Exploring the Moorish Influence in Granada, Spain

Spain is widely known as one of the historical powerhouses of the medieval times. Various regions throughout the country still speak about and admire Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon. In Granada, there are many monuments and buildings built in the Catholic monarchs’ honor for their glorious reign that connected all of Spain. For example, Plaza Isabel, with its towering dark statues in the heart of Granada, is named after Queen Isabella I of Castile.

The Capilla Real de Granada even acts as the final resting place for these Catholic Monarchs, encouraging the people of Spain to remember the final conquest of the Muslim stronghold in the Iberian Peninsula on January 2nd, 1492. But Moorish roots remain here in Granada and, although the city was historically converted and forced into Christianity, all around the city are historical reminders of what life was like before the arrival of the Catholic Monarchs.

The Alhambra

the alhambra in granada spain at sunrise
The Alhambra at sunrise.

High above Granada stands the Alhambra. This magnificent fortress serves as an UNESCO World Heritage site, and for good reason. Inside the towering walls, there are extensive gardens nourished with ancient Islamic aqueduct systems that still function today, exquisite views of the city below, and a palace with breathtaking ceilings and walls filled with intricate designs and figures.

Before I went inside the Alhambra with my ISA program, my friends and I rose early in the morning to hike up to the Mirador de San Nicholas, where the photo above was captured. I returned two more times that day to view the Alhambra at both noon and sunset, each time was equally as unique and beautiful as the last thanks to the changing colors of the sun illuminating the walls and the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the background.

pools inside the alhambra granada spain
Inside the walls of the Alhambra. The beautiful gardens of the Alhambra, accentuated with reflective pools and lush vegetation.

The Albaicín District

Albaicín

This district in Granada was also declared as a world heritage site alongside the Alhambra in 1984, and is known for its Medieval Moorish history and influence. The Albaicín has a multitude of beautiful souvenir shops that contain alluring Arabic lamps and decorated clothing.

Tetería

My favorite discovery here in Granada, which are commonly found in the Albaicín district, are the Teterias. These tea houses are exotic and enchanting; the designs of the teapots and cups are captivating with their Moorish designs. And the tea itself is incomparable to any other. There are countless flavors and combinations, all of which are loose-leaf teas that have a delectable aroma.

To drink the tea in a Teteria, I’ve been told by locals that you need to pour all the steeped water into your glass and then back into the teapot to get the flavor dispersed evenly. Then, you need to gradually raise the teapot higher and higher from your cup when pouring in the tea to get adequate aeration which enhances the flavor even more. Visiting a local Tetería in the Albaicín is an absolute when in the area.

Mirador de San Nicolas

This neighborhood is my favorite picnic spot in Granada, located on the same hillside as the Mirador de San Nicolas. There are various pools on each level of the park, all of which are the eight-pointed star.

Sarah Howard is a student at University of Colorado, Boulder and is an ISA Featured Photo Blogger. She is studying abroad with ISA in Granada, Spain.

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