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Weekend Hotspot – Granada Spain

Granada, the capital of the Andalusia region in Spain, is one of the most highly recommended tourist destinations in the country.  While the city is famous for tapas and flamenco it is also home to "Alhambra" an UNESCO architectural marvel widely recognized as one of the finest of its kind the world. The palace designs, mosaics and sweeping views across the city and surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains are breathtaking. A fortress that was converted to a palace in 1333, Spain's number one tourist attraction has enchanted tourists for decades. Created originally for military purposes, it was an alcazaba (fortress), an alcázar (palace) and a small medina (city), all in one. Surrounded by woods, gardens and orchards, its magnificent buildings were the home of the Nasrid sultans, who ruled Granada from 1232 to 1492. The name Alhambra comes from an Arabic root, which means red or crimson castle. The Alcazaba (the citadel) is the oldest part of the building.

Generalife comprises of a decadent renovated villa, surrounded by lush landscaped gardens. Rows of fountains, gorgeous pathways, patios, and picturesque ponds add to the charm of the area. Nasrid Palace wows tourists with its architectural splendour, colourful tiles and intricate designs. Getting Alhambra tickets can be a complicated affair so be sure to book your tickets well in advance as they sell out quickly.  On the hill top nearby is the old Arab-Jewish quarter of Albaicin - a honeycomb of cobbled streets, whitewashed houses, plazas and historic buildings. The Carrera del Darro and the Paseo de los Tristes are some of the most beautiful places in Granada, next to the River Darro, crossed by two stone bridges. They offer stunning views of the Alhambra. Plaza Nueva is located next to the Carrera del Darro and is the oldest square in Granada.

   

The other major attraction is the Cathedral which was built on the site of the former Great Mosque. It has an imposing interior with several beautiful chapels.The 19th-century José Guerrero art museum showcases work by one of the country's most famous impressionist painters of the same name from Granada. There are also many exhibits featuring modern artists, which change throughout the year. The Sierra Nevada national park lies just behind Granada’s eastern suburbs and has both the highest peak in Iberia and the southernmost ski resort in Europe. It will only take half an hour to get from the old centre of Granada up to these majestic mountains. Granada is also one of the centres for flamenco in Spain, especially its Sacromonte district. This gypsy quarter is the heart of what flamenco experts called jondura or duende, a musical form that stems from zambra, a flamenco song and dance party that first began in the 16th century. Find out more here.

The city's famous tapas culture and delicious cuisine makes for a one of a kind experience. One of my favourites was Michelin guide recommended "Alameda" an attractive gastro-bar with a contemporary ambience and an avant-garde decor. It offers typical Andalucía cuisine with a modern touch combined with a variety of fish dishes showcasing plenty of creative skill        

   

Villa Oniria is a carefully restored Andalusia style 19th-century manor house situated in the heart of the city centre. As is the case throughout, the 31 rooms are contemporary and stylish. The hotels fine dining restaurant "La Fabula" enjoys a good reputation but could in my opinion improve its amateur breakfast offer.

Malaga's large international airport, is your gateway to Granada with hourly bus options to the city or convenient car hire.

Aer Lingus fly to Malaga daily from Belfast City George Best airport or from Dublin.

                               


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