Vamos a Granada, ¿Vale?

28 Sep

I have now been in Alicante for exactly a month.  Where has time gone?!  As much as I am absolutely in love with my host city, I am very happy that I have finally now been able to experience another region in Spain.  This past weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to the lovely Granada.  If you have ever heard anything about this city, two things should immediately come to mind:  Tapas and La Alhambra.

Here’s a brief overview of tapas.  Basically, they are what the US would consider an appetizer.  Common tapas include tortilla Espanola, olives, pinchos, carne en salsa (I highly recommend!), jamón, etc.  In Granada, it is very typical that when you order a drink, you receive a free tapa—excellent deal, right?!  What’s really interesting about it is that the word “tapa” is actually Spanish for “lid”, derived from the verb tapar (to cover).    Apparently, back in the day when you were served your bebida and tapa, your plate would be placed above your drink that way insects couldn’t get into it.   This actually makes perfect sense since it is very common for Spaniards to dine outside on the terrace.

If you ever decide to plan a trip to Granada, I have an excellent tapas bar to recommend to you:  Cruzcampo.  It is right next to the Plaza de Toros, and let me tell you, the tapas are beyond fantastic.  This bar not only has excellent food, but it’s also CHEAP.  For a drink and a tapa (which also includes a side of chips), the cost is only 2 Euro or less.  How can you even beat a deal like that?  Not to mention, it’s a lively and friendly atmosphere.  Locals are willing to talk to you, the bartender is fantastic, and there’s even a TV for watching Spain’s favorite pastime, futbol.

So enough about the amazing food, let’s talk about the breathtaking Alhambra.  As you may or may not know, the Alhambra has both Christian and Arabic influences, and the two sides are easily distinguishable by the differences in the architecture.   The Arabic influence is perhaps what it is most known for.  It was constructed in the 14th century by the Moorish.  However, after the Reconquista by the Reyes Catolicos in 1492, some portions were then used by Christian rulers (hence, the influence from both sides).  Interestingly enough, I was most impressed by the Arabic architecture.  In one of the rooms in the palace, the walls are inscribed with an Arabic phrase that translates to “There is no other god than Allah”.   Not only is the architecture itself intricate and detailed, the ceramic tile that is found throughout the palace is also quite impressive.  Due to the fact that it was constructed in the 14th century, our tour guide made it known that it was extremely difficult to have made beautiful ceramic tile back then—in fact, nearly impossible due to lack of materials.  This just lets you know how much time and effort was put into this beautiful place.

Another breathtaking part of the Alhambra is the Garden of Generalife.  I have never seen such beautiful flowers, fountains, sculptures, and mazes.  I couldn’t stop taking pictures, actually.  Although I am quite fond of documenting everything I see…  However, in all seriousness, it truly is amazing to see the intricate layout of the gardens, and to feel the peaceful aura of serenity that it gives off.

The Leones of La Alhambra are also very significant.  They are symbols of both strength and courage, as well as a very unique example of Muslim art.  Currently, they have been moved to a different room from the original location to allow time for restoration.  Apparently, they had been weathered to the point of being nearly and completely destroyed.  Since they are a significant part of the water system in the Alhambra, it was imperative that they were saved.   The restoration process began two years ago, and will eventually be returned to their original location.

Words alone cannot explain the history and beauty of La Alhambra—or all of Granada, actually.  If you haven’t already, I suggest “googling it” in order to view some magnificent pictures—it’s definitely worth it.  However, if possible, I suggest simply coming to see it for yourself 🙂

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