Granada On the Road

Granada, Spain
In the south of Spain, in the rugged region of Andalucia, you find the beautiful and historic Granada. A city with a Roman, Arab and Spanish past, its influences are what make it so unique. In the year that Columbus first reached the Americas, Granada was still under the control of the Arabs. It would be the last Muslim city to fall to the Christians in Spain, under the rule of Queen Isabel. Today, its Arab history still remains in the magnificent fortress of Alhambra, one of the most significant historical sites of the world.

There's an old Spanish saying that goes, "If you have died without seeing the Alhambra, you have not lived." Maybe it's a bit of an overstatement but it's actually not too far off base. For one thing, it sits high above Granada in the Sierra Nevada mountains, looking down upon the city like some guardian angel.

The fortress itself is enormous, with a massive stone wall towering around a series of palaces and gardens, famous for their exquisite beauty and size. In fact, by some accounts, the creators of the Alhambra were trying to make physical the descriptions of Paradise in Islamic poetry.

Other places in Granada include the Albaicín, an old Arabic quarter located near Alhambra. The district is known for its cobble-stoned streets, white-washed houses and many squares. In the Albaicín, one can find an attractive view in any direction, almost always involving glimpses of the Alhambra.

Going to Granada is like entering a different world, both in time and place. The country might be Spain but the influences come from many other places, including North Africa and the Meditteranean. Like many places in the south of Spain, the past still looms at the heart of the present and tradition plays a deeper role in people's lives. As the saying implies, it's somewhere truly unique.