Granada (Alhambra) and Sierra Nevada - Spain
Pictures from Andalucia, Spain
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Granada (Alhambra) and Sierra Nevada
The city of Granada is dominated by the Alhambra, arguably the most exciting, sensual and romantic of all European monuments. It was the palace-fortress of the Nasrid Sultans, rulers of the last Spanish Moorish kingdom and in its construction Moorish art reached a spectacular and serene climax. But the building seems to go further than this, revealing something of the whole brilliance and spirit of Moorish life and culture.
This mighty compound of buildings – including the summer palace called Generalife, with its fountains and gardens - stands at the foot of Spain's highest mountain range, the Sierra Nevada, and overlooks the city below and the fertile plain of Granada.
At the centre of the Alhambra stands the massive Palace of Charles V, an outstanding example of Spanish Renaissance architecture. Other major Christian monuments found in the city are the Cathedral, including the Royal Chapel where Isabel and Ferdinand lie buried, the Monastery of La Cartuja and many churches built by Moorish craftsmen after the Reconquest, in Granada's unique "mudéjar" style.
The hill facing the Alhambra is the old Moorish casbah or "medina", called the Albaicin, a fascinating labyrinth of narrow streets and whitewashed houses with secluded inner gardens, known as "cármenes". The Plaza de San Nicolas, at the highest point of the Albaicin, is famous for its magnificent view of the Moorish palace.
The Sacromonte hill, which overlooks the city from the North, is famous for its cave dwellings, once the home of Granada's large gypsy community.
The province of Granada is dominated by Spain's highest mountain peaks, the Sierra Nevada. When you've exhausted the magnificent city of Granada there are countless other possibilities, perhaps most enticing, the hikes of the Sierra Nevada's lower southern slopes, known as Las Alpujarras.
The Sierra Nevada is snowcapped for much of the year and offers skiing from November until late May. Being less than two two hours drive from the coast, it really is possible to spend the morning skiing in the snow and the afternoon sunbathing on the beach. And how many places in the world can make such a claim! Europe's highest road runs past the Ski resort of Solynieve at 2,100m
During the rest of the year the Sierra Nevada nature park offers the walker endless opportinities. The desolate upper slopes of Mt. Mulhacen at an altitude of well over 3000m give the impression of being in a lunar landscape. The Sierra Nevada National Park was declared a Preserve of the Biosphere by UNESCO. Its mountains are the highest in the Iberian Peninsula (Mulhacén 3,481 mts.).
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