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My Favorite Place in Granada: the Alhambra

When I first started to write this blog post about my favorite places while studying abroad in Granada, I was originally going to write about cafes, tapas bars and the distinct neighborhoods. Well, if you read the title of this blog, you probably realized that I changed my mind. The Alhambra is definitely the reason why so many tourists come to Granada… so why not write about it in my blog about favorite places?
 One of my first pictures at the Alhambra

For anyone who doesn’t know about the Alhambra, it is a UNESCO world heritage site, as well as one of the most popular places for tourists to visit in Spain. I personally believe that it should be on any traveler’s "top 10 sites to visit" list while in Spain. Since I was too busy taking pictures and taking in the beauty of the Alhambra to remember the information the guide told my group, I turn to the Alhambra website for background info. “The history of the Alhambra dates back to the 9th century…the Alhambra was a palace, a fortress and a citadel, the residence of the Nasrid Sultans and top government officials, court servants, and the royal guard.”
 Details of the Alhambra


To say that the Alhambra is breathtaking and magnificent doesn’t even seem to describe it. Walking into the Alhambra site is an experience itself. Our CEA group had to weave past hundreds of tourists, who were waiting to buy tickets or to enter the sites. Besides that, I have pictures to tell my story of my visit to the Alhambra. The first thing I remember is entering the site, overlooking the fields and seeing the fortress. We then visited the Generalife gardens, which I personally would love to visit again when the flowers are in bloom. Seeing the mosaics, woodwork and stone work of the Alhambra was simply amazing. I remember thinking to myself, how could they possibly create something so magnificent, but so ornate at the same time? Visiting the Alhambra is a remarkable experience, and one I hope to experience again before I leave Granada.
 Mosaics and detail in the Alhambra
 
 The Courtyard of the Lions


If someone wants to have a fantastic view of the Alhambra itself, I recommend going to La Mirador de San Nicolas in the Albayzín, the neighborhood surrounding the Alhambra. After the CEA group  reached the viewpoint, by taking the bus and and then walking the steep hills of the Albayzín, I was simply speechless. On a day with clear, blue skies, I could see more than just a foggy outline of the Alhambra; I could see the details on the outside of the remarkable site. I could even see tourists, as tiny dots, on top of the fortress. If I looked left of the Alhambra, I saw the snow capped Sierra Nevada mountains. If I looked right, I could see the tiny white houses of the Sacramonte neighborhood and central Granada. The sight from Mirador de San Nicholas is like a view from a postcard.

Besides the view itself, the lookout point is a great place to discover Granada. While on the way to it, you can walk through the alleyways and markets of the Albayzín. Once you finally reach the viewpoint, the view and the atmosphere take over. The lookout point is full of musicians, artisans, tourists, and, surprisingly to me, everyday people from Granada. The tourists snap away on their cameras, trying to get perfect pictures from the lookout point. The everyday people from Granada just appreciate the scenery, while having conversations, about their dating lives or workday. I definitely recommend going to the viewpoint more than once while in Granada. During my second visit, I was definitely able to take in more of the beauty and atmosphere. I said to myself, "I can't believe I actually live here and have the opportunity to see this anytime that I want."

 

San Nicolas viewpoint


Mia Polizzotto is the Spring 2014 CEA MOJO in Granada, Spain. She is currently a junior at York College of Pennsylvania.

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