I arrived in Granada yesterday afternoon a little tired after a fairly long bus ride. Once again all my advanced reading left me woefully unprepared for what I was going to experience here. I was afraid that Granada was going to be overrun by tourists and that it was a one-sight town. I couldn’t be more wrong.
Granada is actually quite cosmopolitan, almost as much so as Madrid. But it’s better in my opinion because there’s not all the craziness associated with a capital. The pace is slower and the people more friendly and helpful. To say that there is a lot of history here would be an understatement and once Granada was the grandest city in Spain.
But the city started to decline when the 700 years of Moorish rule ended. Under the new Christian rule the Moors and Jews were initially tolerated (they were good for business!) but the Inquisition happened around 1550 and ideology trumped pragmatism and Jews and Muslims were evicted or forced to convert. Because the Christians had to prove their supremacy, when they built, they went big as is evidenced by the Cathedral (below). They even went so far as razing nearly every mosque in the city and building a Christian on it’s site.
But this history, no doubt colored by blood, leaves a beautiful legacy. There’s an old Spanish saying that fairly sums up how pleasing Granada is to the eye: “Give him a coin, woman, for there is nothing worse in this life than to be blind in Granada.”
Tomorrow I have reserved tickets to visit the Alhambra. More on that soon.