Sunday, 4 December 2016

Granada's Secret Sacromonte

When most people consider a visit to the Spanish city of Granada their biggest concern is getting tickets for Alhambra. Of course, they have good reason for this as, built in 1333, it made the list of twenty-one finalists for the New 7 Wonders of the World. It is a beautiful and breathtaking place to visit but Granada has some other gems that you don't want to miss.

One of these is Sacromonte, high on the hill outside the city walls and with possibly the best views of the city and Alhambra. It is best known for the cave houses, whitewashed homes which are built into the side of the hill, and is home to the Granadian gypsies that settled there after the Christian conquest of the city in 1492. Today it is occupied by a mix of gypsies, hippies and people just passing through.

The local authorities have largely left the area untouched which means there is little in the way of facilities such as running water and electricity. There are no rents to pay and no planning permission required. Anyone that can find an empty cave or space of land is free to occupy that land and make a home for themselves.

When walking through the area during the day you will find it to be quiet and peaceful as a lot of the residents will be in the city trying to sell their handcrafted goods and busking with their traditional music and flamenco dancing. Come back in the evening and it is a bit more lively with the warming sight of open fires, the smells of cooking, the sounds of music and a welcoming atmosphere of friendliness.

One of the best ways of finding out about the history of the area and really understanding the culture is to take a walking tour. There is only one company (Walk In Granada) that does tours to Sacromonte and even they don't go there every day. This is not due to lack of demand but because this is an area where people live and it would be intrusive to have large groups of people traipsing through several times a day.

So, when you visit Granada and you've been to Alhambra, don't forget to also check out Sacromonte  for the best views and to see a different side of the city and its culture.

P.S. When you do go I'd love to have some pictures to use on the blog post. For some reason, I have lost the ones I took from that day. Gutted! Your help would be much appreciated.

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