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Granada: A Vibrant Mix Of Moorish, Christian And Jewish Influences

Jun 8, 2008
Holiday accommodation options are unique in Granada with the possibility to stay in the luxurious Alhambra Palace Hotel, pensions in the old Arab-Jewish quarter orconverted gypsy cave houses.

Granada is situated in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains where the three rivers, the Beiro, the Darro and the Genil converge. It is said that if you have time to visit only one city in Spain, Granada should be the one. Its natural beauty and fascinating history make it a popular tourist destination for all cultures.

Granada was ruled by the Moors until the late 15th century, when it was surrendered to the Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand II and Isabella I. There was also a strong Jewish presence in the city until the Alhambra decree was enforced and the new rulers expelled all of the Jews from Spain in 1492. There is much evidence remaining today of Granada's Moorish and Jewish past, but many churches were built in the Moorish areas and the Jewish areas were leveled in order to build new Christian neighborhoods.

When visiting Granada, you cannot miss the "Jewel of Moorish Spain," the Alhambra. The Alhambra is a Moorish citadel and palace. Its building began in the 13th century, but it evolved over time with new construction and developments. Its site is home to the Alcazaba (the military fortress), the Palacios Nazaries (the stunning Nasrid royal palaces), the Generalife Gardens (which contain many exquisite gardens, fountains and patios of Moorish style) and the Medina (the Moorish town containing the workshops of craftsmen, houses and baths).

There are many plazas, as well as a botanical garden within the city that are worth a visit. Churches are in abundance in the area and their architecture tells much about the history of the city. Try to visit the Church of Santos Justo and Pastor, as well as the hospital and church of San Juan de Dios. The hospital patios and staircase above are outstanding to view. Make sure that you spend some time in the notable districts of Granada such as the historic old quarter, the Realjo district, El Albaicin and the Sacromonte area.

Other popular landmarks in the city of Granada include the historic Moorish baths that date back around 1,000 years, Murallas del Albayzin which are the remains of the surrounding wall of Granada, the Palacio del Mexuar which is an ancient palace of a wealthy sultan and the Mirador de san Nicolas. From here you will be rewarded with a stunning view of the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

There are a number of different accommodation options in Granada. You can stay in anything from the luxurious Alhambra Palace Hotel to a gypsy cave. There are plenty of five, four and three star hotels to choose from, as well as hostals and pensions. Pensions in the old Arab-Jewish quarter of Albaicin are a popular choice among tourists for their charming mix between modern facilities and old-style courtyards. Youth hostels are also available if you are happy to share a room.

Self-catering holiday rental apartment can be found around the city. The gypsy cave houses can be found in the area of El Sacromonte. They have been converted into self-catering apartments and provide a unique opportunity for tourists.
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