The Gardens of Jannat al-'Arif inside Alhambra in Granada

Andalusia is a wonderful land. It is the warmest and most passionate region of Spain and there are born all the traditions most felt by the Spaniards, such as flamenco, bullfighting and tapas. Andalusia is the land of the magnificent Alhambra in Granada, the most famous building in Spain with Jannat al-'Arif, but also the mosques and Moorish palaces of Cordoba, the Picasso museum in Malaga, the beaches of the Costa del Sol and the Costa de la Luz. There are the Sierra Nevada mountains and its natural parks. In Andalusia there are the most characteristic and lively festivals in the country, such as the Semana Santa in Seville, the capital of the Region.

Founded by the Romans under the name Illibris, Granada stands at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, at the confluence of two rivers: the Darro, a tributary of the Genil, and the Genil itself. We reach it by bus at a cost of 25 euros each way, which takes about 3 hours.

Immediately, as soon as we arrive we realize that we have underestimated the city. We only have 4 hours and 30 mins to visit it and the things to see seem endless! I tell you already that is a flaw and a very high cost and the city requires a lot of time for the visit because it is really beautiful. So the program chosen by us is not the best. If you go in the day you start early in the morning and you already plan to take the last bus of the evening. But the ideal is to sleep them one night.

Returning to us we do not get discouraged and start from the center of the city. We visit the Souk: a network of dense alleyways that meet with each other between squares and craft shops and spices, really lovely. Here I buy the Granada, which I will try at home, very good! It is not an Arab neighborhood but what remains of the ancient Arab "souk" of the city. Even today the streets of this quadrilateral are those of the ancient souk, only the buildings that have been built in Spanish-style stone rather than Arabic have changed over the centuries.

It is the only souk present on European soil. Zoco is pronounced in Spanish. There are a lot of souvenir shops but also shops and shops typical of the Maghreb souks. The cathedral is silhouetted around these streets. The Catholic Kings wanted the construction of a cathedral, on the site of the great Nasrid mosque in Granada.



Because of the lack of time we decide to have lunch take away in a small fry/deli where with 7 euros per person we enjoy a mixed frying cone, fish balls and calamari omelette. We also take the gazpacho another local specialty, paella and cous cous. The owner Tere shows us her mother's photo and explains that it is from her that she learned the trade. It's good to see how here on the contrary to many other places, people and shopkeepers are relaxed and never in a hurry. All explain, they help you (strictly in Spanish eh) the frenzy is not for them! Sometimes they are too slow and when you go into the store instead of serving you if I spoke to you or were talking on the phone! It would be unthinkable here!

After this refreshing lunch we also give ourselves a typical sweetie in a bakery: taste the famous piononos, the pope's sweets, famous in Santa Fe. Here all the desserts are rich in spices and honey, I love them! The Arab influences in the kitchen, in architecture and in craftsmanship are felt and seen!

Eating while walking we can take the C3 bus to the main attraction of the city to the al-hambra palatial complex. Etymologically, Alhambra in Arabic translates as al-Ḥamrā (the Red), since its full name was Qal'at al-ḥamrā' (Red Citadel). The Alhambra is a true walled city (medina) that occupies most of the Sabika hill. While for its part Granada benefited from another system of protective walls. Therefore the Alhambra could work independently of Granada. In the Alhambra there were all the proper services necessary for the inhabitants who lived there with mosques, schools, shops and more.

It was built in 1238 by Muḥammad ibn Naṣr called al-Ḥamar, The Red, because he had a reddish beard. He had the first nucleus of the building built. His son Muhammad II subsequently strengthened him.

In 1492, with the conquest of Granada by the Catholic Kings, the Alhambra became the royal palace of the Kings of Spain and this saved the complex from the destruction suffered by many other Islamic monuments following the Reconquista. Adjacent to the complex of Alhambra we find the palace and the gardens of Palacio de Generalife (Arabic: Jannat al-'Arif - Architect's Garden) which was the summer residence of the Nasrid sultans. Both monumental complexes were declared by the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Committee in 1984. We visit under a scorching sun the two attractions with a single ticket of only 14 euros. The view of the city, the mountains of Sierra Nevada and the Albaicin neighborhood (our next stop) from up there is beautiful.

Immediately after the Alhambra we go by bus C1 towards the Albaicin district. Unfortunately, time is short and for the visit there is less than half an hour. The Albaicín has preserved the narrow streets, the courtyards with trees and flowers, the terraces, the cisterns and the public fountains dating back to the past medieval dominion of the Moors. It stands on the hill in front of the Alhambra, from which it is separated from the river Darro.

During the long Arab-Berber and Jewish domination the moment of maximum splendor lived, reaching about 60 thousand inhabitants and 26 mosques. The district has a marked Arab imprint and owes its name to the Arabs of the city of Jaén (bayyasīn, i.e. those of Baeza) who moved en masse to Granada after surrendering to the Christian troops of Ferdinand III. Points of interest within the neighborhood include the remains of a complex of Arab baths in Granada, the archaeological museum of Granada, the church of San Salvador built on the ruins of a mosque and the Mirador of St. Nicolás, which allows a spectacular view of the Alhambra.

And that's where we leave the bus. Having little time is the best place to take some pictures and visit the church in the square, crowded with street artists and musicians. A truly unique place! Unfortunately, the time has expired. We agree that the Lac, the bus to the bus station, can not bring us in time so we stop a taxi and without even spending so much we reach the station. We did it. We leave again in to the direction of Seville.

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