Part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that also ecompasses the Alhambra
Palace, the Albaycin counts as one of the most unique and comfortable historical neighborhoods in the world, a place where
people still live their lives following traditional patterns hundreds of years old.
Granada and the Albaycin fit into the comfortable part of Spain. No one worries
too much in Granada. Things are good. Granada, more than Seville or Cordoba, has a self-assured but humble presence about
it, a bit like Italian self-confidence: we are not concerned, too much, about contemporary trends, so just live your life
as best you can.
It's as though la dolce vita has
floated over across the Mediterranean from Italy to nestle in southern Spain, or maybe it’s always been here.
The Albaycin quarter of Granada, once its own entire Moorish metropolis, spreads
across a hill as impressive as the prominence on which the Alhambra Palace seems to float. Each directly across from the other,
both hills emerge above the Vega, the plain, of greater Granada, and constitute a valley to the rear of which hides Sacromonte,
the gypsy quarter, the land of flamenco and cave dwellings. This whitewashed array of houses and ruins constitutes a stunning
example of aesthetic balance and humane social space.
Completely paved in stone, meandering streets and alleys spell out a venture
in time not just to Mudejar Andalusia, but back to Moorish times and Europe’s last Islamic caliphate. Much of the Albaycin
still cannot be reached by even the tiniest car, yet the neighborhood lacks the claustrophobic, shut-in feel of many Medieval
European hill towns in France or central Italy. The Albaycin is not really Medieval at all, except perhaps chronologically,
and no other country but Spain experienced the history of enlightened Moorish culture followed by the 700-year reconquista--the attempt by Christians to retake the Moorish lands.
The Moors, and the Mudejar aesthetic style that remained after their conquest,
made for an urban landscape humane in proportions, deliberately determined, and yet exuding the idiosyncratic character of
century upon century of denizens who cared deeply, tenderly about the space they lived in.
Even today, the many patterns of life, repeated time and again, continues--the
market, the cafe, the bakery, butcher, cheese shop, and wine merchant. We buy our daily produce just beside the Gate of the
Weights, on Plaza Larga, as the Arabs, and then the Moriscos and the Spaniards have done for 800 years.
Alhambra Vistas Vacation Rentals are located in the heart of the upper Albaycin,
within walking distance of historical sites, markets, cafes, and restaurants.
Granada International Music & Dance Festival
in the Alhambra Palace
Here's what the experts said in National Geographic Traveler's 133 places rated survey, which placed medieval Granada & the Alhambra as the top rated place in Western Europe for authentic
Spain: Medieval Granada and the Alhambra
"The beauty and variety
of Granada still astonish me after 40 years of visits." The "magical" palace and gardens of the Alhambra comprise
"one of those rare must-see destinations that lives up to the hype." The Alhambra is an innovator in managing tourist
numbers; visitors are"absorbed into the urban milieu with little overt impact."
Here is a representative
sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic
Alhambra is one of the most significant cultural and historic treasures in the world. Its location on a hill in the medieval
portion of Granada provides stunning views. Wandering up to the former Muslim palace and gardens along winding streets through
the old town provides a perspective that has great aesthetic appeal. Visitor numbers to the palace are controlled daily by
a quota system."
is the word for this magical place. We were, however, quite concerned to see that many, many decorative and plastered wall
surfaces and painted surfaces were not protected in any way. Evidence of repeated, prolonged touching had worn away both paint
and actual decoration, at some places down to the substrate. The site is extremely heavily visited, and it's apparent that
this is taking a toll."
"The Alhambra, beyond being the best example of Nazari architecture, has been developing
fairly well for such an important heritage attraction. Over the past few years there has been a trend to value the place and
preserve it from previous, undesirable developments."
"The beauty and variety of Granada still astonishes me
after 40 years of visiting the place. The city seems to be very serious about its integrity and environment and it shows in
the care of the monuments."
"One of those rare 'must see' destinations that lives up to all the hype. Few places
as heavily touted as the Alhambra can match their advance billing, but the Alhambra doesn't disappoint—it is magical,
all the more if you can book a visit when it's less crowded, and take it all in slowly, preferably over a few days. The rest
of Granada is pleasant, especially the Albaicin, from which the views back to the Alhambra are the stuff of dreams."
features stand out immediately. First, the number of tourists is controlled, and their movement within the attraction is timed
to avoid crowding, thus preserving the environmental quality and maintaining the aesthetic appeal. Second, the condition of
the built heritage is very well preserved; the structures remain almost in their original condition. Third, the town and local
population, although removed from the attraction, benefit from the tourists that come to the Alhambra."
|Alhambra at Night