Albayzín

Albayzín information

Location
Granada , Spain
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On the hill facing the Alhambra across the Darro valley, Granada's old Muslim quarter, the Albayzín, is an open-air museum in which you can lose yourself for a whole morning. The cobblestone streets are lined with gorgeous cármen es (large mansions with walled gardens, from the Arabic karm for garden). It survived as the Muslim quarter for several decades after the Christian conquest in 1492.

Plaza del Salvador, near the top of the Albayzín, is dominated by the Colegiata del Salvador , a 16th-century church on the site of the Albayzín's main mosque; the mosque's horseshoe-arched patio, cool and peaceful, survives at its western end.

The Arco de las Pesas , off Plaza Larga, is an impressive gateway in the Albayzín's 11th-century defensive wall. If you follow Callejón de San Cecilio from here you'll end up at the Mirador San Nicolás , the Albayzín's premier (and perennially crowded) lookout, with unbeatable views of the Alhambra and Sierra Nevada. Come back here with the world and his wife for sunset, but beware of skilful, well-organised wallet-lifters and bag-snatchers.

Just east of Mirador San Nicolás, off Cuesta de las Cabras, the Albayzín's first new mosque in 500 years, the Mezquita Mayor de Granada , has been built to serve modern Granada's growing Muslim population.

Another well-placed lookout is the Placeta de San Miguel Bajo , with its lively cafe-restaurants. Close to this square off Callejón del Gallo and down a short lane is the 15th-century Palacio de Dar-al-Horra , a romantically dishevelled mini-Alhambra that was home to the mother of Boabdil, Granada's last Muslim ruler.

Downhill from Placeta de San Miguel Bajo you'll find the lovely Alminar de San José in Calle San José, a minaret that survives from an 11th-century mosque. Calle San José meets the top of Calle Calderería Nueva , a narrow street famous for its teterías, but also a good place to shop for slippers, hookahs, jewellery and North African pottery from an eclectic cache of shops redolent of a Moroccan souk.

Buses 31 and 32 both run circular routes from Plaza Nueva around the Albayzín about every seven to nine minutes from 7.30am to 11pm.