The province of Granada is in the eastern part of Andalusia and has a coastal area with its warm climate, extensive fertile Genil plains and the mountainous regions with a colder climate.
The city of Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains and has a unique history bestowed it with artistic grandeur embracing Moorish palaces and Christian renaissance treasures, as the last Moorish capital on the Iberian peninsula it also holds great symbolic value.
The city of Granada has been shaped by the hills where the old districts in the Albaicin and the Alhambra were founded, brimming with steep, narrow streets, beautiful nooks and corners and marvellous landscapes.
When the Moors crossed the Strait of Gibraltar in 711 they settled in what was then a small Visigoth town perched atop the Alhambra hill. Here they settled and erected walls and laid the foundation for the prosperous civilization that would follow.
Its' splendour was reached in 1238 when Mohammed ben Nasar founded the Nasrid dynasty and the Kingdom of Granada stretched from Gibraltar to Murcia. This dynasty bore twenty kings until King Boabdil was forced to surrender to the Catholic Monarchs, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1492.
During three centuries a magnificent and rich Islamic culture flourished leaving Granada with architectural marvels of the calibre of the Alhambra declared a World Heritage Site along with the Generalife and the Albaicin.
The city is made for strolling and daydreaming with delights around every corner - the beauty of the parks, fountains and spacious gardens and the amazing monuments, and of course the most famous of all the Alhambra.
No trip to Granada would be complete without a visit to the Albaicin where some of the most beautiful monuments are to be found, and the Sacromonte where many of the dwellings, traditionally inhabited by gypsies, are carved out of the hill and in some of the caves flamenco singing and dancing spectacles known as Zambras are staged.
The Sierra Nevada Natural Park has an area of 136,800 hectares and has the highest peak in the Iberian peninsula, the Mulhacen at 3,481 meters. The Alpujarra region is found on the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains and excursions through the park can be enjoyed on foot, mountain bike, horseback or 4 wheel drive.
The Moors inhabited the towns and villages of Las Alpujarras up to the beginning of the`17th century and left their imprint on their traditions and culture. There are some extremely picturesque villages like Orgivia and Pampaneira, Bubion and Capileria, and then onto the highest village, Trevelez, famous for the quality of cured ham. From Capileria walk around one hour to the deserted village of Cebdilla.
The tropical coast has a number of interesting towns with Salobrena having a Moorish heritage in its narrow, winding streets and white washed houses and the ruin of a Phoenician castle.
In Motril the old quarter is a typical example of Hispano-Arab town planning with a 16th century Mudejar church erected over a mosque.
In Western Granada the town of Alhama de Granada was described by Theophile Gautier as "Hanging from an enormous rock or peak like an eagle's nest" and Illora is known as "Granada's Darling. White washed towns like Montefrio with its' beautiful castle lording over the town, nestle between rolling hills and rivers and preserve a rich and varied historical heritage. The Polygraph Ibn al-Jateb who was born in the city of Loja wrote in 1313 "My city has a smiling face, the aspect of a charmer and of beautiful women who cure the ills of the heart".
The town of Santa Fe, founded by the Catholic Monarchs in the 15th century as a military camp base for the invasion of Granada, has the most outstanding monument and the gateway to the city. It is here that the keys to the Kingdom of Granada wee handed to the Catholics Monarchs.
Guadix is northeast of Granada and is on a high plateau at an altitude of 1,000 meters between two mountain ranges. The cold, dry climate is home to the nature parks of the Sierra de Baza and Sierra de Castril. Guadix is one of the oldest settlements in Spain and the landscape is marked by cave dwellings carved out of the hills.
Baza preserves its Arab past with the Alcazaba fortress, the walls and baths. There are also the remains of the old Jewish quarter.
Granada has so much to offer and with climatic variations is one of the few places in the world where it is possible to ski in the morning and swim in the afternoon in the Spring.