On my third and most recent trip to Spain, I did a whistle-stop tour of Andalucía. Andalucía is another of Spain’s autonomous communities, like Castile La Mancha and Castile and León. If you think of the country as divided in four parts from east to west, Andalucía fills up the bottom fourth. It lies along both the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean; Castile La Mancha is directly to the north.
My first stop was Granada, which at one point was one of the richest cities in Europe. It was from here that the Moors were finally driven out of Spain back to Africa. Abu Abdallah Muhammad XII, known also as Boabdil, surrendered Granada to the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, in 1492. As he left the city, Boabdil turned for one last look and let out what has been immortalized as “the Moor’s last sigh.”
Touring the Catholic Monuments of Granada can take a whole day — with my limited time, I had to squeeze it into a morning.
Remember when I wrote that Ferdinand and Isabella originally planned to be buried in Toledo, and built a monastery for that purpose, but then changed their minds after they saw Granada? Yeah, about that. This, the Capilla Real (Royal Chapel), is where they ended up instead.
Right next door is the Cathedral, the second largest in Spain. Like the Capilla Real, it was commissioned by Queen Isabella, but building didn’t start until after her death. It was completed in 1704 and it’s a hodge-podge of architectural styles: Baroque on the outside and Spanish Renaissance with Gothic roof vaults on the inside.
As I exited the cathedral, I was greeted by Roma women offering me sprigs of rosemary. I shook my head as I had to keep moving. My next stop was the Monasterio de San Jeronómo and its cloisters, which I’ve posted about before.
As prevalent as the Catholic presence is in Granada, there is also heaps of Moorish history. This is the Albayzín.
I would have loved to spend an afternoon getting lost in the maze of streets that make up this old Moorish quarter, but due to my time constraints, I had maybe an hour.
What I did get to see of the Albayzín was this: the viewpoint from the terrace at Iglesia de San Nicolás (Church of Saint Nicholas).
People flock here to take this photo.
That would be the Alhambra, with the Sierra Nevada in the distance. The Alhambra is the reason most tourists visit Granada, and deserves a post all its own.
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