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Your guide to Granada
All About Granada
Moorish architecture and decorative tiles abound in Granada, an ancient city in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia, once known as al-Andalus. Muslim culture flourished here between the 11th and late 15th centuries, and the sprawling palaces and gardens of the Alhambra are the jewel in the city’s crown. From its ochre-hued ramparts, you can see the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range across the jumble of tiled rooftops.
Down in the heart of the old town, the cobbled streets are lined with buildings tinted soft shades of lemon, pink, and orange, and after nightfall the sounds of hundreds of conversations erupt from lively tapas bars where legs of crimson jamón ibérico hang on the walls. At the city’s heart is the soaring facade of Granada Cathedral, built in the 16th century. The University of Granada, almost 500 years old, brings thousands of students to town every year, and the campus quarter is lively with cafes and bars. In the streets of whitewashed houses that wind up the hillside in the Albaicín district, the old Moorish quarter, you can spend many hours browsing the stalls selling spices and stopping in at intimate teahouses.
The best time to stay in a holiday rental in Granada
The climate in southern Spain is generally warm and dry, but Granada is more than 700 metres above sea level and can get quite cold in the winter. The hottest summer months are July and August, while the period from November to January can see temperatures drop to freezing at night and is more likely to be cloudy or rainy. The most advisable time to stay in apartments in Granada for comfortable temperatures is in the spring, with autumn a close runner-up.
Granada’s calendar is packed with festivals, particularly colourful religious celebrations such as Holy Week, when traditional Easter processions wend through the streets. On 2 January, thousands of locals celebrate Día de la Toma (Day of the Taking), when Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand conquered the last Muslim ruler in Andalusia in 1492.
Top things to do in Granada
Mirador San Nicolás
Granada has many miradors, or viewpoints, but to capture an iconic photograph of the city and its famous Alhambra, the place to go is Mirador San Nicolás. Climb up through the historic Albaicín neighbourhood, either first thing in the morning or before sunset, for breathtaking vistas. The more accessible Mirador de San Cristóbal, slightly to the north, also has beautiful views over the city.
Monastery of San Jerónimo
This monastery was built at the beginning of the 16th century for the Hieronymite religious order, and the peaceful cloisters and awe-inspiring Renaissance interior are some of Granada’s hidden treasures. The fragrance of orange trees and the sound of fountains in the gardens contrast starkly with the altarpiece inside — a riot of sculpture and painted decoration, with every inch covered in golden embellishment.
Flamenco music and dancing have been a vital part of Andalusian culture for centuries, and Granada is no exception, with many bars and less formal venues showcasing the tradition. From an atmospheric, vaulted performance space in the Sacromonte neighbourhood to lively bars in the Albaicín, the absorbing shows are often accompanied by tapas served in traditional terracotta dishes.