Granada Visit
Students' Corner

Granada is easily one of Spain's most alluring and mysterious cities, not to mention a paradise of architecture, history, legends and tapas. Hundreds of years ago, the final epoch of Spain's once-mighty Islamic Empire was centered in Granada's Alhambra, a sprawling complex of exotic palaces and stunning gardens. The Nasrid dynasty, the last remaining Islamic kingdom in Spain, ruled from here until the city's eventual fall in 1492 to the ambitious Reconquest, led by Spanish monarchs Isabel and Fernando.

Below the hill-top Alhambra you'll find the different neighborhoods of Granada as well as the influences of the city's historical mixture of cultures. Peruse the Islamic quarters of the Moors, the typical caves of the gypsies and the monumental architecture of the Catholic-Spanish-built center. There simply is no better method to learn Spanish in Spain than by embracing the culture in this way. A guided Granada visit will introduce you to all of this and more, but below we'll try to give you an idea of what to expect!

La Alhambra

Truly a spectacular modern wonder, the Alhambra is the emblem of Granada and its Islamic past, one of Spain's most-visited attractions and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What started off as a hill-top defensive fortress was eventually expanded, becoming home to the Nasrid dynasty and representing the pinnacle of Spain's time under Islamic rule. Here are a few of the Alhambra's highlights:

  • ALCAZABA (Fortress)
  • GENERALIFE (Generalife Palace and Gardens)
  • PATIO DEL CUARTO DORADO (Courtyard of the Gilded Room)
  • SALA DE EMBAJADORES (Embassadors' Hall)
  • PATIO DE LOS LEONES (Lion Courtyard)
  • PATIO DE LOS ARRAYANES (Arrayán Tree Courtyard)
  • PALACIO DE CARLOS V (Palace of Carlos V)

El Albaicín

With its cobbled streets, tiny courtyards, white-washed buidings and labyrinth-like layout, the Albaicín is Spain's largest and most authentic intact Islamic neighborhood. With impeccably preserved architecture and an exotic charm that emanates from every cobbled stone, bubbling fountain and colorful flowerpot. The neighborhood, which is spread out over a steep hill, is home to all sorts of restaurants, bars, hippy markets, scenic overlooks, flamenco locales, outdoor cafés and tea rooms. Along the way there's a handful of sights that you can discover, such as:

  • BAÑOS ÁRABES (Arab Baths)
  • MIRADOR DE SAN NICOLÁS (San Nicolás Viewpoint)
  • REAL CHANCILLERÍA (Royal Chancery)
  • IGLESIA DE SAN JUAN DE LOS REYES (San Juan de los Reyes Church)
  • IGLESIA DEL SALVADOR (Salvador Church)
  • CONVENTO DE SANTA CATALINA (Santa Catalina Convent)


When Granada finally succumbed to the Spanish Reconquest towards the end of the 15th century, victorious monarchs Fernando and Isabel were anxious to make their new presence and power in the city known. They chose this section of Granada to do so, through the construction of monumental architecture centered around the magnificent Royal Chapel, a Gothic edifice built as their elaborate, over-the-top resting place. The area surrounding it is filled with Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings, which give off a totally different vibe than the neighboring Albaicín. Here are a few of the city center's highlights:

  • CAPILLA REAL (Royal Chapel)
  • CATEDRAL (Cathedral)
  • LA ALCAICERÍA (Silk Market)
  • HOSPITAL REAL (Royal Hospital)


Another very unique and historically interesting part of Granada is Sacromonte, historical home to the city's traditional gypsy population. As a marginal population centuries ago, the local gypsies settled just outside of the city on the slopes of this hill (Sacromonte means Sacred Mountain), into which they dug caves. These cave dwellings are still inhabited today, though nowadays they boast the comforts and amenities of modern-day homes. In fact, some of them are now used as hotel rooms or flamenco locales! While there, check out the following sights:

  • LAS CUEVAS (Caves)
  • MURALLA ÁRABE (Arabic Wall)
  • ABADÍA DEL SACROMONTE (Sacromonte Abbey)

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