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The low sweeping valleys are home to expansive lakes and rolling hillsides are peaked with never ending rows of olive groves. The backdrop to the valley are rugged hills, then towering over them are the Sierra Nevada mountains. This is a unique, serene and beautiful area. You would never realise that you are minutes from one of the great cities of the world.

Having spent many years travelling before I settled in Spain it takes a place with real charm and stunning features to impress me and Granada is near to the top of my list of places to visit. The greatness of the city is added to by its proximity to the mountains, beach, lakes and the countryside all of which enjoy very dramatic settings.

Granada has numerous attractions and I would recommend spending at least a weekend there. The most famous and impressive landmark in Granada is the Alhambra. This jewel of universal architecture is a series of palaces and gardens that were built in the 14th century. The mighty compound of buildings stands at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and overlook the city below. As you can imagine the Alhambra is a very popular attraction and tickets must be reserved in advance.

The hill facing the Alhambra is the old Moorish kasbah called the Albaicin, a fascinating labyrinth of narrow streets and whitewashed houses with secluded inner gardens, known as ´cármenes`. The Plaza de San Nicolas is famous for its magnificent view of the Alhambra. The numerous cafes and restaurants provide truly stunning views of the Alhambra, the Sierra Nevadas, the city below and the countryside as far as the eye can see.

The city centre itself is a network of high streets, pedestrian areas and tiny side streets which open out into impressive plazas which are home to cafes and restaurants. Granada has a very traditional appeal. This is the first city I have been to in Spain which really embraces and cherishes the traditions that we all love about Spain. It is difficult to describe the ambience created in the city, due to the unique blend of classic traditions and modern thinking with regards to the architecture, attractions and people. What I loved was the abundance of great wine and tapas bars, these are the meeting place day or night for friends and families of any age and epitomize the cities charm.

It would be possible to write all day about the city of Granada and the surrounding area. It is a very safe and friendly place that cannot fail to impress, the area is dramatic and the attractions are varied and inviting. Visiting Granada has to me been at last an opportunity to embrace Spanish culture and traditions in an incredible location.

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Copyright by Damian Barrington