the Albayzin

Overview

The narrow streets of the Albayzin, a world heritage site, are on your doorstep. They lead through jumbled white-washed houses decked in geraniums and bougainvillea, into lively squares full of coffee bars and bodegas. Little shops filled with bargains, from ornate leather slippers to bags of fresh-picked oranges are easily found. Most days are market day in the Albayzin, so wander home with your trophies to sunbathe on the roof terrace. Alternatively, stroll down the steep little streets into the centre of Granada itself. It is only a ten minute walk. (There are buses every few minutes so there is no need to struggle back up, or pick up one of the very cheap taxis to be found everywhere).

Local facilities

Within a five minute walk of the apartment we have all the basic facilities, including:

  • supermarkets
  • banks with ATMs
  • chemists
  • an opticians
  • bakers
  • butchers
  • an internet cafe
  • a market in the morning every day except Sunday
  • many bars and restaurants

Moorish history and ongoing tradition

The Albayzin (or Albaycin or Albaicin) is Granada's old Islamic quarter and forms the oldest part of the city. Its name may come from Albayyasin - that which belongs to the people of Baeza - so named after Muslims from Baeza moved here when their city fell to the Christians. The Albayzin is made up of a dense warren of houses and palaces which have retained their Moorish feel and legacy.

At one time there were up to 30 mosques. These have now all gone, although the mosque towers have frequently been incorporated into Christian churches (see Iglesia de San Cristobal and Iglesia de Santa Ana for example). However in 2003, Granada's first new mosque for 500 years was built. The Mesquita Mayor de Granada, just east of the Mirador San Nicolas, is a beautiful, restful spot, open to visitors, with stunning views across the valley of the Alhambra, the Generalife and the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Another Moorish legacy still scattered around the Albayzin are the water cisterns or aljibes. There are 23 of these remaining in the Albayzin. A particularly large example can be seen next to San Cristobal church and 1 minute from the apartment.

The Hammans (Arab baths)

At the bottom of the Albayzin next to the river Darro is el Banuelo. This is a well preserved Arab bath-house, dating back to the 11th century, and it is one of the oldest and most complete in Andalusia. The roof has a typical dome with octagonal and star shaped openings to let in the light and gives a good feel for the public baths which were once a standard feature of all Moorish towns in Spain and elsewhere. It is free to go in.

A more modern variant on the Arab bath-house can be found across the river at Calle Santa Ana 16 where a traditional hamman has been created, offering the opportunity to pamper yourself at a reasonable price (e.g. a bath and aromatherapy massage costs 28 euros).

There is another hamman in Granada's town centre, called The Aljibe de San Miguel.A bath and massage here cost 26 euros. Both baths are lovely. The San Miguel one has several small baths. It is gloomy and atmospheric. The facilities (showever etc) at Santa Ana are a little better and there is a bigger main pool. Why not try both? Don't forget to pack your swimming costume, even in winter!

The Arab quarter

For a final reminder of Moorish life, go to Calles Caldereria Nueva and Vieja. These streets are full of teterias or Arab teashops that will immediately remind you of Egypt or Morocco. Sipping mint tea, or an exotic yoghurt drink, in one of the elaborately decorated cafe bars, it is hard to believe you are not in Africa. Across the narrow lane from where you sit, are little shops bulging with beaded leather-ware, hand made silks, jewellery and all the bargains to be found in Cairo or Marrakech.

Calle Caldereria

 

Iglesia de San Bartolome, with old Moorish tower

The New Mosque

Calle Agua

Butchers shop in the Albayzin

 

Another shop window display !!

 

Calle Beso (or "Street of the Kiss"!)