Granada, Spain retains Moorish influences

Located at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Granada was the last stronghold of Moorish royalty who escaped to the area to avoid enemies, but in gentler times escaped to the area to avoid the summer heat. 

 If you are interested in avoiding the heat, or gravitating to warmer climes when the weather turns cold, GetAway Travel can help you plan that perfect trip. Granada has some stunning examples of medieval architecture, you can indulge in tapas and Sierra Nevada Park has Europe’s most southern ski resort. 

 Citadel, palaces reflect historic legacy 

 Between 1248 and 1354, during the occupation of Spain, Muslim kings left their mark on the area. Their citadels, or fortresses, were built on high ground to allow them to surveil the cities. When Catholic monarchs drove the Moors out, many palaces and mosques were demolished and new buildings erected on their foundations.  

 Alhambra, or Red Castle, is renowned for its Islamic legacy even though some of the palace had been revamped by the monarchs. 

 It is actually a compound with several palaces. Some wings of the original palace were torn down and a church was built on the site of the original mosque. There are two museums on the grounds. 

 The buildings showcase the interior building skills of the Moors as well as the amazing landscape prowess. There is stucco decorations, carved wooden ceilings, elegant tile work, inlaid cedar ceilings, star-shaped skylights and domed leather lined ceilings. There is an elaborate lion fountain in one of the patios and water “roars” out of the mouths of the 12 lions. 

Court of the Lions, Palacios Nazaries

Generalife Place in the same complex, was the sultan’s summer palace and it has shaded pathways, patios, pools, fountains, gardens and a shaded staircase with channeled water that runs down each side. 

Granada Cathedral is the fourth largest cathedral in the world. It is a stunning example of Spanish renaissance architecture. Built by Queen Isabella on the site of a mosque after the conquest of Granada, it is as impressive inside as it is outside.  

 There are several chapels inside as well as a grand altar. 

The cathedral, as well as other sites in the inner city are not accessible by car. The town center Is secure and is accessible only by bus, taxi or on foot. 

 Albayzin as well as Alhambra are UNESCO sites due to their historic significance. You can walk the neighborhood of Albayzin. The complicated street plan of alleys and walkways is flanked by tall, white townhouses decorated with hand-painted Moorish tiles. 

Science, tapas and shopping 

 The Parque de las Ciencias or Science Park is located in Granada. It is a gigantic, interactive museum with seven halls featuring permanent exhibits as well as areas with temporary exhibits. One of the most popular permanent exhibits is the “Journey into the Human Body.” It shows how various parts of the body work and interact with each other. Play the gamma wave mind game and check out the Planetarium exhibit which has 110 projectors reproducing a sky of 7,000 stars. 

 There’s a cultural gallery, library, science-themed play area for children and in the green space outside, there’s a butterfly and birds of prey exhibit as well as an observation tower. 

If you walk in Albayzin, or virtually anywhere in Granada, you’ll find small tapas bars. Get a drink and get a free tapa! Traditional tapas feature beans and ham as well as fish, eggplant and seafood. Gazpacho as well as omelets with sweetbreads and ham are local delicacies. This area of Spain is famous for cured ham. 

Cured in the altitudes of the Alpujarras Mountains, it is not something you should skip while in Granada. You can’t take tapas home, so be sure to eat plenty while you are there.

 Alcaiceria is where you can shop. Formerly Granada’s Grand Bazaar, it uses to be several streets of shops where area residents could stock up on silks and other items. Now it is one street of shops. If you want to take home something authentic for yourself, Moorish style earthenware, called Fajalanza is hand painted with blue or green plant motifs. Pick up intricately inlaid boxes or trays decorated with small mosaic pieces of different wood, shell or bone. The painstaking technique of matching small delicate decorative items into a space is called marquetry. There are local wines, chocolate, biscuits, Moroccan mint or orange blossom infused teas and beauty products made with honey or olive oil. 

Planning a trip can be a daunting task, but the travel advisors at GetAway Travel can take the stress of planning away and make sure you get your shopping, touring and — relaxing accomplished. Call (262) 538-2140, e-mail: sue@getaway.travel 

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