Catedral & Capilla Real
|Granada Cathedral interior|
In the Royal Chapel are buried the Reyes Católicos (“Catholic Monarchs”), better known in English as Ferdinand and Isabella. Yep, the same Ferdinand and Isabella whose marriage united the crowns of Castilla and Aragón to form the kingdom of Spain; who financed Columbus’ journey to the Americas; who completed the “reconquest” of the Iberian peninsula, which ended when they got Granada; and who attempted to enforce religious purity by expelling all the Jews and Muslims from the country. Beneath the lavish Gothic mausoleum rest their plain, lead coffins. It was a very surreal experience to pass by the resting place of two of the most important figures in Spanish and world history.
The Albaicín neighborhood & Moroccan tea
One night, Ashley and Reina—friends of mine who also visited the city that weekend—and I were walking through this neighborhood’s main street when it began to lightly rain. I think it was at this point that I realized how true many of my Spanish friends were when they called the city “magical.” The air was fresh and slightly warm, and even though there were a lot of people walking to and fro, it was remarkably quiet. When I looked up to the right—bam!—there was the Alhambra castle, illuminated in reds, oranges, and yellows.
|Church of San Gil y Santa Ana|
Parque de las CienciasI had no idea Granada even had a science museum (“Park of the Sciences”), but my friends were saying it looked like a really cool place to visit so I agreed to go. I didn’t leave starstruck like I did from the Alhambra (see below), but I enjoyed this relatively-recent addition to Granada’s offerings.
In the middle of the whole museum complex is a tall tower with an egg-shaped observation deck. We went up the elevator and were treated to great views of the city center, the Alhambra, and all the nearby suburbs. Granada is big, y’all.
|Parque de las Ciencias|
|Eating a pomegranate in Granada|
While in the restaurant, I cut into a pomegranate I had bought a few hours earlier and felt sooooo clever eating it in Granada. Why, you ask? Well, the Spanish word for the pomegranate fruit is granada, spelled just like the city’s name. The words come from two different sources, but because they just so happen to sound and be spelled the same way, the pomegranate has become the symbol of the city. I wanted to eat this most Spanish of fruits at least once, and was happy to have that dream come true. </cheesiness>
|Patio of the Lions, Nasrid Palaces|
In the hostel I stayed at, I met a Brazilian novelist named Thiago who was living in Madrid for a spell. After talking, we realized we were both going to the Alhambra the next day, so we decided to get up super early and hike across town to visit the site together. After all, the ticket stand opens up at eight in the morning, and there’s only a limited number of tickets for the protected area of the monument.
|Plasterwork, Nasrid Palaces|
Outside was the Palacio de Carlos V (Palace of Charles V). This is a perfectly-proportioned Renaissance building constructed during the reign of, you guessed it, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (Charles I of Spain). There was a Museo de Bellas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts) free for European residents on the first floor, but I didn’t feel like paying the nominal entrance fee so I wandered around for a few minutes before heading out; I just wasn’t that excited about it. Like the cathedral part of the Mosque-Cathedral in Córdoba, this palace felt out of place among all the other Moorish-era architecture.
|Alcazaba, La Alhambra|
According to the official site map, the Generalife was a palace and set of gardens for the kings of Granada whenever “they wanted to flee from the official life of the palace.” The name comes from the Arabic Jannat al-‘Arif, which means “the architect’s gardens.” The Lonely Planet guidebook calls this a “coda to most people’s visits,” which I think best describes it. After the aesthetically-overwhelming Nasrid Palaces, the Generalife (pronounced [xe.ne.ɾaˈli.fe] “hay-nay-rah-LEE-fay”) was a pleasant set of gardens and rooms built in a similar style to the rest of the Alhambra below.
|Generalife, La Alhambra|
Question: If you’ve visited Granada before, what was your favorite part of the city? Were you awed or blah’d by the Alhambra? Talk about it below!
For more pictures, check out my set on Flickr here.