Granada, the home of the most visited sight in Spain
Русская версия Last week Nastya succeeded in making her way from the eternal Estonian cold to summer – the city of Granada in the south of Spain. As it turned out, Granada is not only good for the sun baths, but also for sightseeing; it is actually the home to the most visited sight of Spain – the Alhambra Palace.
History of Granada.
Granada is so rich in sights not by occasion. The reason is in its history: the city is mentioned as Ibero-Celtic settlement 500 B.C. These and probably also earlier settlers chose this place for the town since is well protected by the mountains from all the sides and has very fertile lands. Later, the region came under Byzantine, Vandal, Visigoths, Moors, and Berbers. The Muslim dynasties of Zirids and Nasrids (10-14 centuries) made the town one of the most thriving in the region; a lot of architectural masterpieces from their times are still preserved.
Yet, in the 15 century, when Granada was taken by Spanish monarchs, the time for the Christian peace came. The Muslims were persecuted and the Jews were banned from the town. Catholics were burning the Islam books, destroying Muslims’ masterpieces and organizing riots for the massacre of non-Christian people. After that, the significance of Granada lowered, especially due to the fact that it lost the status of the capital of the independent state.
The interest towards Granada was rekindled only when the university opened in 1531, still one of the most prestigious in Spain (before the town had had the Muslim educational institution Medrese, founded in 1349) as well as the development of tourism after the death of Franko.
The main thing for the tourist to remember when visiting Granada is that it preserved a large amount of the Muslim architecture, which is definitely worth a look. Most of the sights are concentrated in the city center. First and foremost, this is the Medresewhich used to be the first educational institution in Granada.
Corral del Carbon is the oldest building preserved from the Arabic times. They used it to keep grains and coal as well as to provide the passing-by merchants with the inn service. The fountain in the center of the monument is a part of water-pipe system built about a thousand years ago, in Islamic times. The town has a lot of objects still nurtured by this water-supply system.
Alcaiceria – is a traditional Arabic shopping street in Andalucia; this one burned in the 19th century and was restored later.
Another Arabic sight is Cuarto Real de Santo Domingo – the place where Muslims got together for the Ramadan celebration. By the way, Jewish quarters surrounded the palace, and the Christians banned the Jews from them later.
The city is full of Christian sights too. For instance, catholic Capilla Real became the place of burial for several Spanish monarchs.
In the center of the city, there is a monument to Mariana Pineida, a Spanish liberalist heroine persecuted in the 19th century for her political actions and views.
Another later edifice is the city government building.
In the very center, there is Catedral Santa María de la Encarnación, today more of a place for tourists and young people to hang out.
Granada seems to be the city for hanging out in general, remember that this is the student town. People show up when it becomes dark. Spanish people go to sleep late.
In addition, and this is certainly shocking for northern countries, there are pomegranates and tangerines growing in the city streets.
Yet, Granada is also the home place of the most visited sight in Spain – the palace of Alhambra, built in the 14th century as a residence of Nasrids. After Christians conquered Granada, Spanish king Carl V partially demolished the palace to build his own residence. Out of respect to this king, Spanish authorities are still not initiating the excavations here.
Make sure you book the ticket to Alhambra in advance through the Internet, otherwise you do not have a chance to get here. The crowds of tourists are huge. That is why the floor in Alhambra was exchanged to the modern one, while the ancient floor is preserved in the museum. The reason is very simple: if 10000 tourists visiting Alhambra daily walk on the ancient floor, how long will it last?
The complex is indeed huge, so plan several hours or even the whole day to visit it. Alhambra started to be built from the citadel of Alcazaba.
The palace of Nasrids consists of three monumental sets: Mexuar (the meeting place), Comares (the official residence), and Court of the Lions (private apartments), with a number of smaller yards, rooms and tunnels. One may walk here forever.
Gardens and alleys connect various buildings.
There are still excavations held here.
The travelers may even stay in Alhambra, in the hotel on some reason called Amerika.
The palace opens up a great view at Albaicín and Sacramonte – former Moor and Roma quarters. These houses built on the hill often have a cave as one of the walls which is highly appreciated at the real estate market.
In addition, Alhambra now includes the palace of Carl V, yet, Nastya did not have time to make her way there.
Make sure you have at least two days for Granada! There are many more places there worth a visit, such as Albaicín, Sacramonte, archeology museum, observatory and even a scientific park.
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