I traveled to so many beautiful places on my Andalucia Trip with Toma and Coe. Seville was a highlight for me which you can read all about here. However, Granada really stood out as well. My guide described this city as “proud, majestic, and more Arabic in character than her neighboring cities” and I couldn’t agree more. There’s so much to see and do in Granada so I was very thankful to have a guide. Here are some of the highlights!
Alhambra & Generalife Gardens:
This stunning 13th century palace is Spain’s most visited tourist site with almost two and a half million visitors a year. I think it goes without saying, but a visit to Granada just isn’t complete without seeing the Alhambra! Here you’ll discover over 800 years of history spread across acres and acres of beautiful land.
It was built by Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar, a Moorish ruler who was a part of the Nasrid Dynasty. This was the last Muslim dynasty in Spain which helps explain all of the Arabic inscriptions and gorgeous Islamic calligraphy carved into the walls of this ancient palace. I loved the breathtaking views of Granada which can be found from almost everywhere. Inside and out, the Alhambra is a feast for the eyes!
You’ll find Generalife just outside the Alhambra walls. This is a wonderfully lush area filled with fountains, walkways, and garden patios. The name itself means “garden of the architect” in Arabic. Back in the day, these were the pleasure gardens of the sultans. Here you’ll find more stunning views of the city and the Alhambra as well. It’s the perfect place to rest and contemplate after seeing the magnificent palace.
The Royal Chapel in Granada was built as a mausoleum in the 1500’s for Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. They wanted to be buried in Granada as it was the scene of their most important victory against the Moors. We visited the royal coffins which rest in the crypt beneath the elaborate Renaissance tombs. This late-Gothic chapel is Granada’s finest Christian building and absolutely worth visiting. Inside, you can also admire the stunning altarpiece and a priceless collection of crown jewels. Some of the jewels include Isabella’s crown and sceptre, along with Ferdinand’s sword!
After finishing the Royal Chapel, you can easily make your way to the Cathedral since it’s built on to the chapel. Although they are in the same structure, you will need two separate tickets but it’s absolutely worth it. The architecture inside and out is one of the finest examples of Spanish Renaissance. The cathedral replaced the city’s mosque as the final expression of the Catholic rehabilitation of the city. From the moment you step inside, you are wow’d by the vast space with it’s giant pillars and beautiful arches. The cathedral has five naves so give yourself plenty of time to explore!
Don’t miss a chance to wander around Albaícin which is the Arabic quarter of Granada. There are so many picturesque streets here, colorful markets, and unbeatable views. In fact, the main purpose of our visit was to admire the views from Mirador De San Nicolás. This is the most popular viewpoint in Granada and it’s easy to see why! You’ll discover stunning views of the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Both locals and tourists love to watch the sunset from here which is absolutely when I’d recommend you visit!
Granada was very memorable for me. While it is a popular tourist destination, it still felt so authentic. Thanks to my wonderful Toma and Coe guide Matt, I enjoyed learning more about Spain’s history and Arabic roots.