Granada is situated on the confluence of the Darro and Genil rivers, between the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and the lowlands also called Granada. The town sits on two hills, El Albayzín and the Alhambra, where the magnificent Arab palace of the Nazaris Kings is located. The two areas with most historic influence and zest are those of the ‘Albayzín’ and the ‘Realejo’, with very strong Moorish influence, with narrow lanes, whitewashed houses, beautiful views.
But Granada is also a modern town with countless businesses. It is also a university town, with one of the largest universities in Andalucia, and is therefore able to offer a lively, entertaining and varied night life. Granada has everything to offer, beauty, culture and entertainment.
Granada, My kind of Town, so says travel writer John Graham-Hart who has visited more than 85 countries but keeps returning to Granada
In an interview given to The Sunday Telegraph, John gave the following answers
For the glory of the Alhambra and the tumbling alleys of the Albaicin. For the ring of bright fountains of the Generalife, the flamenco and the guitar makers, the gypsies and the kings, and the hooded penitants of Corpus Christi. And for the early snows that ice the peaks of the Sierra Nevada above. As the local saying goes, Quien no ha visto Granada, No ha visto nada (Until you’ve seen Granada, you’ve seen nothing).
What do you miss when you are away?
The music. Granada is the home of Zambra, one of the most vibrant forms of flamenco, but it does not travel- on a CD in our Kent farmhouse it just sounds like a cat in a revolving door. One of the best clubs, Pena La Plateria, in the Albaicin, is open to non members on Thursday evenings (October to December and Febuary to June). Most authentic of the public venues are Zambra de Maria La Canastera and Cueva de la Rocio in Sacramonte.
What is the first thing you do when you return?
I amble up through the Albaicin to the roof terrace of the Huerto de Juan Ranas, the best restaurant in the quarter, and sit with a quiet fino, an incomparable view across to the Alhambra and no thought of any consequence.
Where would you meet for a drink?
At the fountain in the Plaza Nuevo, so we can pretend that we might go somewhere other than Casa Julio tucked away down Calle Hermosa-but we never do. It’s hard to resist Henrique’s fish tapas. Next stop is equally predictable-nearby Bar La Trastienda, in Plaza de Cuchilleros, where you squeeze past a 1950s deli-counter into a tiled back room.
What are your favorite places for lunch?
For tapas or a full meal, noisy, packed, fishy Cunini, in Plaza Pescaderia, is hard to beat and costs from £10 per head. For great value I like restaurant Leon in Calle Pan but for posh nosh it would be Horno de Santiago on the Plaza de los Campos.
And for dinner?
It always breaks the bank and leaves us on tapas for a month but the Huerto de Juan Ranas(www.restaurantjuanranas.com), high in the Albaicin has it all-a breathtaking view of the Alhambra, a choice of eating inside or out, faultless service and cuisine that is an outstanding modern synthesis of Spanish and Arab traditions
Where would you send a first time visitor?
Straight to a book shop to buy the newly updated Granada and the Alhambra by Rafael Hierro, then on to the Plaza de San Nicolas, at the top of the Albaicin, for a first complete view of the Alhambra
What would you tell them to avoid?
The taxis-both as transport and as threat to life and limb. The centre of the city is closed to private cars, which means the taxis have a clearer run at you
Taxi or public transport?
Everywhere you need to go in Granada is within walking distance of Plaza Nueva. However, the Alhambra and Albaicin face each other on opposing hills and, in the midday heat, a 95 cent ticket for the no. 30 and 31 shuttle buses is a good investment.
Handbag or money belt?
Handbag. There’s no part of town you need to go that isn’t safe.
What should I take home?
A 18th or 19th century engraving of the Alhambra or Albaicin from Cuadros Bailon in Calle San Jeronimo, in the shadow of the Cathedral, a step from the spice stalls.
And if I’ve only time for one shop?
Granada’s guitar-makers or luthiers make some of the most beautiful instruments in the world. You can watch them being made at Belido in Plaza Realejo (the old Jewish quarter), which belongs to one of the most-respected guitar-making families. This, however, is not the place to buy your first instrument-one made by Manuel Bellido can go for £3,400.