The beautiful palaces of the Alhambra are synonymous with a visit to Granada but there’s another gem that most travelers overlook during their trip. Not far from the Center, and with incredible views of the famed Nasrid Palaces, is the district of Albaicín. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage in 1994, primarily because of its “rich legacy of Moorish town planning and architecture.” When you walk around Albaicín, you’ll discover the real city of Granada.
Walk Around Albaicín in Granada
A Little Bit of History
The Albaicín neighborhood is where Granada started. It housed the Berbers from North Africa before it became a Muslim stronghold at the beginning of the 11th century. For almost 500 years, the Nasrid dynasty ruled much of southern Spain and Granada was where their seat of power was. It wasn’t until the late 15th century, during the Reconquista, when Spanish catholic monarchs Isabella I and Ferdinand II tried to expel the Muslims out of Granada. Many of them sought refuge within Albaicín but eventually succumb and was force to convert to Christianity.
As you walk around Albaicín, you’ll discover small squares filled with modest houses. Some still feature wooden doors and shutters while outside walls painted white contain decorative flowers. Its narrow and winding streets are reminiscent of medinas and as you trek through them; in what seems like every corner, you’ll get to sneak a peak of the infamous Alhambra.
Insider Tip: When you get an opportunity, take a peak inside a carmen. These traditional houses within Albaicín feature high walls and a small outdoor garden.
Must See Sights
You’ll likely need a few days to visit everything there is to see within Albaicín; but for those with limited time, try not to miss these three spots.
Hiding beneath 11th century houses are these well-preserved Arab baths. The oldest of them, El Bañuelo, sits at the bottom of Albaicín, along the Paseo de los Tristes. Look around or better yet, partake in the bathing ritual.
Church of San Nicolas and Mezquita Mayor de Granada
It’s hard to top the views of the Alhambra from San Nicolas church and the adjacent Greater Mosque of Granada. Both places of worship sit atop the highest point of the Albaicín and provide travelers with some of the best views of the Alhambra and the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains. Time your visit to these two spots close to sunset for an even more spectacular scene.
Carrera del Darro
Those who opt to hike up the Alhambra will eventually pass by Carrera del Darro. This lively street is one of the oldest in Albaicín and runs along the picturesque river Darro. The Moorish-style houses that line the street are charming, while the stone bridges and cobbled streets provide visitors with glimpse of Granada’s past.
Have you stayed in Granada? What tips do you have for walking around Albaicín? Share your comments below.