Spain: A traveler’s choice. Its history and main attractions.

Spain: A traveler’s choice. Its history and main attractions.

The city is located in a fertile valley, on the banks of the river Genil. It is famous for its historical and architectural monuments (the Alhambra, the Gardens of Jeralife, the Cathedral).

Granada is considered the city of romantics and poets. Standing on three hills, it attracts tourists with its tranquility and solitude. From here you can see the snow-capped peaks of the mountains. Because Granada has belonged to the Arabs for eight centuries, it has acquired a peaceful and elegant Muslim culture.

If you pay attention, you may notice that in some streets there are still caravans of pack donkeys driven by medieval carriage drivers…

In the old, austere courtyards you can find locals taking their time sipping tea. Throughout the city, tea establishments are opening, holding tea ceremonies to match the Arabian ones. This is especially noticeable in one of Granada’s oldest neighborhoods, the Albaycín. There you can find narrow, Istanbul-like streets.

Even near here you will visit real caves paved with old, gypsy stone, on which the townspeople dance Andalusian flamenco and beautiful gypsy dances.

Granada, Spain is a traveler's choice. History and highlights

Granada, Spain is a traveler’s choice. History and main attractions


The history of the emergence of Granada is mysterious like no other. You can still find echoes of legends that the city was founded by the biblical Noah or the Greek hero Hercules. The settlement, first called Iliberry, was founded by the Turduli, and then, around the 1st or 2nd century BC, it was conquered by the Romans. Rome renamed the town in time to Iliberis.

Traditions and any documents confirming the full history of the city have been lost. All that remains of those times are medals and coins, through which it can be understood that the settlement was the capital of the province. Soon, Iliberis merged with Granada, which was located nearby.

The Muslims began their conquest of the area as far back as 711 . A huge army of mercenary warriors received these territories as a gift for participating in a military campaign. At first, they took the news with hostility, not realizing what the city would bring them in the future.

Iliberis became known as Elvira. For long 8 centuries, two dynasties ruled here – the Zirid and the Nasrid. In 1013 Elvira became the capital of the kingdom. The Nasrid dynasty erected the Alhambra. Because of Granada’s convenient geographical location for defense, the Arabs’ government stayed here for a very long time. Only in 1492 did the Christian dynasty of Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand the Second return the city to their rule, thus ending the Reconquista.

Due to the persecution of the Muslims who remained living in the city, many branches of the economy were undermined. The silk industry suffered the greatest loss. The number of inhabitants decreased by as much as 70,000. However, thanks to the return to the Kingdom of Spain, Granada gained the right to vote in the government, which gave additional conditions for development.

The further history of the city is rather sad. A reduction in the number of inhabitants due to natural disasters, brutally extinguished riots by the king’s soldiers, the general decline of the country’s economy, the expulsion of the Moriscos (Muslims who forcibly adopted Christianity, but secretly continued to believe in Allah) – all this led to the fact that in the 16th century there were only 39 thousand inhabitants.

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Granada, Spain is a traveler's choice. History and highlights

History of the city

Restoration of Granada

It was not until the 18th century that Granada slowly began to recover. Construction resumed and the reconstruction of old, dilapidated buildings continued. The silk industry and its processing rose again. The city was slightly affected by Napoleon’s troops, who occupied it. The French brought both destruction and art. The Cervantes Theater is famous to this day. The development of the sugar industry and the railroad finally built, gave a new impetus to prosperity. The dismantling of old monasteries and deserted mosques began. This enriched the city, for in parallel with the demolition of the buildings there was a sale of unneeded property from these temples. Granada lost a lot of its architectural image due to an earthquake in 1884, the largest in its history.

In the 19th century, the city changed for the better, changing its appearance by taking some of the architecture from both France and England. Old quarters were rebuilt, making the city more modern.

The 20th century was marked by the Civil War and Franco’s rule. During this time, the city became an important part of the dictator’s empire, as it consisted mostly of workers. As it continued to grow in length (stretching along the river, farther south), Granada became a battleground for new areas suitable for building new neighborhoods. The new neighborhoods that bordered Ronda were populated mostly by young people, students.

Modern Granada is famous for its music and dance festivals, attracting many people every year. It is an ideal place for international events and festivals. Come and spend your holidays in Granada and you won’t regret one bit as you experience the rare atmosphere of a city that still feels the fusion of great cultures to this day.

Granada, Spain is a traveler's choice. History and highlights

Restoration of Granada


Granada (Spain) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main sights of Granada with descriptions, travel guides and maps.

City of Granada

Granada is a city in the south of Spain and the capital of the province of the same name. It is one of the oldest cities in the country, located in eastern Andalusia at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Granada is the former capital of the Moorish kingdom and one of the last Arabs’ strongholds on the Iberian Peninsula. Therefore, the legacy of the Moorish period can be found on almost every corner, and the city itself has a special oriental charm. Granada is the soul of Andalusia. A city that combines several cultures, with a rich historical heritage and something for everyone.

Things to do (Granada):

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The Legends of the Moorish Quarter of the Albaycin

Geography and climate

Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain system between two hills divided by the Darro River valley. The Sierra Nevada is one of the highest mountains of the Pyrenees and Europe. Some of the mountain peaks are more than 3 km high. There are ski slopes on the slopes. Granada is located 433 km from Madrid, 454 km from Cadiz, 128 km from Málaga and 251 km from Seville.

The panorama of Granada

Panorama of Granada

The region offers a great variety of climates and landscapes: from the alpine vegetation of the Sierra Nevada to the tropical coast. Such natural contrasts may not be found anywhere else in the Iberian Peninsula. Granada’s climate is transitional between Mediterranean and cold semi-arid. Summers are dry and hot, while winters are cool. The average annual temperature is 14 degrees. The highest rainfall is recorded in November, March and April.

The snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada

The Sierra Nevada Mountains of Granada

Tourist Information

  1. The population is 232.8 thousand people.
  2. The area – 88 square kilometers.
  3. The language is Spanish. Although the local population can speak a dialect of Andalusian, which is difficult to understand even for the Spaniards. There is much more Arabic influence in this dialect. At the same time, speakers often interrupt the end of the word and immediately move on to the next.
  4. The currency is the euro.
  5. Visa – Schengen.
  6. The time is Central European UTC +1, in summer +2.
  7. The Tourist Information Center is located at: Plaza del Carmen, 9 (City Hall).
  8. Buses run from 7:00 to 24:00.
  9. Tips are usually included in the bill.
  10. Most stores (except large chain stores) are open from 10:00 to 13:30 (14:00) and 16:30 (17:00) to 20:30 (21:00). Stores are closed on Sundays and holidays.
  11. Restaurants and cafes usually serve dinner after 8 p.m.

Best times to visit.

Granada can be visited all year round. But still the most comfortable time is spring and autumn. In summer, despite the heat of the day, the nights are often quite cool.


Granada is one of the oldest cities in Spain. There was already a Phoenician settlement here in the 5th century BC. After the arrival of the Romans on the Pyrenees, the city of Iliberra was founded here, which was conquered after the fall of the Roman Empire, first by the Vandals, later by the Byzantines, and then by the Visigoths.

In 711 Granada was conquered by the Moors. During this period the city was called in the Arab manner – Ilbira. The Arabs laid out a new city in 756, and the old one was called Calat Garnata. This name was later transformed into the modern name of Granada. After the fall of Cordoba, the city became one of the most prosperous in Andalusia.



In 1492 Granada became part of the Kingdom of Castile. Interestingly, until then the city remained the last Muslim stronghold on the Pyrenees. In 1531 a university was founded. After the conquest of Granada by the Christians, the old mosques were rebuilt into churches. The architectural appearance of the city was also changed and some of its historical heritage from the Moorish period was destroyed. Then the city did not experience significant changes until the mid-19th century. This was caused by natural disasters and economic decline. Granada’s further development was helped by the Industrial Revolution and industrialization, which halted after the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s accession to power.

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The Alhambra World Heritage Site

The Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

How to get there

Granada has a small airport located 12 km west of the city. Many more destinations are served by Malaga airport. Regular buses run from Seville, Malaga, Madrid and Cordoba. There are also trains to Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia twice a day. Málaga would be a convenient transfer point if there are no direct routes to Granada.

Panorama of the city

Panorama of the city


The main shopping area is the Puerta Real square and neighboring streets. In the Alcaiceria area, south of the cathedral, you can buy souvenirs. Many souvenir stores are located on Cuesta de Gomerez on the way to the Alhambra.

Granada streets

The streets of Granada

The gastronomy of Granada is a mix of traditional Andalusian, Spanish and Arabic cuisine. Oriental influences are noticeable in the use of spices. The main regional dishes are beans with ham, tortilla sacromonte, Andalusian gazpacho with garlic, and fried sardines (mostly on the coast).

Many places in Granada serve tapas for free with a drink. Eating here is fairly inexpensive. Almost every square or ancient street has cute outdoor restaurants and cafes with good food. Many inexpensive establishments can be found in the area of San Miguel Bajo Square.

If you want to try the local wine, ask for “un costa”. Another option is “tinto de verano” or summer wine. Granada brews an excellent beer – Cerveza Alhambra, which is found everywhere. It is definitely worth trying tea in the teahouses in the Moorish quarter of Albaycín.

At night on the streets of the historic center of Granada

At night in the streets of Granada’s historic center


In Granada, you can find sights that are amazing in their scope, history and architecture. And chief among them is the Alhambra.



The Alhambra is the jewel and the most famous landmark of Granada, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This majestic medieval complex stands on top of a hill against the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada. The Alhambra is the last Moorish fortress in Europe, which reflects the greatness of the Moorish civilization in Andalusia and offers the visitor a look at the magnificent ornate architecture, lush gardens, beautiful fountains and spectacular panoramas of the city.

The Alhambra was the palace, fortress and main residence of the Nasrid dynasty who ruled Granada for over two centuries. The construction of this huge complex dates back to the 13th-14th century.

Diagram of Alhambra

Diagram of the Alhambra

The Alhambra is a vast architectural complex that can be roughly divided into four groups of buildings. To fully appreciate the unique architecture and scale, it is advisable to first view the complex from afar.



The Alcazaba is the original Moorish fortress of the 13th century and the oldest structure in the Alhambra. The towers, parts of the walls, ramparts and fragments of the outbuildings are what remains of the fortress. There are excellent views of almost the entire city and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

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Nasrid Palaces

Nasrid Palaces

The Nasrid Palaces are the most splendid buildings in the complex in typical Arab architecture. Here you can see impressive arches and windows, carved wooden ceilings, intricate plasterwork and colorful ceramic tiles at almost every turn. The rich interior of the halls and the cozy courtyards are striking.

Charles V Palace

Charles V Palace

Charles V Palace is a sixteenth-century building commissioned after the Reconquest by Charles V as a royal residence. The square two-tiered structure is in Renaissance style with a large circular courtyard surrounded by an internal colonnade. The building houses two museums: the Alhambra Museum and the Museum of Art.



The Generalife is the former country residence of the emirs of Granada. It is the most beautiful complex of Moorish-style gardens in Andalusia, situated on a hill at the back of the complex overlooking the Nasrid Palace. The Generalife is filled with shady patios, fountains, fragrant flowers and picturesque terraces.



Albaicín is one of the most charming sights in Granada, a historic Arab quarter that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the narrow and winding streets of the Albaycin can be found beautiful white-washed old buildings, magnificent Arab stores and restaurants, picturesque gardens and magnificent views of Granada and the Alhambra. The construction of the quarter dates back to the 14th century. At that time, it was surrounded by fortress walls. It’s easy to get lost in the Albaycín. You’ll find that the layout of the streets, the many staircases and alleyways are literally confusing. But there is a special charm to it!

Puerta de Elvira

Puerta de Elvira

From Puerta Nueva to Puerta Monaita, a section of the old fortress walls remains. The Puerta de Elvira was once the main entrance to the city. Their construction dates back to the 9th century.

San Jose Church

Church of San José

The Church of San José is one of the oldest churches in Granada. It was built on the site of an ancient mosque of the Morabites.

San Nicolas Church

Church of San Nicolas

San Nicolas Square is located in the heart of the Albaycín. It is the most popular tourist spot and offers a beautiful view of the Alhambra. On the square is the 16th century church of the same name. Not far from the church of San Nicolas is the church of San Salvador, which was built on the site of an earlier mosque and is notable for its mudejar style.

Larga Square

Larga Square

Larga Square is a small, charming square in Albaycín, one of the favorite places of Granada’s residents, which is located away from the tourist trails. There are many restaurants and stores with traditional goods, and on Saturdays there is a market.

Carrera del Darro

Carrera del Darro

Carrera del Darro is one of the oldest and most charming streets in the city, located at the foot of the hill. The narrow, winding street runs from Plaza Nueva along the winding course of the Darro River. This is one of the most picturesque walks in Granada. Along the way you will find beautifully preserved buildings, the remains of Arab houses, stone bridges and many good restaurants.

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The gypsy neighborhood of Sacramonte, located on the hillside, rivals Albaycín in atmosphere. It is worth a stroll along its slopes to discover ancient gypsy houses that are decorated with colorful handmade ceramics. The surrounding area contains numerous cave dwellings.

San Miguel Church

San Miguel Church

We recommend going up to the chapel of San Miguel, which offers a beautiful view of the city and the Alhambra. This church was built in the 17th century in the Baroque style. Another notable religious monument is the 17th-century Benedictine abbey on the hill of Valparaiso.



The Cathedral or Santa María de la Encarnación is considered the most beautiful Renaissance church in Spain. It was built by Queen Isabella as a monument to Christian victory over the Moors on the site of a former mosque. The church began to be built in the 16th century in the Gothic style. There is a remarkable large relief on the 16th-century western facade above the main entrance. The northwest side of the cathedral is also richly decorated with decorative sculptures. The facade of the main entrance features statues of Catholic monarchs and bronze statues of the apostles.

The decoration of the church is a magnificent example of the Renaissance and Renaissance. The interior features massive columns and double aisles. The nave and transept are surrounded by various chapels, which are decorated with many sculptures and paintings. Each has its own artistic style. The choir boasts two impressive baroque organs.

Royal Chapel

Royal Chapel

The Royal Chapel is an impressive 47-meter dome structure that sits next to the cathedral. This addition to it was built in the first half of the 16th century in the late Gothic style. The royal tombs are located here. The interior is decorated with beautiful 16th century stained glass windows and seven large paintings by Alonso Cano. On the right is the tomb of Ferdinand and Isabella in Carrara marble, created by sculptor Domenico Fancelli of Florence. The chapel also houses the sarcophagi of other kings and princes. The highlight of the chapel is the sacristy with a masterpiece by Botticelli.

La Cortuja Monastery

La Cortuja Monastery

The Convent of La Cortuja is a magnificent example of Baroque architecture. Construction began in the 16th century and lasted for three centuries. The single aisle church is decorated with numerous objects of art.

Arab Market

Arab market

The Arab Spice Market is a traditional oriental market in the old city. Until 1853 there was a Moorish bazaar on this site which was destroyed by fire. The entire area of Alcaiceria is a maze of narrow streets, which was once occupied by a silk and spice market. Today’s market resembles the original Arab bazaar and is a favorite place to buy souvenirs in Granada.

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