Alhambra Apartamentos


Granada wears the jewels of an illustrious past. The Alhambra, perched on a plateau of natural beauty, is testament to the Moors and still dominates the city. From outside, the red fort looks simple, but the interior is an Aladdin’s cave of breathtaking decoration and architecture. It reminds us that when most of Europe was in the throes of the Dark Ages, Islamic Spain was building exquisite palaces. The secret of Moorish skill is intricacy, and its use of water as an art form. Pools reflect the grand designs and physically draw you into the different palaces where carved inscriptions whisper their secrets from a distant past, “Moreover we do not know of any other garden more pleasant in its freshness, more fragrant in its surroundings, or sweeter in the gathering of its fruits ..."
Or sayings, "Be sparse in words and you will go in peace", And blessings, “Rejoice in good fortune, because Allah helps you”.
Probably there is no other place in the world, where gazing upon walls, fountains and ceilings, is like turning the pages of a poetry book. And it should come as no surprise the Alhambra has inspired Western poets and story-tellers ever since the Moors were expelled from their home over 500 years ago.

Like the inscription written on the walls of the Alhambra - “There is nothing so painful as to be blind in Granada” - Francisco Alarcón de Icaza.

For more information about the Alhambra we recommend the official website

Also it is important to organise your tickets early if you wish to visit the Alhambra. You can do this online at Alhambra


The oldest part of Granada is the most interesting. The Albayzín has been populated for nearly three thousand years, first the Iberians, then the Romans and finally the Moors. This was their last refuge in the city until their surrender and subsequent expulsion by the Spanish Crown and Inquisition in the 16th century.
With its cobbled streets, exploring this Moorish maze is a must. But be prepared to get lost. The Albayzín is as hard to navigate as it is to define. Although several Muslim ramparts, cisterns and houses still remain, more are incorporated into the many churches and carmenes (walled villas) built since the re-conquest. However, the flavour of something different persists. Whether the sudden glimpses of the Alhambra across the valley or a garden flourishing behind an iron gate, the Albayzín slowly reveals its secrets.
Smells of the Orient flow along narrow streets where straight is despised, tea houses and spice emporiums hum to an ancient rhythm and a liquorice all-sort of people flutter past, to find a seat in cafes already chock-a-block, church-bells ring, a mosque opens its doors to the faithful, a gypsy strokes a bulería from his guitar and the tourists crowd around the Mirador de San Nicolas to share the sunset with the snowy Sierra and a blood-red Alhambra to frame a picture that has not changed in centuries.


The neighbouring barrio of Sacromonte, literally meaning sacred hill, gave its name to an abbey founded on the side of the Valparaiso valley at the end of the sixteenth century. The story goes that a couple of locals found a cave here with human remains and ancient tablets. These were written in Arabic telling the story of St. Cecilio and his martyrdom in Granada at the hands of the Romans fifteen centuries earlier. The bishop of the time ordered further excavations to find more relics and the so called lead books or plomos.
Controversially, they claimed that St. Cecilio was not in fact Spanish but of Arab descent. Although a Muslim city for 750 years and still surrounded by the symbols of the previous rulers including a substantial Morisco (Christian converts from Islam) population, the Christians were more than happy to put their own spin on the relics which predated the Moors. The discovery of the relics gave the Christians a new sense of civic pride and identity and as the local Catholic Church declared them authentic in 1600, hundreds of crosses had already been erected across the hillside. Sacromonte became a centre of pilgrimage and miracles were reported, however the Vatican demanded the books’ “removal” to Rome for further investigation where shortly afterwards they were condemned as heresy and confiscated by the pope. Fortunately, they were not destroyed only to be returned to Sacromonte Abbey in 2000.
Sacromonte is today still famous for its caves but for an altogether different reason; the centre of gypsy or gitano culture and Flamenco. It is likely that the first inhabitants of the caves were Jews and Muslims forced out of their homes during the Reconquest of Granada in 1492, and thus Sacromonte has always been home to the marginalised. Dug into the limestone hill, the cuevas can be elaborate affairs, as houses, restaurants, bars and even a discotheque. With tens of metres of earth for walls or a roof, they maintain a constant temperature in both winter and summer and acts as soundproofing for the many Flamenco joints which line the main drag, the Camino de Sacromonte.
Although some are quite touristy and the quality of both the food and entertainment questionable, it is possible to still find authentic
Flamenco in Granada. La Chumbera is a flamenco school which has shows every Saturday.

The luminous Alhambra framed the backdrop as the two men started only when there was complete silence. With tilted head, the guitarist tickled the strings while the other clapped, clicked and warbled. They slowed as a small girl strode confidently into the arena wearing a tight, colourful dress. In a flourish of blurring feet, she soon commanded the stage and the viewers' attention. “Ole,” roared the clapper, struggling to keep up with the dancer's early pace. Her hair oiled and scraped, her shiny features entranced in concentration, she battered the boards. Thrusting her hips forward; spinning, inviting and scolding. Near the finale, I feared the wooden platform would give way under the Flamenca's energy.
But, it held firm as she hovered in an emphatic display that defied gravity. I was still sweating when her face relaxed into a broad smile and she was greeted with whoops of applause.

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