb, we lit three but somehow the lights seemed out of place in this old place, however the words in out hearts were real even if the lights were not
the coins sounded very noisy in the peace of the chapel, but the nun never moved, just carried on with her devotions, and we tried to leave silently
I didnt write down the name of the chapel, if anyone recognises it please let me know
No, I'm not referring to your American Express charge card. I'm talking about bringing along a MAP of Granada.
So, before you go scurrying off to the Albaicin, don't forget to print a copy of this map. And you'd never have to worry about getting lost in the maze-like alleys of the Arab Quarters!
The Albaicín is the old Arabic quarter located on the hill directly opposite the beautiful Alhambra.
This whole area is characterized by its many narrow cobble-stoned streets and alleys with its white washed houses. The Albaicin of today still manages to retain a strong Arabic influence. (The Christian Kings tried to ethnically cleansed the Arabic population over 500 years ago).
There are many squares with terraces and places for you (the weary world traveler currently on your stopover in Granada) to laze about and have a bite to eat.
The Albaicín must surely be a watercolor painter's paradise! And at almost every turn, you can also catch a stunning view of the Alhambra!
If you go to a shop which sells any of the typical granadino pottery (white background with strong blue shapes) you will be sure to read the oft quoted refrain:
"Give him alms woman because there is nothing as bad as being blind in Granada."
Again, not really off the beaten path, but wandering around the Albayzin area should be done with leisure and time and a supply of water. It's usually pretty quiet and HOT. There are wonderful stone decorations in the floors and walkways, and the entrances to the homes are magnificent. Don't do it at night, and always be careful of pickpockets. Take lots of photos!