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Granada Hostels, Eurail Passes, and Backpacking Tips

 

Granada, capital of the last Muslim kingdom in Spain from the 13th to 15th centuries, is home to Spain's greatest Muslim monument, one of the most magnificent buildings on the continent - the Alhambra. South-east of the city, the Sierra Nevada mountain range (mainland Spain's highest, with Europe's most southerly ski slopes) and the Alpujarras valleys, with their picturesque villages, are well worth exploring if you have time to spare.

Orientation

Granada's provincial tourist office (958 22 66 88), on Plaza de Mariana Pineda, opens 9.30 am to 7 pm Monday to Friday, 10 am to 2 pm Saturday. The regional tourist office, on Calle de Mariana Pineda, opens the same hours but is busier.

Things to See and Do

 

 

The Alhambra is one of the greatest accomplishments of Islamic art and architecture. None of the reams written about its fortress, palace, patios and gardens can really prepare you for what you will see.

The Alcazaba is the Alhambra's fortress, dating from the 11th to 13th centuries. The views from the tops of its towers are great. The Palacio Nazaries (Nasrid Palace), built for Granada's Nasrid dynasty in the 13th to 15th centuries, is the Alhambra's centrepiece.

The beauty of its patios and intricacy of its stucco and woodwork, epitomised by the Patio de los Leones (Patio of the Lions) and Sala de las Dos Hermanas (Hall of the Two Sisters), is stunning. Don't miss the Generalife, the soul-soothing palace gardens.

 

The Alhambra and Generalife are open 8.30 am to 8 pm daily (to 6 pm October to March); admission is 8 €. The 8000 tickets for each day can sell out fast, especially from May to October, but you can book ahead, for an extra $1.50 at any branch of Banco BBV (in many Spanish cities), or by Visa or MasterCard on  902-22 44 60 between 9 am and 6 pm. Any tickets available for same-day visits are sold at the Alhambra ticket office and, 9 am to 2 pm Monday to Friday, at Banco BBV on Plaza Isabel la Catolica.

Other Attractions

It's a pleasure to ramble around the steep, narrow streets of the Albayzin, the old Muslim district across the river from the Alhambra (not too late at night), or the area around Plaza de Bib-Rambla. On your way, stop by the Museo Arqueologico (Archaeological Museum) and El Bafiuelo (Arab Baths), on Carrera del Darro at the foot of the Albayzin, and the Capilla Real (Royal Chapel), on Calle Oficios, which houses the tombs of Fernanda and Isabel, the Christian conquerors of Granada in 1492. Next door to the chapel is Granada's cathedral, part of which dates from the early 16th cen

 

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