Granada is a special place. Nestled on the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, it has a glorious past as the last city to fall to the Reconquest. Its main attraction, the Alhambra, a medieval Moorish palace built on top of the hill of Assabica, is one of the most impressive piece of architecture I have ever seen. I’ve had the privilege to visit some amazing monuments over the past 10 years from the white marble-clad Taj Mahal to the temples of Angor Wat, to the grand mosque of Cairo, Istanbul, and Damascus, and ancient wonders of Petra, Machu Picchu, and Giza, but the Alhambra is definitely my favourite. You cannot beat the level of detail and masterful craftsmanship.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that you should allow at least one full day to visit the fortress complex and vast maze-like gardens. Brilliant use of light, space, and water, the Alhambra does not disappoint with its masterful craftsmanship using modest materials. Divided into three main parts: the Royal Palace, the fortress of Alcazaba, and the Medina. The core of Alhambra is the Royal Palace, masterfully designed with delicate arches, intricate carvings, patterns, and inscriptions on plaster are absolutely stunning. Jaw-dropping gorgeous – photos do not do it justice.
A stark contrast to the dazzling Royal Palace, the Alcazaba is simple military fortress of high walls and bell towers overlooking the city of Granada. Further afield is the summer palace of Nasrid kings known as the Generalife, a tranquil oasis of manicured gardens and fountains. One very useful advice: be sure to buy your tickets in advance especially during the high season and reserve the morning session as the heat becomes unbearable.
When we weren’t enthralled by beautiful palaces and Gothic cathedrals, our stomachs were in for a treat as Granada is the last Spanish city to offer free tapas with each drink. The tapas gets better with each successive round of drinks. Don’t be surprised to receive a tasty plate of gambas al ajillo (shrimp) or punta del solomillo (pork). Cheers to that.
If you need a break from tapas, head over the medieval neighbourhood of Albaicin for a glass of mint tea, kebab, and sugary-dose of baklava. You’ll feel like you’re in Morocco thanks to labyrinth of narrow alleyways, Middle Eastern restaurants, and the smell of sheesha.
If you need to burn off some calories from your nth albondigas (meatballs), hike up to Mirador de San Nicolas for unbeatable views of the Alhambra behind the beautiful backdrop of the Sierra Nevada. It’s the perfect place to for alfresco drinks or an apertif whilst gazing over the sunset.
From Granada, it was on to the seaside town of Malaga for two days of beach, sun, and more tapas. Our trip to Andalucia was long time in coming, but this was an extra special trip as Keenan and I got to enjoy it with our favorite (and only) little sister. Hope she enjoyed the trip as much as we did.