Jumat, 12 September 2008

Granada, Alhambra and Beyond

By Edward Kirwan

Granada, in the east of Andalusía, is a city steeped in Moorish tradition. The Alhambra Palace which was recently short listed as a Seventh Wonder of the New World, is truly wondrous but there is so much more to see and do.

The last stronghold of the Arabic/Moorish kings, Granada has retained and celebrates much of its ancient history. A bustling city, it happily combines the old with the new. It can be enjoyed largely on foot using the Gran Via as your central point. Stroll in the tranquil Gardens of Triunfo, gaze at the Hospital Real and the Carthusian Monastery. Take in the glorious Gothic style Royal Chapel and renaissance Cathedral where Isabel and Ferdinand are entombed. You will be sure to find an eatery to your liking among the many atmospheric restaurants, cafes and bars. Happily, unlike much of modern Spain, Granada's bars still offer generous free tapas.

The old Moorish Quarter, the Albaycin, offers narrow shaded streets and is an ideal maze to explore. From the Plaza Larga you can take a stroll along the walls of the Alcazaba de Cadima to the main ancient gateway, the Puerta de Elvira. From Saint Cristobel Mirador de San Nicholas you can gaze upon the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada beyond.

The Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and marks the beginning of the Nasrid Dynasty, under Mohammed Ibn Alhamar in the 11th Century. It graciously overlooks the city of Granada and the vast surrounding lands. This great fortress-cum-palace is easily accessible by car, bus or for the stouter among us, on foot. No visit to Granada is complete without experiencing the magnificent Royal Palace and the Genaralife's well kept gardens.

Granada also acts as a centre for visiting the Sierra Nevada some 75km distant. The area offers full winter sports facilities, walking tours, cycling, horse trekking and many more activities besides. This is truly an adventurer's paradise. The ancient whitewashed villages of the Alpujarras, famed for the Lanjaron water and more recently, Chris Stewart's book "Driving over Lemons", lie to the southeast. Among these, Trevelez lays claim to being the highest village in all of Spain.

From Granada it is possible to ski in the morning and swim in the sea in the afternoon. If this is for you, head south to the lesser known Costa Tropical, an hour's drive away. It has quiet sandy coves and beaches stretched along the craggy coastline between the Almeria and Malaga provincial borders. Many of these beaches are barely accessible by car but well worth the effort of reaching them. Among these are large, dedicated naturist's areas.

For those that like to take things a little easier, La Herradura (meaning "horseshoe"), Almuncecar, with all popular facilities, Salobrena, with its castle and Motril for its easy yet working town demeanor are all worth visiting.(forget visiting the port). For sailors and scuba-divers the well maintained and expanding Marina del Este (between Almunecar and La Herradura) provides excellent facilities in a secluded and tranquil setting.

Venturing away from the Mediterranean and to the east of Granada, lies the intriguing troglodyte town of Gaudix. Having sandstone as a natural resource, half the town's population live in caves. And yes, you can stay there. To the northwest lies the old fortified town of Moclin with its magnificent views, one of the last Moorish strongholds before Granada fell to the Christians in 1495. Further afield, to the southeast you can enjoy the relaxing spas of Alhama de Granada.

Granada is easily accessible by air from its newly upgraded international airport to the west of the city. The modern road infrastructure allows easy access to your destination by car or bus. Granada both ancient and modern is there to be enjoyed.

1 komentar:

nenu02 mengatakan...

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