Best of Andalusia - A Photographer's Guide to Granada
The city of Granada is one of the most famous strongholds of the Andalusian-Moorish culture. Most Andalusia visitors only come to Granada because of the Alhambra. But the city offers a lot of other beautiful places for a one or two day trip. I will give you an overview of all the photogenic churches, Arabic houses, and viewpoints.
The Alhambra is the main sight in Granada. If you want to visit all parts of the Alhambra you need to book your ticket 1 to 4 months in advance depending on the season of your visit. For buying a ticket you need to know that the Alhambra contains many different palaces in itself. They offer different tickets with which you can get access to different parts of the Alhambra. There are two main tickets:
1) Alhambra General Ticket: With this ticket, you get access to every part of the Alhambra including: Gardens, Alcazaba, Generalife, and the Nasrid Palace.
2) Gardens, Generalife, and Alcazaba Ticket: With this ticket, you have access to everything excluding the Nasrid Palace. Which is (as the name of the ticket says) the Gardens, Generalife, and Alcazaba.
The Alhambra General Tickets is often sold out very early. If you want to visit the Nasrid Palaces and there are no General tickets left you can buy a Granada card.
This map gives an overview of the different parts of Alhambra.
The Nasrid Palace is the main reason for most of the people to visit the Alhambra. Most of the pictures you have seen might have been from there. The patios of the palace have some really beautiful arabesques and ornamentation and you feel like in a Moroccan palace. If you’re one of the lucky people to have a ticket for the Nasrid Palace, be at the entrance to the Palace (not the main entrance of Alhambra! This entrance is inside the Alhambra!) punctual. When you buy a ticket for the Palace you have a special visiting time and they won’t let you in if you’re too late!
The Alcazaba is one of the older parts of the Alhambra. From its towers, you get nice views over Granada and to the Sierra Nevada mountains. Especially the views over the old city the Albaicín quarter with all the white houses are nice.
The Generalife is a little bit apart from the rest of the Palaces. Nice gardens lead you up to the white building with the typical patio with a little pond and flowers.
This garden contains a very nice building with beautiful arabesques. You can take nice pictures mirroring it in the nearby pond. From here you also get beautiful views down to the city.
Mirador de Los Carvajales
This viewpoint is located directly opposite of the Alhambra in the old town of Granada. From here you get a perfect view of the Alhambra in front of the (in spring) snow-covered Sierra Nevada. This is the spot to be - especially in the evening for the sunset!
Other nice viewpoints around Granada are Mirador de la Cruz de Rauda, Mirador San Nicolas Granada and Mirador de la Vereda de Enmedio.
When visiting Granada you can’t oversee the cathedral. I recommend visiting the inside. As most Spanish churches the altar area is covered in gold and very impressive.
Monastario de San Jerónimo
This monastery is not known by many tourists and is a bit off the beaten track. It contains a charming patio filled with orange trees and a church covered in dazzling mural paintings and ornamentation. It is a very quiet and beautiful place and for me a must go!
Basilica of San Juan de Dios
Another really impressive church is the Basilica of San Juan de Dios which is located directly next to the monastery of San Jeronimo. The inside of the church is stunning. All of it is completely covered in gold and paintings! So don’t miss out on that one!
Granada is a very old city and was a very important town also during the reign of the Arabs in Andalusia. Around the old town you can find many Arabic houses and villas from that epoch which you can visit. For a visit buy the Dobla d’Oro ticket which includes Corral del Carbón, El Bañuelo, Palacio Dar al-Horro, Casa Morisca, Casa del Chapiz and Casa de Zafra. You can easily visit 4 or 5 of them in one day. For us this was a nice way to explore the old town’s streets and alleys.
Before the Arabs of course the Romans reigned also in Spain and left some remains. In Granada you can find the El Bañuelo, an old Roman Bath which is very well-preserved and included in the Dobla d’Oro ticket. You can take cool pictures when the noon light enters through the bath’s little windows.