The Alhambra and the Palacio de Generalife
“Red castle” in Arabic, the Alhambra became a royal palace in the mid-13th century. Protected by the hills and woods around it, the Alhambra, once the center of the Moorish government, became a Christian court in 1492 when the Catholic Monarchs conquered Granada.
Picture: Yard and pool of the Rose de Comares
The hotel, Rosa de Comares, is situated in a house near a pedestrian mall in the Albayzin. The old part of Granada runs up a steep hill opposite the Alhambra. At the bottom, shops and restaurants line a river. Three long flights of steps lead to the houses and our retreat.
On the day my husband and I arrived, we drove up the cobbled road into the Albayzin, following Google Maps. Every time we got to a certain curve in the road, Google Maps told us we had arrived. But these addresses were never the same. We continued farther, and the road ended. Several neighbors suddenly emerged from behind closed doors to make sure we didn’t dent the other cars, parked in the narrow cul-de-sac.
But all their efforts couldn’t save us from getting a flat tire on a step as we backed down the hill. (Another local on his way to work insisted on changing it for us.) The next day, we had to drive back to Malaga to switch rental cars because we couldn’t get the tire repaired.
We arrived at the hotel late the first night because after struggling to understand the directions for a couple of hours, the manager finally revealed the secret.
Alert: Park your car in one of Granada’s 24-hour parking garages and take a taxi to the hotel.
That worked! After that, we frequently walked to the car, two kilometers away, to get things we had forgotten. Once off the hill and on the flat of downtown, the trip became easier.
Picture: tourist bureau in Albayzin.
The Alhambra and the Generlife Palace and Gardens are the major attraction in Granada. You need tickets to go there.
Alert: It might be best to arrange for tickets online well in advance.
We didn’t have any because we thought we could get them when we arrived. Instead, we bought tickets for the local Segway Tour that said they included tickets for the Alhambra. They repaid us for the Alhambra tickets when they couldn’t get them.
Picture: Sacromonte in eastern Granada
Even though I was upset about not being able to go to the Alhambra, I had never been on a Segway (for obvious reasons if you knew me). We decided to go on the Segway tour of the Albayzin anyway. It isn’t as difficult to learn, but you have to focus if you don’t want to topple over a bump in the twisty, brick road.
We stopped at the top of the hill opposite the Sacromonte, the eastern area of Granada.
Picture: Cave home in Sacromonte
The gypsies were forced to settle in this spot soon after Ferdinand and Isabel conquered the Moors in 1492. (The gypsies, along with the Moors and Jews, were persecuted on the Iberian peninsula.) The community is known for its cave houses, dug out of the soft hillside, and the gypsies’ raw and fervent flamenco dance known as zambra. Today, tourists can buy tickets to see the passionate flamenco dances in a Sacromonte cave.
Certainly with all the mysteries surrounding the Alhambra and Sacromonte, there are far too many places to set a mystery. We’ll have to save that for another location.
Tired and still disappointed that we didn’t see the Alhambra, we dragged our bodies up the three flights of stone stairs from the lower Albayzin and re-entered our room just off the lobby. We suddenly remembered that the hotel always left bottles of wine in our little refrigerator. What are a few more stairs to the roof when you can take in the beautiful scenery from the Rosa de Comares Hotel?
See previous blogs: Cordoba