I think Granada is the perfect city to learn Spanish. As its not a huge city I felt safe to travel there alone to do an intensive course there for around 3 weeks.
In the end I chose a language school in the heart of Granada called Escuela Delengua where I was placed in a class which suited my Spanish level. The brilliant thing was that I had my classes in the morning and in the afternoons I was able to experience all that Granada has to offer! Myself and other students visited all the cultural sites of Granada such as the Alhambra and Albayzín, we experienced the Spanish lifestyle with tapas trips and flamenco shows. Furthermore, we could go on trips at the weekend to other cities within Andalusia such as Córdoba, la Costa Tropical and Sevilla!
The school arranged all these activities so it was so easy to fit in everything I wanted to do in Granada in the time I was there, and my Spanish improved dramatically with the excellent teaching!
Come here directly after visiting the Nasrid Palaces on your tour of the Alhambra. It'll help you to bring the place to life. You'll find an interesting collection of furniture, pottery, money, clothing, scientific instruments and other objects that were used as part of daily life in the palaces during the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. The fabulous blue and gold ceramic Jarre las Gacelas, or Alhambra Vase, is the showpiece item. You'll find it on the ground floor of Palacio de Carlos V (Carlos V's Palace).
You'll probably have seen pictures or postcards of the Patio de los Leones (Patio of the Lions). It's one of the most common images of the Alhambra and forms the centerpiece of this palace. It's surrounded by four buildings which make up the heart of the Harem, where the sultan and his closest family lived: Sala de los Abencerrajes (Hall of the Abencerrajes), Sala de dos Hermanas (Hall of the Two Sisters), Sala de los Reyes (Hall of the Kings) and Sala de los Mozárabes (Hall of the Mozárabes). The Hall of the Kings contains some unique paintings on leather believed to represent the images of Nasrid Sultans
The Golden Room is hidden in the Nasrid Palace. I gained access to this room by going through a small door with a horseshoe arch just off of the three arched portico. Entrance wa was so tight that only one person at a time can pass through it at a time. Inside is a magnificent room decorated by Muhammad V. The room was used by officials of the Sultan to carry out his daily tasks and orders. There is a gorgeous wood like ceiling that appears to be mahogany. It was repainted and redecorated by the Catholic Monarchs years later. The room contains several evidences of their rule including the yoke and arrows on the walls.
After walking through the Washington Irving Room on the Nasrid Palace, and at the back of the Mexuar you enter a long hall with several portals of great views of the Albayzin. Stop and look out and you can clearly see a small pack of tourists at the San Nicolas viewpoint. Look further up the hill and you can see the remainder of the old Moorish Wall that was built in the 1400's to protect the town from invasion. If you look way far out to the right you can even see the neighborhoods of Sacromonte. This was a definitely a nice place to stop and look out at the Albyazin and imagine what is was like to live in this area of the palace.
According to one of the official Alhambra sites this area is also called the Oratory. It was restored in 1917 after being damaged by an explosion over 300 years prior. The front wall has four little balconies, with twin arches and small windows. There are several inscriptions on the wall that praise Mohammed V and quote verses from the Koran.
From one side of the Watch Tower you can look down below at what appears to either be a series of foundations or an elaborate water system. This area is called Arms Square or Plaza de Armas. it was the original entrance to the Alcazaba. It is best viewed from on the top of the watch tower because down below it is hard to determine exactly what it was.
The area was intended to provide basic water and even bathing services for the residents of the time. There is evidence of a cistern on one side of the Plaza. More recently archaeologists have determined that there were several Arab house foundations on the site. In some cases they date back more than 700 years.
Arriving at the entrance to the Palace of the Lions I was disappointed to find that so much construction work was taking place at the site. I asked one of the security staff how long the construction might take and he said that it might to early 2013 but he also told me that this reconstruction has been going for many years. Update: March, 2013- According to the Granada's Conservation web site the work at the Patio of the Lions is being undertaken; to restore the fountain and to be able to recreate the original water flow in the fountain. Work will continue indefinitely.
The Palace of the Lions according to one of the more trusted web sites was built under Mohammed IV. It was to be at the time the private chambers of the royal family. The patio opens up to several galleries and the columns look almost as if they were designed to resemble Christian cloisters. The pictures here focus in on the patio as opposed to the magnificent interior work. There are many superb galleries and rooms that feed off this patio including the Hall of the Two Kings, the Hall of the Two Sisters, and the Hall of the Macarbe.
Like the Court of the Myrtles this site always draws a lot of lookers. With the construction going on it took a while to get a clear shot.
There have been some changes to where and how you can buy tickets to the Alhambra over the last two years so it useful to review the options;
TICKET PURCHASE OPTIONS
Ticketmaster over the Internet- Ticketmaster.es can be either pretty quick or ridiculously slow. What I liked is that the days and times available were clear even if it was disappointing how few tickets were left.
Through La Caixa ATM's- Within the last two years LaCaixa bank has taken over bank tickets sales from BBVA, Spain's second largest bank. There are over 40 La Caixa ATM's that are bright yellow and easy to use all throughout Granada.
Alhambra Store- Tickets can be purchased at the Alhambra Store on Calle Reyes Católicos nº 40, in Granada.
Phone: In Spain: 902 88 80 01/ Phone Abroad: (34) 93 4923750. Tried this and you can't always get someone who speaks English.
Day Tickets- This ticket allows you to get in to Nasrid Palace, at a specific time, Generalife, and all the other sites at the Alhambra. Day tickets are divided into two general times; from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m; and from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Afternoon hours are shorter during the winter.
Night Tickets- There are night tickets either to Nasrid Palaces or to the Generalife Gardens. Your ticket allows you to enter only one sight during the evening hours. Check the website for hours during the various seasons of the year.
Blue Circular Pass: This ticket allows you to enter the Nasrid Palace at night and the Generalife Gardens during the day.
Hiking up the Albayzin can be a strenuous climb due to the steep grades and cobblestone streets. There are also few guideposts to you specifically direct you to the plaza so for some arriving at the plaza is akin to navigating a labyrinth. However when you reach San Nicolas Plaza the journey all seems to be worth it. The square is not large and appears to be set out in white sandstone cobbles. There are many view points out to the Alhambra and benches to sit down on and enjoy the view.
There are a small herd of merchants selling wares and one or two people playing instruments. We went at mid day in May and there were many people who were there taking pictures of the Alhambra or themselves. San Nicolas Plaza can also be reached by city mini-buses that stop just outside of the plaza.
There are many towers that comprise the Alhambra but the most spectacular is the Comares or sometimes called Torre de Camores. It is also the highest tower standing at approximately 45 meters. The tower was where the last Moorish ruler Bobadil surrendered the city to the Christian monarchs.
Standing at the San Nicolas viewpoint in Albayzin the tower appears as a huge fortification of the Alhambra. With my binoculars I could see lots of detail in the tower that is not visible to the eye from touring the Alhambra. The tower has many stained glass windows that allow a great deal of light into the halls that are part of the Comares. All four sides of the Comares are richly decorated and on at least two of the sides there are numerous gargoyles.
Our visit to the Nasrid Palaces was relatively late in the afternoon on a sunny May day. As a planner and architect I had been familiar with this and a few other of the palaces of the Alhambra. However seeing it I was struck by both the magnificence and simplicity of it at the same time.
The palace derives its name from the myrtle bushes that are planted on each side of the pond. The myrtle bushes provide sharp contrast to the white marble walkway that is adjacent. The pool which drew my eyes upon first site serves several purposes here. It provides a crystal mirror by which the other structures are outlined in the water as well as providing a stark contrast to the features of the building towering above the pool.
This is one of many palaces in the Nasrid that draw large numbers of tourists waiting to both gape at the beauty and record it on film. My advice is to be patient.
Sitting 2000 feet above sea level, at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains GRANADA is a city full of romance and was the last stronghold of Moorish Spain. Grenada itself sits on two hill tops, the Alhambra and the Albaicin. The city's location make it a wonderful place to visit. In Spanish, granada means pomegranate and this fruit is the symbol of the city.
The Crypt of Fray Leopoldo Alpendeire is the second most visited monument in Granada, located in the Convent of the Capuchins in Granada, although the dates on which is most visited is the 9th of each month or February when he died, and is remembered affection and devotion because his life was dedicated to the request for alms to help the needy of Granada.
La Cripta de Fray Leopoldo de Alpendeire es el segundo monumento más visitado en Granada, ubicado en el Convento de los Capuchinos de Granada, aunque las fechas en que es más visitada es el 9 de cada mes o febrero cuando murió, y que es recordado con cariño y devoción porque su vida la dedicó a la petición de limosnas para socorrer a los necesitados de Granada.
The Construction of the basilica began in 1617, under the direction of Juan Luis Ortega. Its facade is flanked by two tall towers with spiers covered with glazed tiles, and on the cover, which houses a shrine "Pieta" of Bernardo and Jose de Mora. Every September 15 is celebrated floral offering to the Virgin
La construcción de la basilica comenzó en 1617, bajo la dirección de Juan Luís Ortega. Su fachada está flanqueada por dos altas torres con chapiteles cubiertos de tejas vidriadas, y sobre la portada, hornacina que acoge una "Piedad" de Bernardo y José de Mora. Cada 15 de Septiembre se celebra la ofrenda floral a la virgen de las angustias.
The Church founded by the Franciscan Third Order in 1534, in the place where a hermitage. After the secularization of 1835, the monastery became a Capuchin nuns who received it as compensation to the demolition of the convent they had in the Place de la Romanilla.
La Iglesia fundada por los Franciscanos Terciarios en el año 1534, en el lugar donde se encontraba una ermita. Tras la exclaustración de 1835, el convento pasó a las monjas Capuchinas que lo recibieron como compensación al derribo del convento que tenían en la plaza de la Romanilla.
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