Granada Means Pomegranete

Community Highlights Europe Granada Means Pomegranete

After 700+ km of cycling since leaving Cádiz a month ago on January 21, we were finally in Granada. I discovered that the word for pomegranete in Spanish is Granada. It is the heraldic fruit of Granada and can be found everywhere is the city - street bollards are in the shape of pomegranates, all kinds of facsimiles are sold in tourist shops. I love pomegranates but sadly it was not the season for them. I came home with these two, but not the big planter!


One guide book said that if every city were as beautiful as Granada, people would never travel. By this point in our trip, we felt like we had been in so many beautiful places, it was hard to compare but Granada certainly has drama. It’s not that big, about 240,000. It sits at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the peaks nicely snow-covered when we were there, though it was mostly surprisingly warm - in the high teens, low 20s. It is at the confluence of four rivers, the Darro, the Genil, the Monachil and the Beiromat with an average elevation of 738 m (2,421 ft) above sea level. It is only one hour by car from the Costa Tropical on the Med but it feels worlds away from coastal Spain.


In ancient times, the area was settled by Iberians, Romans, and Visigoths. Granada became a major city of Al-Andalus in the 11th century and during the 13th century, it became the capital of the Emirate of Granada under Nasrid rule, the last Muslim-ruled state in the Iberian Peninsula. Granada was the last city in Spain to be captured from the Moors by the Catholic King Ferdinand in 1492 who took 7 months to do so. He and Queen Isabella are buried in the Royal Chapel next to the Cathedral. Granada was progressively transformed into a Christian city over the course of the 16th century.

The Moors were Granada’s inhabitants from the 8th to the 15th C. and the Alhambra is Granada’s most defining monuments and one of the most visited sites in Spain, an enormous medieval Nasrid citadel and palace, perched high above the city, where the Moorish king El Zagoybi (known as The Unlucky) was defeated. The 16th century saw a flourishing of Mudéjar architecture and Renaissance architecture, followed later by Baroque style so there were wonderful buildings to enjoy everywhere.

Besides the Alhambra, other defining sight in Granada is the Cathedral, just down the street from us. Commissioned in 1521 by Charles V, he intended it as a more fitting burial place for his grandparents, Ferdinand and Isabella, though they remain next door in the Capilla Real or Royal Chapel, which they decreed built as their final resting place. A variety of architects were involved in the design and building of the Cathedral so no particular style stands out. It is just a massive pile, appearing even more so, wedged in as it is amongst other buildings and on a plaza that seems much too small in scale to support such a building. It looms above the plaza. We postponed visiting the Cathedral and the Alhambra til later in our stay. First we explored some of the street life in Granada, which is what we really enjoy the most wherever we are.


So we walked and biked Granada, enjoying the narrow twisting pedestrian streets of the old town. The University of Granada has an estimated 47,000 undergraduate students spread over five different campuses in the city, at least one right near our accommodation and there were always lots of young people in cafes and restaurants. Again, even though this is a very popular destination for tourists, we found prices very reasonable in Granada, including our accommodation. Though it was the most we paid on our entire trip at $181 CA/night, it was a very large, very nice apartment in a great location on a quiet street in the old town, with the owner often on site and very friendly, and we were very happy with a bit of a splurge.


We meandered through various plazas and down a long wide promenade to the Genil River where you could walk on both sides of the river. River seemed perhaps a generous word for the small amount of water flowing and is perhaps an indication of the drought that much of
Spain is experiencing. There were some lovely houses along the city side with a long park paralleling the river and apartment buildings on the other side.


We stopped at a riverside restaurant terrace for a coffee. It was close to the start of the lunch when they don’t really want to serve you just coffee but we asked if it was ok and when they brought our coffee, they also brought a piece of carrot cake that they did not charge us for!


We were interested to see good cycle paths on both sides of the river so we decided to spend the next day exploring that area on our bikes. We were already missing going somewhere I think. We headed east along the south bank of the river towards the Sierra Nevadas and soon left the residential area behind on that one side and entered a park. It was very pretty with some trees and shrubs blossoming and seemed to be a popular recreational area, mostly with people walking. We saw what appeared to be old flood control infrastructure on the river - certainly not needed now.


About 17 km into our ride, we came upon a sign for Pinos Genil and intrigued, carried on. In a narrow valley was a small village built on both sides of the river with little pedestrian bridges allowing people to go back and forth - very quaint and charming. It was definitely time for a morning coffee and lo and behold, there was a little riverside cafe. The river (well, stream really) had lots of white ducks hanging about and there were cute little duck houses on the rocks.

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We saw a restaurant with a Menu del Dia advertised so decided to carry on along the river and return for lunch. It was a totally delightful cycle along the narrow quiet rural road bordered by little cottages, some with lovely gardens, and a couple of small hotels.


We finally reached the end of the rural road where it connected with a highway and turned back to find our lunch spot. On the way back, in a garbage container by the side of the road were 2 large framed tapestries. I stopped and had a good look at them. It seemed very sad to just leave them there and I even looked to see if they could easily be removed from the frames. But I didn’t think Jim would be too enthusiastic about my rescue venture so reluctantly rode on.


Though our second day in Granada had not been spent touring the big sights, we loved our adventure on the outskirts of the city, getting ever closer to the Sierra Nevadas, and felt we had had an opportunity to see something quite different during our time in Granada. And on our way back into the city, we saw a guy get out of a car in full-on ski gear. It’s definitely not the Med.

This featured blog entry was written by Jenniferklm from the blog Cycling in Andalucia.
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By Jenniferklm

Posted Mon, May 27, 2024 | Spain | Comments