Granada is back on my radar with life taking me to the city quite frequently at the moment. Walking through the old town was wonderful today, with the clear skies offering a privileged view of the Alhambra set against the snow capped Sierra Nevada range – the classic Granada panorama!
The old town or Albaicin still has a rawness about it – locals believe that the local council is pushing out low rent residents and students in an attempt to ‘gentrify’ the area, meeting the expectations of the international tourists that visit the world heritage site.
One moment you glimpse a little of a secret patio garden and next you see graffiti protests across an ancient plastered wall.
In amongst the patios you'll discover pomegranate trees – the fruit trees are everywhere in this part of Andalucía as the Arabs brought them over from Middle East/Asia when they colonised Southern Spain – and in fact in Spain, pomegranates are called Granadas – and you see references to the fruit in odd places – even the pollards in town are modelled on pomegranates!
Most visitors go to Plaza de San Nicolas, as it offers unprecedented views across old town towards the Alhambra, but the square is almost always packed, even off season.
Yet most don’t know that next door, to the east, is the intimate patio garden of the Granada mosque, with a charming geometric layout with a small fountain at its heart. This quiet space is open to the public and offers the same great views without the hordes. To the west there is another square, with the same elevated position, and this one is popular with local students, boohoo types and musicians.
In the street below the squares, are a few restaurant and bars that provide a more rarified environment in which to relax and soak up the atmosphere. I discovered a new one, called Aljibe del Poetra, and it has a large terrace with glass curtains with tables for lunch and dinner.