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GRANADA

Home of the Alhambra and Sierra Nevada ski resort

Granada is possibly one of Andalucia's best know, best loved and most visited cities and never fails to 'wow' the avid tourist with its historic charm and majestic  splendour. This city is our number 1 recommendation for our keen sightseeing guests! It is within easy driving distance of Cortijo Las Olivas.

A LITTLE BACKGROUND

 

Granada was first settled by native tribes in the prehistoric period, and was known as Ilbyr. When the Romans colonised southern Spain, they built their own city here and called it Illibris. The Arabs, invading the peninsula in the 8th century, gave it its current name of Granada. It was the last Muslim city to fall to the Christians in 1492, at the hands of Queen Isabel of Castile and her husband Ferdinand of Aragon.

 

One of the most brilliant jewels of universal architecture is the Alhambra, a series of palaces and gardens built under the Nazari Dynasty in the 14th C. This mighty compound of buildings – including the summer palace called Generalife, with its fountains and gardens - stands at the foot of Spain's highest mountain range, the Sierra Nevada, and overlooks the city below and the fertile plain of Granada.

 

At the centre of the Alhambra stands the massive Palace of Charles V, an outstanding example of Spanish Renaissance architecture. Other major Christian monuments found in the city are the Cathedral, including the Royal Chapel where Isabel and Ferdinand lie buried, the Monastery of La Cartuja and many churches built by Moorish craftsmen after the Reconquest, in Granada's unique "mudéjar" style.

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The Alhambra at sunset

Mezquita Mosque

THE ALHAMBRA

 

The name Alhambra comes from an Arabic root which means "red or crimson castle", perhaps due to the hue of the towers and walls that surround the entire hill of La Sabica which by starlight is silver but by sunlight is transformed into gold. But there is another more poetic version, evoked by the Moslem analysts who speak of the construction of the Alhambra fortress "by the light of torches", the reflections of which gave the walls their particular coloration. Created originally for military purposes, the Alhambra was an "alcazaba" (fortress), an "alcázar" (palace) and a small "medina" (city), all in one. This triple character helps to explain many distinctive features of the monument. For more information on The Alhambra please visit our excursions page by clicking here.

ARAB BATHS

 

The Arab Baths are one of the most important historic and architectural aspects of Granada, as they are symbolic evidence of the city's religious turmoil all those centuries ago. The baths were built by the Muslims because they believed water was a symbol of purity, and so used it to cleanse their bodies, whilst the Christians, on the other hand, believed this to be decadent and heathen behaviour, and so had the majority destroyed, with only a 'few left remaining. It's easy to forget how important the baths were in Moorish life: they were a key focal point for social activity, second only to the mosque. They help to give us a glimpse into day-to-day life in Arab-era Granada.

 

The most famous bath house in Granada is El Bañuelo, situated in one of the more privileged areas of the city - the Carrera dek Darro. This is the street which runs alongside the river Darro, at the foot of the Alhambra hill. The bath house was then known as Hammam al Yawza (The Bath of The Walnut Tree) or the Axares, the latter alluding to the name of the area where the baths were originally built: The Axares Quarter - literally meaning 'health' or 'pleasure'. These baths were constantly praised by Moorish poets for their climate and beautiful architecture.

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The Arab Baths of Granada

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GRANADA CATHEDRAL

 

The Cathedral is located in the centre of the Muslim area and dates back to 1523. It has a nave and four aisles, a crossing and circular apse. Alonso Cano built the main façade with sculptures by Duque Cornejo, Risueño and Verdiguier while the only tower of the two planned ended up half finished. On the northern side, there is La Puerta del Perdón, a magnificent work of Diego de Siloé who also built La Puerta de San Jerónimo. The chancel is not only stunning, but includes skillful architectural solutions provided by Siloé. Its circular plan and great height contain semi-circular arches upon which a double series of balconies rest.

 

The glass windows of the upper part add light and colour to the whole. Medrano and Mena sculpted the statues of the Catholic Monarchs and Alonso Cano the busts of Adam and Eve. The side chapels contain marvellous works of art. In the sacristy, there is a figure of Christ by Martinez Montañes, an Annunciation and a valued image of the Virgin Mary by Alonso Cano, together with other valuable objects of the Cathedral Museum and Treasure.

SACROMONTE

 

The Sacromonte is famous for the gypsy caves, but the gypsies were neither the first nor the last people t olive in them. Long before the Oriental nomads arrived in Spain, the Arabs had discovered that the soft stone of the hill was ideal for carving out underground homes, and gypsies simply moved into them after the conquest, as the Moriscos were expelled. In the 19th century, writers and artists of the Romantic Movement, most of them English and French travelers in search of picturesque oddities, immortalized the gypsies of the Sacromonte, who also inspired poets such as Lorca and De Falla.

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SIERRA NEVADA

 

The most popular village in Sierra Nevada is well-known amongst snowsports enthusiasts: Monachil being the home of Europe’s southernmost ski resort and the only one in Andalucía. However, the attraction of the villages in this area is not limited to snow, as the majority of the area is part of the Sierra Nevada National Park. Here visitors will find fantastic routes to take on foot or, for the more adventurous, by horseback or mountain bike. This area also has areas ideal for fishing, such as the Coto de Pesca Intensiva Pinillos, located in the Pantano de Canales inside Pinos Genil. Many of these villages have slowly become dormitory villages for Granada city due to their proximity to the provincial capital. For more information on the Sierra Nevada ski resort, please click here.

COMMON SIGHTS OF GRANADA

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Opening out onto our colourful Mediterranean gardens, La Hacienda is a beautifully decorated traditional Andalucian cottage with all the comfort of a modern home. Look out for it's original Andalucian features including a high vaulted ceiling, wide windows to take in the view and gorgeous marble staircase. La Hacienda has stunning views and caters for up to 4 people. please click to find out more.

 

 

La Finca is Cortijo Las Olivas' largest cottage and caters for up to 5 people. Opening out onto our colourful Mediterranean courtyard, La Finca boasts a balcony with panoramic views of the mountains, pool and gardens, beautiful marble staircase and fully equipped kitchen, please click to find out more.

Opening out onto our large 'Mountain Spring water pool', La Casita is a quaint little cottage which caters for 2 people. La Casita is open plan and consists of a fully equipped marble topped kitchen, double bed and bright airy shower room.  Perfect for romantic getaways. please click to find out more.