Impressions of Granada

Granada—one of the centers of Muslim-ruled Spain from 711 to 1492—is an amazingly beautiful city. But you wouldn’t know it at first (at least not in the winter, when we visited). It’s easy for American eyes to get hung up on the ever-present graffiti, the dog poop littering the cobbled streets (no scooping here), and the old stucco walls slowly crumbing in the dampness. True, the terracotta-colored towers of the Alhambra perched on their green hill are striking, but the rest of the city doesn’t look as special as it is.

The secret of Granada is that, like a woman in a veil, its greatest beauties are hidden. The exteriors of palaces, churches, and old houses offer a small hint that they might be interesting to see, but the marvels lie inside. The city’s beauty reveals itself with time and a little bit of effort.

For that reason, if at all possible, don’t race through Granada in a couple of days. Give yourself time—at least four or five days, if not more—to discover and savor this amazingly old and richly detailed place.

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