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Rustic Blue Holiday Guide to Granada

A city of classical beauty, the unique heritage of two great civilizations, Granada is the jewel in the Spanish Crown …

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The Palaces of La Alhambra and Carlos V Plaza Nueva in the centre of city The gardens of the Generalife Patio de Los Leones in the Alhambra Flamenco in Sacramonte Parque Federico Garcia Lorca Watching the sun go down
Granada
Population

240,000 (but it's double that when the university students are in town)

Altitude

730 metres

Distance from Málaga

134 kilometres

Distance from the Coast

66 kilometres

Patron Saints

San Cecilio, San Juan de Dios and Virgin de las Angustias

Fiesta Dates

The Feast of San Cecilio on the first Sunday in February

Easter Week

Día de La Cruz, 3rd May

Feria de Granada, Corpus Christi week

Celebration of the Virgin de las Angustias on the last Sunday in September

Climate

Winters can be pretty chilly, summers seriously hot. Very low humidity and plenty of sunshine (over 3,000 hours per annum). Best times to visit are in Spring and Autumn

Description

A city which inspires

Below the spectacular backdrop of the snow-covered Sierra Nevada mountains lies a city of classical beauty, the unique heritage of two great civilizations.

As you approach Granada for the first time, you just know you are arriving somewhere special. Soaring high above the city is the spectacular back drop of the snow-covered Sierra Nevada mountains. And what a city lies below! A city of classical beauty, the unique heritage of two great civilizations.

The mesmerising Alhambra Palace and its exquisite gardens, one of the world's greatest wonders; the narrow, cobbled streets and beautiful walled gardens of the ancient Arab quarter, El Albaicín; the magnificent Cathedral, just one of many superb examples of Renaissance architecture; the caves of Sacramonte, nostalgic legacy of the gypsies.

A city which inspired García Lorca, Andalucía's finest poet, and continues to inspire many of the worlds greatest flamenco artists. Among the city's many cultural activities are the International Theatre Festival, Tango Festival, International Jazz Festival and the International Music & Dance Festival, one of the most prestigious musical events in Europe.

Heaven on earth

The mesmerising Alhambra Palace and its exquisite gardens and sumptuous palaces was home to the Arabic Sultans, their vision of heaven on earth.

Above all, a people's city, full of life and colour, energy and fun. As witnessed by the spectacular fiestas, such as 'El Dia de la Cruz' when the entire town is adorned with spring flowers, on patios and balconies, on houses, in shop windows - everywhere - and everyone spills out into the streets dressed in their traditional costumes to dance the night away in a riot of colour, music and merriment.

It's a very special place, Granada, the jewel in the Spanish Crown.

Located at an altitude of 730 metres, just at the point where the Sierra Nevada mountains meet the fertile plain of the Vega at the confluence of the Darro and Genil rivers, the mountains rise up steeply, immediately behind the city. Easy to defend and with a constant supply of water from the snows melting in the high Sierras, the rich soils of the Vega provided a plentiful supply of food.

A people's city

A city of classical beauty, above all it's a people's city, full of life and colour, energy and fun.

First settled by native tribes in prehistoric times, the Romans built their own city here and the Arabs, who invaded the peninsula in the 8th century, gave it its current name of Granada.

In the 9th century the city rose to prominence after the fall of the Caliphate of Córdoba. Under the great Nazrid dynasty the kingdom of Granada stretched from Gibraltar to Murcia. This dynasty bore twenty kings until King Boabdil was forced to surrender Granada to the Catholic monarchs, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, in 1492. It was the last city to fall to the Christians.

During those three preceding centuries, a magnificent and rich Islamic culture flourished here, leaving Granada with architectural marvels which include, of course, the Alhambra Palace, the gardens of the Generalife and the district of Albaicín.

The Alhambra is considered by many to be one of the greatest wonders of the world. A massive castle constructed over many centuries on its hilltop position, it consists of gardens, fortifications and sumptuous palaces and was home to the Arabic Sultans who ruled this vast kingdom. Here they created their vision of heaven on earth. Nowadays it is Spain's most visited monument.

The old Arabic quarter

The Albaicín is characterised by narrow, cobble-stoned streets and passageways, more often than not bedecked with beautiful flowering plants.

The Albaicín is the old Arabic quarter located on a second hill, opposite the Alhambra. It is characterised by narrow, cobble-stoned streets and passageways, more often than not bedecked with beautiful flowering plants. It still retains a a strong Arabic feeling.

There are many squares with terraces and places to laze about or have a bite to eat. The Albaicín is an oil painter's paradise with an attractive view, almost always involving views of the Alhambra, at every turn. At night, when the Alhambra is lit up, it's a view which dreams are made of.

And then there are the gypsies, who arrived about 600 years ago and made their homes in the caves of the Sacromonte. It was the mix of Arabic influence combined with gypsy lifestyle and temperament that created Flamenco.

If you read any of the tourist guides to Granada they will tell you that the Sacromonte is a tourist trap, inviting gullible tourists to see second rate Flamenco performances. Maybe that was true a few years ago and perhaps is still true of some. Whether or not you go to one of these shows, it's an interesting area to take a stroll through, and enjoy a tapa or two or some lunch.

A vibrant nightlife

One of Spain's major university cities, the high numbers of young people have added spice, colour and night life aplenty to the city's appeal.

The main commercial hub of this thriving city spills out on the flat lands immediately below the Albaicín and the Alhambra. The population is somewhere between 250,000 and 350,000 depending on whether or not the students are in residence.

It's one of Spain's major university cities and the high numbers of young people have added spice, colour and night life aplenty to the city's appeal.

All Spanish cities have a vibrant nightlife and Granada is no exception!

It was this lower part of the city which the Christians transformed into a Renaissance-style city with its magnificent Cathedral, built on the site of the Great Mosque, as its centrepiece. When it was finally completed it was considered to be one of the most majestic churches in Christendom, rivalling St. Peter's in Rome.

The jewel in the Spanish Crown

It's a very special place, Granada. As Federico García Lorca, Andalucía's finest poet, wrote "only sighs glide on the waters of Granada".

And there are plenty more superb examples of both Moorish and Renaissance architecture throughout the city, including La Capilla Real, the Royal Chapel, which was built as the mausoleum of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand, the massive Palace of Charles V, an outstanding example of Spanish Renaissance architecture built in the centre of the Alhambra, La Madraza, the Moorish University, the Monastery of La Cartuja and many churches built by Moorish craftsmen after the Reconquest, in Granada's unique "mudéjar" style.

For those who just want to soak up the relaxed style of the city, there are plazas (squares) everywhere with their bars and cafes, flower sellers, bootblacks et al.

There is nothing more pleasant than to have a late morning breakfast of chocolate and churros at a table in the Plaza Bibarrambla, a stone's throw away from the Cathedral.

Or just strolling through the streets filled with fruit, vegetables and spice vendors, as well as chumbos, snails, lottery tickets and fine lace … or through the covered market, El Mercado San Agustín, just off the Gran Vía, where fish and meat are sold.

The best time to visit Granada is in the Spring and Autumn when the temperature is just perfect with warm sunny days. During July and August it can be very hot and some days the temperature reaches 40C. Not surprisingly, this is when the city is at its quietest, the students are away and many residents escape from the city heat to relax at the beach. And in winter it can be distinctly chilly here.

But whatever the time of year, this beautiful city will always enchant. As Federico García Lorca wrote, "only sighs glide on the waters of Granada".

Holiday villas

Holiday villas within an hour's drive of Granada

  • ZM 10 - Sleeps 6 & 2 children

    A classic farmhouse now reborn as a top quality, thoroughly modern home. Set in a glorious pastoral scene with lovely views over rolling, olive dotted hillsides. Ideal for lazy summer holidays by the pool, or an out of season break - the time for walking, cycling or riding to explore this historical landscape.

    from 1,230€ to 1,980€

  • ZL 10 - Sleeps 6 or 10

    Built along the lines of a Moorish palace and conveniently located in the heart of the attractive town, Pinos del Valle, this house is breathtakingly beautiful inside and out. The quality of each and every room in this stylish town house is superb.

    from 1,500€ to 2,400€

  • ZS 12 - Sleeps 8

    Set amongst rolling hills on the edge of the Subbética Natural Park, this attractive, Mediterranean-style villa is a great place for a relaxing holiday. It's also right in the centre of Andalucia, perfect for exploring its many treasures.

    from 1,170€ to 1,530€

  • ZM 34 - Sleeps 2 or 4

    This recently finished, quality holiday home enjoys a completely authentic, rural Andalusian setting, a great place just to ´be´. Great views, charm, comfort, quality furnishings and excellent facilities compliment the peaceful, unhurried lifestyle.

    from 1,110€ to 1,220€

  • ZM 24 - Sleeps 4 or 7

    Perched on a hill within a typically Andalusian setting of rolling hillsides bedecked with olive and cork oak, all is totally peaceful here. Inside, this refurbished country house is spacious and comfortable. A few exotic touches here and there add to its lovely rural charm.

    from 1,150€ to 1,490€

  • ZA 21 - Sleeps 20

    The estate consists of four separate properties: the owner's house and three rental cottages called Bodega, Veleta and Campana. And while not professing to be of high luxury, the ambience is comfortable, light and airy while at the same time being quirky and full of character.

    from 2,870€ to 3,930€

  • ZS 15 - Sleeps 2

    Set amongst rolling hills on the edge of the Subbética Natural Park, this lovely little cottage is a fabulous holiday hideaway for a couple. Here you will enjoy sun, views and sunsets to the full. A great place just to relax, it's also an ideal base for exploring the treasures of Andalucía.

    from 550€ to 590€

  • ZA 16 - Sleeps 9

    This charmingly restored old farmhouse has the most beautiful gardens, complete tranquillity and breathtaking 360º views of Sierra Nevada and the surrounding mountains. A wonderful oasis of magical mountain splendour.

    from 1,620€ to 1,930€

  • ZA 42 - Sleeps 4 or 6

    This attractive property looks out far and wide over the Guadalfeo river valley. Thoughtfully restored, newly fitted-out and pleasingly decorated, it represents one of the prime holiday homes in "Driving Over Lemons" country outside Órgiva.

    from 850€ to 1,300€

  • ZL 25 - Sleeps 6 to 10

    Superbly situated, on a hilltop with stunning 360º views, this converted 19th Century farmhouse is now a beautiful villa which exudes quality, comfort and style. Fabulous countryside all around, it's midway between Granada and the Mediterranean coast, both an easy 30 minute drive away.

    from 1,400€ to 3,900€

  • ZA 43 - Sleeps 4 & a child

    Surrounded by fabulous natural beauty and with Sierra Lújar as a dramatic backdrop, this traditional Alpujarran countryside property has been extended and refurbished throughout. Tasteful and comfortable enough inside, outside it´s heavenly!

    from 680€ to 1,330€

  • ZA 24 - Sleeps 2 or 4

    This lovely cottage is hidden among olive and orange groves in a peaceful, rural location. Very nicely decorated using traditional, rustic colours and touches, it is a perfect retreat from life's hustle and bustle. Lovely gardens and an inviting pool complete an idyllic scene.

    from 690€ to 1,220€

  • ZA 35 - Sleeps 2 or 4

    Sunny and modern, hidden away behind trees, this little cottage enjoys the best of both world's, in the countryside yet just a few minutes walk into town. It's a lovely spot, a place to spend days and evenings outdoors, lounging by and taking dips in the inviting pool.

    from 610€ to 930€

  • ZA 91 - Sleeps 4

    A great little holiday home, neat and pretty inside, this really is a place to enjoy the wonderful outdoor spaces. The garden is really delightful with centenary olive trees growing among orange, lemon, banana, palm, bamboo and other tropical delights.

    from 620€ to 1,050€

  • ZL 111 - Sleeps 8 / 9

    An old farmhouse in a lovely rural location, converted into an intimate country house rental property which remains true to its history and traditions. Wonderfully peaceful and relaxing, it's almost as though the antique and period furnishings have slowed down time itself.

    from 1,810€ to 2,410€

  • ZA 87 - Sleeps 6 to 10 + 4 Children

    This lovely and very neatly renovated, 200 year old farmhouse gleams white and bright in the midst of joyful countryside, its buildings ranging around pretty gardens which overlook the crystal-blue waters of the fabulous swimming pool below.

    from 1,240€ to 2,910€

  • ZA 12 - Sleeps 6 to 10

    This farmhouse, set in lovely gardens, has been completely renovated by its British owners. Inspired by Spain's Moorish past, the attention to detail and design is fantastic. Echoes of Granada's Moroccan style are subtly present almost everywhere you look. It's beautiful.

    from 1,250€ to 2,470€

  • ZM 27 - Sleeps 2 or 4

    Superbly situated on the hillside in its own two acres of grounds, near the little hamlet of Ermita Nueva. There are no near neighbours, just joyous countryside as far as the eye can see! This is a beautiful villa in a lovely Andalusian setting, a real home created with care and passion by its English owners.

    from 750€ to 1,310€

  • ZS 14 - Sleeps 8

    Tourists who bypass this region are missing out because the landscape here is nothing short of spectacular. Specifically designed to be inclusive, this bright villa is suitable for wheelchair users, families with children and all who want to experience a stunning part of Andalucía.

    from 1,500€ to 2,330€

  • ZA 15 - Sleeps 4

    Surrounded by beautiful countryside and enjoying splendid views from its semi-tropical gardens, this restored and extended property offers rustic accommodation in a delightful setting. Relax by the pool, enjoy the perfumed blossoms and take in the views.

    from £590 to £1,170

  • ZA 92 - Sleeps 2 & a child

    Close enough to town to be able to stroll there whenever you feel like it, yet far enough away to enjoy the tranquility of the wonderful nature all around, this is a perfect little holiday hideaway for a couple. It's all very neat, tidy and cheerful.

    from 610€ to 860€

  • ZA 11 - Sleeps 10 plus a child

    This beautifully converted farmhouse offers a rural retreat that´s conveniently close to town. Well-equipped to accommodate a large party, there are plenty of private corners for ´time out´ away from the group too.

    from 1,750€ to 2,280€

  • ZA 77 - Sleeps 4

    In a secluded, rural location in the lower foothills of Las Alpujarras, this purpose-built holiday property has an attractive bungalow-style feel. Neat and bright, it´s a fresh and cheerful little holiday home, ideal for a small family.

    from 550€ to 850€

  • ZS 16 - Sleeps 6

    This delightfully restored house is on the edge of the small village of Fuente del Conde, in a truly privileged setting. A choice of Individually styled terraces offer a multitude of ambiences, whatever your mood, whatever the time of day ... or night.

    from 1,230€ to 2,190€

  • ZM 33 - Sleeps 2 or 4

    This classy villa, in the most delightful of settings achieves an old-time Spanish "hacienda" feel, exuding elegance and grace. The view's fantastic too, across the patchwork of fields below to the mountain ranges of Jaén and Granada far beyond.

    from 680€ to 1,620€

  • ZA 17 - Sleeps 6 to 8

    The house is in the whitewashed and stone style typical of a traditional cortijo cottage of this area, crisp and neat and well maintained. The extensive private gardens are extensive and delightful, making it ideal for a relaxing family holiday.

    from 850€ to 1,300€

  • ZS 11 - Sleeps 12

    You can't fail to be grabbed by a sense of adventure as you approach. Embraced by a beguiling Mediterranean garden this family home couldn't be more perfect for getting you way off the tourist-beaten track and to the heart of that much-touted 'Real Spain'.

    2,400€

  • ZS 23 - Sleeps 18 to 24

    Now a fabulous, interior-designed villa for a group of friends or family wishing to holiday together, this superbly restored olive mill is unique, a wonderful place to stay. In the heart of Andalucía, here you are perfectly placed to visit the great cities, beaches, mountains and ski slopes.

    from 3,830€ to 4,860€

  • ZL 112 - Sleeps 16 to 34

    A superbly converted marquess' mansion, accommodation of the very highest quality in a spectacular location between Granada and the sea. There's a tennis court, ornamental gardens, a chapel and much more. A jewel of Andalusian architecture, it exudes understated luxury and very grand style.

    from 4,675 to 13,025€

More photos

More photos of Granada

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